The phrase “fair and balanced” must, these days, produce a smirk among the reporters, editors, news personalities and brass over at Fox News. What few liberals and/or Democrats were working for Fox are pretty much gone now, leaving only the network’s tilt to the GOP, a bias that was recently confirmed by the million-dollar donation given to the Republican Governor’s Association by Fox’s owner News Corp.
Other media conglomerates and their parent companies have given money to politicians and parties before, but never in this amount or heavily toward one party. Fine then. If Roger Ailes, a veteran GOP consultant before he became Fox News head, wants to put Fox’s money where its mouth is, he should do so. After all, a partisan press is as American as apple pie. From the earliest days of the Republic through to the 20th century, many newspapers and other media were tied to political parties. This goes back to the days of the Gazette of the United States being a mouthpiece for the Federalists that inspired Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to publish the National Gazette in order to provide the same kind of voice for the Democratic Republicans. After World War II, as journalism professionalized itself and persons had to go to college to get reporting jobs, most newspapers and other publications tried to become “objective” in their reporting, i.e. reporters would act like robots and omnipresent, god-like observers on the news, thinking they could deny their humanity or any kind of built-in prejudices and biases when reporting. This only made viewers and readers distrustful, angry, and cynical at the media when they knew this kind of reporting was impossible. Fox News took this standard and threw it in the face of media establishment, saying that most journalists were already biased towards the Left, given this inbred culture of university-trained journalists. The only way you could find true “fairness” and “balance” in the news to reach the objectivity standard of the profession was to find those rare conservatives in the field and hire them, not just as pundits or news personalities, but also as editors, reporters, and executives. This automatically won Fox the niche audience it sought while seeming to reach for the standard.
But now if Fox wishes to go down this path of official partisanship, it must do so fully. It has to drop the “fair and balanced” moniker because it’s become a joke. Nobody believes it. Call yourself “America’s Conservative News Network” or “The No.1 Network for Republican News,” but not “fair and balanced.” One can debate whether Fox News is fair or not (and if you are a Ron Paul supporter you have your doubts). Well, if News Corp makes a similar campaign contribution to a Democratic campaign committee this election year, perhaps it might change one’s mind on that point.
But I will not hold my breath on it.