It used to be that with Fox News crossed over the line from obvioiusly-biased-news-coverage to outright-propaganda that the folks over at Media Matters would post a scathing condemnation of the nutoriously right-wing network. Those days are gone; it seems that such incidences happen with sufficient frequency that Media Matters just posts a screen-shot and allows Fox’s record speak for itself.
So it is that we come to the screen capture of Fox during the Mark Sanford press conference. Unless you’ve been out hiking on the Appalachian Trail for the past few days you are no doubt aware that South Carolina’s Governor Mark Sanford recently joined the proud ranks of Republican lawmakers who fight for the sanctity of everyone’s marriage but their own. Sanford’s mysterious disappearance was revealed to be a weekend junket to visit a mistress in Argentina and the ensuing political fallout has been another body-blow to the credibility of the already embattled Republican Party.
Except, apparently, on Fox News. Fox labeled Governor Sanford a Democrat in their “Fox News Alert” graphic and while the network later managed to get the Governor’s party straight, the mislabeling is part of a larger trend that seems to pervade Fox’s coverage of political scandal.
When news broke of Mark Foley’s “indiscretions” with underage male congressional pages, Fox labeled him a Democrat. Fox also mislabeled Ted Stephens, then under investigation for corruption in the Senate, a Democrat and gave a similar treatment to Larry Craig when he was caught soliciting sex from a plain-clothes police officer in an airport bathroom. Fox did not label Craig a Democrat but instead went well out of its way to avoid mentioning his party affiliation altogether.
Such a sequence of “coincidences” would be more than enough to nail Fox to the wall were it not for the record of incompetence that the network as a whole has established. Fox has mislabeled the like Republican challenger for Arlen Specter’s seat as a Democrat, swapped the party affiliations of the candidates in Rhode Island’s Senate race, and even mislabeled John McCain as a Democrat back in February of 2008.
Perhaps more significant is the curious absence of embattled Democrats labeled as Republicans, an error that seems curiously uncommon at Fox. Part of that may be attributable to the comparative lull in Democratic political scandals in recent years. Save for that of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and New York Governor Elliot Spitzer, the Democrats have enjoyed somewhat of a respite from the Clinton years at least insofar as scandal is concerned and there has thus been little opportunity for such an error to occur. Conservative bloggers have seized upon what in their view is an insufficiently prominent treatment of Spitzer’s and Blagojevich’s party affiliation as evidence of bias in other media outlets (notably MSNBC and the AP) though few if any complaints of this nature have been leveled against Fox.
Bias? Propaganda? Incompetence? Where is the line between lazy journalism and outright deception? We report; you decide.