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Fox Morning Show Omits Bad News for Fox in Journalism Study

Reported by Judy - March 13, 2007 -

The co-hosts of Fox News' morning show were busy patting themselves on the back Tuesday (March 13, 2007) with news from an annual report on the news media that showed Fox News' credibility failed to decline last year. In typical Fox News fashion, some key details were missing from their report. With video.

The co-hosts of "Fox and Friends" were attempting to report on the release of the annual report entitled "The State of the News Media" by the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Steve Doocy set the tone of the segment by noting that the report contained "good news for all of us here at Fox News Channel." In his discussion of the study's findings on the credibility of news organizations, Doocy reported that Fox News did not experience a decline in credibility in 2006. "Those other cable outfits declined in crediblity. However, we did not," Doocy said.

Co-host Brigitte Quinn chimed in that there was "no dissatisfaction" among Fox News viewers and that "We have not been declining in popularity."

Fox News displayed the chyron "News You Trust" during the discussion of the report.

The news report on this report on the news, however, was not exactly trustworthy.

While Doocy is correct that other cable networks saw declines in their credibility, the report found that more viewers found CNN credible than Fox News, although the margin -- 25 percent to 22 percent -- is a small one.

The report also found a growing partisan split in how viewers regard cable news channels, finding:

"Over time, however, Democrats have seen both news sources as less credible. In 2006, only about a third of Democrats (32%) gave CNN the highest marks for credibility, down from almost half (48%) just six years earlier. One in five (22%) believed most of what they saw on Fox, down from better than one in four (27%) in 2000.

"Republicans, in contrast, have come to trust Fox more in the last six years, while growing more skeptical of CNN. Indeed, in 2006, Republicans were as trusting of Fox (32% believed most of what they heard, up from 26% in 2000) as Democrats were of CNN. And Republicans were just as skeptical of CNN as Democrats were of Fox (just 22% believed most of what the channel said, down from 33% in 2000).

"In short, the newest data on public attitudes seem to put in clear relief the idea that Republicans gravitate to Fox and Democrats to CNN. Their impressions of the two channels are almost mirror images of each other."

The report also found that in general, most of the American audience (68 percent) prefers not to get its news from sources that have a partisan point of view.

As for Quinn's claim that Fox News has not been declining in popularity, the report does not exactly say that.

The report found that the audience for cable news channels in general declined in 2006.

"The drops at Fox News were the largest of all and marked the first time the cable news leader had begun to bleed viewers," the report said, adding, that "the declines at Fox News raise questions about whether its longtime evening lineup is losing some of its appeal" even though it remains "well ahead of the competition."

Rather than saying that Fox News is as popular as ever, it said that, "the problems at Fox News, new this year, appear to be across the board, hinting that the news channel may be facing its first significant signs of getting middle aged."

In other words, people are bored with it.

The report also suggests Fox News' declines may be mirroring those of George Bush's.

"Some analysts, such as Andrew Tyndall, also raise the question whether Fox News aligned itself too closely with Bush Administration and the Republican Party. If so, it could be suffering a backlash as the political winds change.

"Or it may be in part an age problem; the Fox shows may have become familiar. The lineup in prime time has not changed appreciably in recent years. If that is the problem, then just as CNN began to do in the late 1990s, Fox News may find that it has reached a peak with its current programming and begin to re-imagine some of its shows (something CNN has continued to struggle with).

"It also may be that its competitors, notably MSNBC and Headline News, have found ways to finally begin to chip away at some of Fox News’s audience."

The report also found Fox News' website to be weak compared to other news websites.

"Fox News, the star on cable, lags behind the other two cable news channels online. Its Web site has roughly a third the audience of its competitors, though it made efforts to address that lag in 2006," the report said.

The report is lengthy and worth reading. And if the brass at Fox News read it, they may be considerably less cheery than Doocy and friends.