Home Store In Memoriam Deborah Newsletter Forum Topics Blogfeed Blogroll Facebook MySpace Contact Us About

John Gibson's shiny Big Story contains no news. Again.

Reported by Chrish - June 12, 2007 -

Yesterday's misnomered Big Story 6/11/07 was anything but. Full of tripe and gossip, it served no purpose other than to entertain, sell advertising, and divert from the catastrophes in Washington and Baghdad.

What passed for news this hour? Al Sharpton met with LA County sheriff who released Paris Hilton; Barbara Walters read comments from personal phone call from Paris Hilton (apparently she's already had her jailhouse conversion, ptl); blah blah Paris Hilton; Paris Hilton's roots, 11 minutes total; Mike Nifong of Duke U rape case on trial; sex sentence tossed (consensual oral sex between teens had netted male 10 years); almost 6 minutes of ads took show to half-way mark, then "Breaking News" from Sharpton (poor people get treated differently than the wealthy in US); Jailbreak of guy who stalked David Letterman's young son; something about Larry Birkhead; Themiserol (mercury) in childhood vaccines may be linked to autism (I include this as non-news because it's been discussed for at least 7 years, to my personal knowledge); "secret" plan to send Prince Harry to Afghanistan; missing Chicago mom; Soprano TV show ending disappointment; letters, My Word (Soprano ending, speculation about movie).

Gibson did manage to get a slap at a couple of regular targets:

"After all, it must be galling that both Al Gore and Michael Moore have made way more money with their absolutely crummy movies than James Gandolfini has made with a brilliant TV series."

David Bauder wrote for the Associated Press:

Fox spent half as much time covering the Iraq war than MSNBC during the first three months of the year, and considerably less than CNN, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

The difference was more stark during daytime news hours than in prime-time opinion shows. The Iraq war occupied 20 percent of CNN's daytime news hole and 18 percent of MSNBC's. On Fox, the war was talked about only 6 percent of the time.


There are no similar differences in priorities among the broadcast evening-news programs, where Iraq was the top story between January and the end of March. NBC's "Nightly News" spent 269 minutes on Iraq, ABC had 251 and CBS 238, according to news consultant Andrew Tyndall.

Another story that has reflected poorly on the Bush administration, the controversy over U.S. attorney firings, also received more attention on MSNBC (8 percent of the newshole) and CNN (4 percent) than on Fox (2 percent), the Project for Excellence in Journalism found.

Tim Graham of the conservative Media Research Center, said Fox has always claimed to report from an American perspective and to not follow the pack. While Graham said he may have questions about the PEJ's methodology, he doesn't dispute the results.

His group published its own study last year about the content of coverage. Fox didn't have its head in the sand; there were more negative stories about what was happening in Iraq than positive. But his group's view was that Fox was more balanced while CNN and MSNBC were relentlessly pessimistic. Between May 15 and July 21 of last year, Fox aired nearly twice as many stories about successes in Iraq as CNN and MSNBC combined, he said.

Klein disputed the idea that CNN doesn't give a complete picture of what is happening in Iraq.

"Certain folks don't want to see any bad news," he said. "It's our job to report all of the news."

Fox's business interests may depend on less negative news about Iraq.

If Fox's audience is dominated by Republicans who are disgusted about hearing bad news on Iraq, it would stand to reason that you'd want to feed them less of it. Bill O'Reilly touched upon that idea on the air one night last December, telling viewers that the lowest-rated segment of his show the previous night was when Iraq was discussed. Ratings jumped at talk about Britney Spears, he said.

The danger is whether those concerns eat away at journalistic credibility.

They're a news network, said CNN's Klein, "so it is surprising that they're not covering the biggest story in the country and the world."

The Project for Excellence in Journalism steered clear of questions about what its findings proved. "We just wanted to tell people that it does make a difference where you go for the news," said the group's Mark Jurkowitz.

So with less on-air attention being paid to Iraq during the first few months of the year, what filled the void for Fox? PEJ's report said the network gave the death of Anna Nicole Smith significantly more air time than its rivals.

Any concerns about FOX losing "journalistic credibility" are way too late. Obviously, all FOX cares about is ratings and profits, and covering for the Bush administration. An "American perspective"?