Neoconservative Media

Scott Church
Media Matters
A Web-based non-profit research and information center dedicated to monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative the widespread misinformation in the U.S. media. Launched in May 2004, Media Matters for America put in place, for the first time, the means to systematically monitor a cross section of print, broadcast, cable, radio, and Internet media outlets for the ever-increasing amount of news or commentary from Far-Right forums that has been carelessly and unprofessionally researched.
Fox News
An Index of FAIR's Reports on FOX News
FAIR (Extra, July/Aug. 2001)
Fox News, whose trademarked motto is "Fair and Balanced", has stridently insisted that there is no bias of any kind in either its reporting or programming. These July/August 2001 reports from Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) examine the history Fox and its programming, and document a consistent pattern of Far-Right bias in both. The most credible metric for measuring bias in any media outlet its use of sources. From January to May of 2001, FAIR tracked the guest list of the Special Report with Brit Hume which is Fox News' flagship political news show. To avoid any accusation of liberal slant, they chose a rating system that counted guests as "conservative" only if they were actively involved in well known Far-Right think tanks or advocacy groups (Christine Todd Whitman, Bush's original EPA head, was considered "Liberal" for the purposes of this study). Even so, FAIR documented a slant toward conservative (i.e. Far-Right) guests by a factor of more than 2 to 1. The second link is to their report. The last link is to a bibliography of FAIR's other reports on Fox News and its questionable journalism.
The Junkman, Fox News and the Union of Concerned ScientistsPDF Version
On Feb. 18, 2004 the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report documenting the Bush Administration's reckless disregard for science and their deliberate attempts to scuttle the careers of reputable scientists that attempt to shed light on facts inconvenient to their agendas. On Feb. 27, 2004 Fox News carried a predictably abusive editorial in which industry lobbyist and Far-Right commentator Steven Milloy attacked the report and the “12 Nobel Prize winners” who signed it. The UCS report was actually signed by 20 Nobel Laureates, not 12. The error was not particularly relevant to the issues addressed in the UCS report, and in verifiable content (or lack thereof) the article was no different than most of Fox News’ journalism on environmental matters. What made this one noteworthy was that it offered an unusually clear glimpse of the sloppy scholarship and lack of professionalism that characterizes the Far-Right’s treatment of science and environmental issues. In this article I discuss the UCS report and show that Milloy likely arrived at his figure of 12 Nobel Laureate signatories by not even bothering to read the caption under the figure he took the names from, and the way Fox News simply accepted his comments at face value without any fact checking of their own.
Talk Shows
FAIR's rebuttal of Limbaugh's response
FAIR (Extra, July/Aug. 1994)
This 1994 report from Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a well known media watchdog group, investigated Rush Limbaugh's books and talk show content. Both were found to be riddled with basic factual errors, inaccurate references, and in at least one case a reference to an April Fools Day joke that was cited as a genuine source. In every case, even a modest attempt at research would have corrected the errors, but was not done. Needless to say, this has had little impact on his popularity. Shortly after the first report was released, Rush responded to it with a public statement (second link), to which FAIR replied in another statement (third link).
An Aggressive Conservative vs. a "Liberal to be Determined" - The false balance of Hannity & Colmes
FAIR (Extra, Nov./Dec. 2003)
The Hannity & Colmes show on Fox is second only to Rush Limbaugh in national popularity with conservative talk show devotees. The show attempts to present a "balanced" counterpoint between the ultra-conservative views of Sean Hannity and the liberal ones of Alan Colmes. Hannity is known for his strident, confrontational manner. Guests frequently find it difficult to even finish sentences without being loudly interrupted by his polemics. Colmes on the other hand is a relatively thoughtful and even passive liberal who seldom manages to even get a word in. This report from FAIR discusses the show and its conservative/liberal discussion format, which has been carefully designed to guarantee victory for Far-Right polemics, regardless of subject or content, under the guise of an "objective" comparison of views.
FAIR resources on the Bill O'Reilly show
Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)
Over the last few years, FAIR has followed the Bill O'Reilly show on Fox News, as well as his books, his treatment of guests, and his approach to issues in general. These reports are a collection of three years' worth of reports on his treatment of many issues documenting numerous instances of poor research, factual errors, improper use of statistics, rudeness to guests, and even racist slurs in defense of his views. Like the Hannity & Colmes show, O'Reilly has been advertised by Fox as "moderate" programming. O'Reilly has been careful to mix and match viewpoints on various issues. He devotes considerable attention to issues that are highly inflammatory, yet where liberals and conservatives are likely to agree (e.g. child abuse within the church). Mixing these with the traditional conservative hot-button issues has allowed him to promote a Far-Right ideology while giving the appearance of being "balanced". He has thus been an integral part of Fox's attempt to advance their "Fair & Balanced" trademark.
The 'Liberal Media' Claim
Examining the "Liberal Media" claim
FAIR (June 1998)
This press release from Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) presents the results of a 1998 study of journalistic bias from the Evaluation Research Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University. The project was based on a well characterized 24-question survey of a statistically significant sample of Washington-based journalists (n = 444) followed by phone interviews. The survey covered opinion and use of sources (the latter being the more reliable indicator of bias). Results showed that when viewed in the aggregate, there is little if any slanting of journalists toward left leaning views throughout all of the larger media outlets in the U.S. There is a tendency for somewhat Left to Right leaning views in some subjects (e.g. the environment or education), but most are moderate, and actually lean somewhat Right on economic and social policy issues.
Illiberal Conservative Media
This sub-domain of is dedicated to countering the “liberal media” claim on many fronts. While it is more of a personal commentary site than a knowledge base the author’s comments are well researched and more often than not, linked to his source material. The site counters numerous specific statements from Far-Right print and media forums highlighting their chronically poor research, ethical inconsistencies, and in some cases even outright sociopathological defense of easily refuted falsehoods (e.g. the books and editorials of Ann Coulter or the aptly named Michael Savage).


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