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Are Fox's "Fox News Alerts" Trustworthy?

Reported by Melanie - March 23, 2005

Anyone who watches Fox News on a regular basis knows about its love of the FOX NEWS ALERT. Fox uses its FOX NEWS ALERTs with the full-screen graphics, swooshing sound effects, ringing bells, and breathless anchors so often that the ALERTs have become more of an irritation than a signal to pay attention.

The past several weeks have been fertile times for the FOX NEWS ALERT. We've seen FOX NEWS ALERTs about Martha Stewart, Scott Peterson, Michael Jackson, the missing Jessica Lunsford, the Atlanta courthouse shootings, the school shootings in Minnesota, and, of course, about the Terri Schivao case, to name just a few.

Interestingly, this afternoon (March 23, 2005), Fox News decided that a piece of breaking and significant news in the Schiavo case didn't warrant a FOX NEWS ALERT. At 4:53 p.m. ET, during Your World w/Neil Cavuto, Cavuto was interviewing Lizzie Grubman, star of the MTV show, "Power Girls." A banner appeared at the bottom of the screen which read, "Fox News Alert." Under that heading were the words: "Florida Senate Rejects Bill to Reconnect Schiavo's Feeding Tube." There was no full-screen graphic. There were no swooshing sounds. There were no bells and Neil Cavuto didn't turn sternly toward the camera to announce the news. As a matter of fact, Neil Cavuto carried on about "Power Girls" with Lizzie Grubman without interruption.

Comment: If the Florida Senate passed a bill ordering Terri Schiavo's feeding tube to be reinserted, we all know that Fox would have interrupted Cavuto with a full-fledged FOX NEWS ALERT. However, since this news was bad for Bush and the social fundamentalists pushing the Schiavo case, Fox reported it as quietly as it could.

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