Fox News Channel’s coverage may have a conservative slant, but its transparency translates to high ratings.
The Fox News Channel is conservative. While that may seemingly contradict some of the channel’s slogans – such as “the no-spin zone,” where “we report, you decide” – no one can argue one factor of the FNC: It’s been dominating the ratings in cable news for two years, despite liberals writing FNC off as conservative propaganda and even an illegitimate news organization.
According to Mediabistro.com, the FNC’s Oct. 14 prime-time lineup overpowered all other cable news networks, including MSNBC, CNN and HLN.
“If you don’t think it’s conservative, then you’re in tune with Fox [News] so much that you think it’s the normal way to think,” said political science professor Mark Cohen, who teaches international relations. “You can shape the news, and that can shape people’s minds. You just add a subtle comment to something to change the implication of the entire story.”
As the number of bloggers – some, who simulate opinion as news – continues to surge, audiences desire a similarly relatable voice on TV, and for many, FNC is that voice. FNC may fill its night segments with extreme conservative commentators who sometimes make fun of the president and bash the “liberal mainstream media,” but the more the liberal media bashes FNC, the more the channel continues to develop into a politically-significant and socially influential news organization.
The reason the FNC has dominated the cable news ratings since President Barack Obama took office holds true journalism’s most basic ideological principal: FNC provides the truth.
Of course, a true story has many sides. To FNC, the truth may be biased with an extra-conservative commentator here or a subtle comment there, but the channel admits its own bias in sarcastic undertones with extremist commentators, ultimately resulting in transparency. But many fully believe what FNC spews is bulletproof truth, and FNC repays its viewers’ loyalty and gives them transparency as a conservative network.
Fortunately for FNC, that transparency grows as the mainstream media strive for neutrality, which is often an unrealistic goal in political news that can extract the truth away from realism. Consequently, mainstream media fail to maintain public loyalty.
Yet FNC, which admits it is biased, is often criticized because of it, as other networks marginalize the Tea Party movement and ignore conservatives. FNC not only gives conservatives a voice, but it embraces them by giving them a home.
While liberals are split between MSNBC, which trails behind FNC in ratings, and CNN, which often lags in third, FNC retains half of the United States’ choice for news. A recent poll from Politico and George Washington University reports 49 percent of people say Bill O’Reilly has a positive “impact on political debate in the country.”
If you don’t believe the poll, turn to the White House’s own briefing room, where the FNC – instead of NPR – landed a front-row seat this past summer after Hearst newspapers columnist Helen Thomas retired. Along with the seat comes prestige and access to the action.
The mainstream media often ignore liberal commentators, and in an attempt to showcase their own legitimacy, they disregard FNC’s journalistic integrity and cast it as a fake entity. But FNC milks the attention for all it’s worth.
As the conservative movement develops into a more rabid and persuasive argument, it is only gaining momentum. By admitting its own bias, FNC has created transparency and a target group of loyal viewers. Perhaps other networks need to take a cue from this model if they want to be rating powerhouses as well.
Matthew Petrillo can be reached at email@example.com.