Monday, September 6, 2010

Was Fox Wrong?

So, even though I try not to talk about Fox News all the time, I pick on them often. There's a host of reasons but probably the biggest one is that they are a ratings giant. They, head and shoulders, beat other news channels in the ratings. Therefore, they should be seen as the "flagship" for broadcast journalism. They set the bar.

Recently you may have heard about Fox's parent company donating $1 million to the republican governor's association. If not, you can read a quick bit about it here. I read the story last week but decided not to use it for the blog.

Then, another story surfaced showing that the Democratic Governor's Association was going to sue Fox for illegal campaign contributions. Apparently, Fox interviewed an Ohio gubernatorial candidate and allowed him to state where campaign contributions could be sent. This often happens on air. The big difference was that Fox showed a graphic revealing the candidate's website while the donation pitch was being made. The DGA claims that showing the graphic while the candidate was asking for money was basically free publicity amounting to nothing less than an advertisement. There were some other arguments made by the DGA as to why the interview should be considered an "in kind contribution" to the candidate. Read the full report here.

So here's my question. Do you think Fox is acting illegally? Do you think Fox is crossing an ethical line here in promoting republican candidates over democrats either through this latest claim or through the $1 million donation?

P.S. - please remember to write your name at the bottom of your post so i can tell who is who. Also, i've discovered that a spam filter on blogger has "zapped" some of your comments. If you are posting, but not seeing it online, please let me know so i can give credit and address the issue. Thanks.


Cperkins said...

I am not inclined to say that Fox News is acting illegally. There are many times that authors talk about books and have websites listed under their pictures. This is publicity. Although this is marketing, it is not directly considered advertising. The person being promoted does not have a say in how they are promoted.

I would tend to lean more towards the unethical from a journalistic side. Journalism is supposed to be unbiased and bipartisan.

With that being said, if you hold one station to these standards, you have to hold all stations to these standards. Fox News is a right wing, conservative station. No questions asked! However, CNN and other news stations are Left wing, liberal. They favor democratic candidates.

Taylor Lang said...

First off, I don’t believe that Fox is acting illegally. The Fox network is already classified as a conservative network and has a long history of supporting republican candidates and the issues that coincide with that party. Fox airing Glenn Beck’s show is validation of their conservative stance. Posting additional information on the screen where viewers can support the individual in a news story is nothing new. Usually additional information for donations is provided for missing persons, fallen soldiers etc…

As I see it, Fox has not acted illegally or unethically. The average viewer should know that Fox is a conservative network and will support the Republican Governor’s Association. From the way I see it, the DGA saw a way to bring awareness to the issue of Fox being unethical and create more support for their own causes. In the end, I don’t believe that its stance will prove to be effective or uphold in court, but has done its part in making this controversy public.

Paula said...

I believe that FOX was acting illegally regardless to their stance in the media. Does that give you grounds to do things that are so obvious?

Fox News should be held accountable for its actions by releasing the names of its participants of the millon dollar donation. I further commend Mr. Daschle for standing up for what he believes and taking action.

Paula Gaylor

Renita Moore said...

Personally, I believe that Fox has the right to endorse whomever they choose to. Although journalism is supposed to be unbias, there are so many times that that argument is breached. I have learned that society allows who and what society allows.
Fox makes no mistake that they back Republicans 100%. No matter what the discussion is on Fox, they lean towards Republican always. Frankly, I do not care for Fox News.

Renita Moore

Jeremy D. said...

Yes, it sounds to me that Fox is acting illegally. I’m not that big into politics, nor do I know much about governmental functions, but I have always heard rumors that Fox News operates with a hidden agenda. Rumors such as the network is being ran by the Republicans and that every time they do a report on the President and the Democratic Party, it is almost always negative. It seems to me that for a public network to show favoritism towards a certain governmental party is unethical.

I also think Fox is crossing an ethical line in promoting republican candidates over democrats through both this latest claim and through the $1 million donation. If Fox is going to advertise for a candidate of one party then they should keep it fair and have to advertise for a candidate of both parties. Giving a contribution of any monetary value seems unfair to me. Fox News should just play an unbiased role and stay out of it.

