They don’t report, you can’t decide…?

The Project for Excellence in Journalism has some interesting data about the reporting of the Iraq War by the major cable news outlets. It seems that those most “fair and balanced” of “journalists,” (my quotes, not theirs) Fox News, haven’t been reporting about the Iraq War with the same vigor and thoroughness of their counterparts at CNN or MSNBC.

Let’s be fair and balanced in our assessment, though – Anna Nicole Smith’s death was at least twice as important to them as it was to these other outlets.

Here’s the scoop: from Dec. 31, 2006, until Mar. 31, 2007, PEJ looked at how the major cable news outlets reported on three significant story threads – the Iraq War, the 2008 Presidential campaign, and the aformentioned Anna Nicole. Here’s the tale of the tape:

  Iraq War Total
(all 3 threads)
2008 Presidential Campaign Anna Nicole Smith
CNN 25% 7% 4%
Fox News 15% 9% 10%
MSNBC 31% 14% 6%
All Cable 23% 9% 7

Source: PEJ quarterly NCI Report

Note the following: during this period MSNBC’s percentage of time spent reporting on the Iraq War was more than double that of Fox News, while CNN’s coverage of the Iraq War related stories was about 67% higher.


Now let’s look at the passing of that most important and relevant of persons contributing to the betterment of the planet, Anna Nicole Smith. Here we see that Fox’s coverage of the death of this drug addled, gold digging, utterly irrelevant whore (am I being too harsh?) is more than double that of CNN and some 40% higher than that of MSNBC. Of course, knowing who the father of Anna Nicole’s baby is relates to our national interests and the need for citizens to know in ways that perhaps I don’t understand.

And I’m okay with not understanding that kind of horse hockey thinking.

When broken down further, the Ieaq War reportage percentage numbers gaps remain fairly consistent whether the cable news networks were reporting during the day or in the evening:

  Iraq War Total (all 3 threads) 2008 Presidential Campaign Anna Nicole Smith
Cable Daytime 15% 7% 11%
CNN 20% 2% 5%
Fox News 6% 5% 17%
MSNBC 18% 16% 10%
Cable Evening 25% 10% 6%
CNN 26% 8% 4%
Fox News 17% 10% 8%
MSNBC 36% 13% 4%

Source: PEJ Quarterly NCI Report

(One final note: you’ll want to take a look at the percentages offered on the coverage by these three cable news outlets on the Gonzales issue, too. It seems that Fox News doesn’t see that as very important, either.)

Now for a little analysis. Could it be that Fox News, a brazen arm of the Bush White House and a rabid attack dog against those who oppose administration policies is orchestrating its coverage of irrelevancies like the Anna Nicole story to mislead its viewers into thinking that the war isn’t that big a deal and that the debacle taking place in Iraq isn’t worth their attention?

Nah. They’d never do that. They’re a news organization. They’d never knowingly devalue the importance of a major story thread (see my note on the US attorney firings) for political purposes, would they?

Would they?

6 replies »

  1. I have been watching Fox and CNN on a regular basis and I think both organizations are reporting for ratings and not facts. If a news story is put together to promote the ratings so they make more money then I believe the news becomes unreliable.
    But hey, that’s just me.

  2. crackrjack wrote: “If a news story is put together to promote the ratings so they make more money then I believe the news becomes unreliable.
    But hey, that

  3. Fox News would NEVER mislead people. That’s just blatant bias against the most fair and balanced new sources in the history of the universe.

    All right, I’m being sarcastic. Clearly Fox needs to learn what’s news and what isn’t. And celebrities, no matter how famous or dead they are, are never news.

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