Jeremy D.

Melissa Laster said...

I do not think that Fox is acting illegally. I believe that they have the right to promote anything they want. Fox is known as a conservative station anyway.
I do not believe that Fox was crossing the line. I think that because they are a big ratings channel they should be careful with what they do and how they do it. I believe that many candidates go on television to promote themselves. That means they put up a website you can go to too give donations. I think that Fox should be able to promote any candidate they want to.

bkp36 said...

Fox is definitely drawing a new line in the sand. How the line will hold up is yet to be determined. I do not feel the $1m donation was unethical because corporations are allowed to make campaign donations. This opportunity will continue to grow over the next few years with the Supreme Court's ruling to remove the $1,000 cap for corporate donations for federal campaigns. I 100-percent disagree with this ruling but nonetheless it is what it is.

I believe the free promotion during the news program was unethical. The free advertisement clearly falls against the laws of the state. I believe the Republicans would sue the Democrats if the roles were reversed.

Once again the media is trying to influence government though its customers. We are affected by it every day by cable, radio or newspapers. Journalism should be non-bias yet the parent companies have a right to make contributions as they sees fit. I don’t feel that makes it right but we open up our homes to such actions and we choose to watch, read, and listen to media we most often agree with.


Megan said...

I am unsure as of whether Fox acted illegally or legally. I'm not a lawyer, unfortunately. But I do believe that Fox should have freedom of speech. They should be able to endorse whomever they choose to endorse. Most people do know that Fox is a very conservative television station. If you don't like it, you have that right. Just like they should have the right of freedom of speech.

Now as Cperkins said, what Fox did may be unethical.

Megan Copley

john ray said...

I do not think that Fox acted illegally, they are simply "playing the game"! I believe the entire campaigning scheme is corrupt and leads to corrupt politicians. Fox is simply keeping up with the other large promoters. The campaign fundraising scheme its a formula for bribes, kickbacks, and doing favors to get what you want.

I wish all networks would refrain from promoting any candidate and would simply report the news. There should be no agendas or attempts to influence the public. Fox News along with the other networks should stop taking advantage of their influence over the public, and give the facts with no interpretation or persuasion.
John Ray

LHipp said...

It is not illegal for a corporation to donate to a political party. And as for names behind the donation, there is one: Rupert Murdoch. He was asked by the RGA to donate and he did. A quick search of the Federal Election Commission site will show that corporate media owners often pass out cash to both sides. PACS for Time Warner (owns CNN), Walt Disney (owns ABC) and GE (owns NBC, MSNBC, CNBC) all gave money to both Republican and Democratic PACS and candidates. I don’t remember seeing that reported. Fox is a right-leaning network so I don’t think their donation will truly cloud their reporting.

On the candidate issue, it is an interesting question of whether Fox violated the FCC’s equal time rule or public interest standard. Both require federal and state candidates to get equal time. And I don’t know how strict Ohio’s elections laws are nor did I see the broadcast. I’m assuming the Democratic candidate did not get any air time because they were not mentioned. But we don’t know if they were offered an appearance at the same time and turned it down. That conveniently would pave the way for a DGA complaint. Of course, it is clearly advantageous for the DGA to file such a complaint. Don’t think for a second they are worried about the purity of our Democracy. If anything, they’re probably worried about their candidate’s chances and are throwing everything they can to distract the public.

Laura Hipp

Anonymous said...


In my opinion, Fox is not acting illegally or unethically. I don't think they have crossed the line by donating money to the Republicans Governor's Association.

Just by being an average viewer, it is obvious that Fox favors Republicans, so if they want to donate to their association, that's up to them. I agree with John Ray saying that Fox is just "playing the game." Any news station can donate to whomever they so desire.

Sara Walters

jessimpson said...

The news is supposed to be delivered in an unbiased and professional manner. Fox and CNN, however, follow their own rules. Conservatives watch Fox and Liberals watch CNN. This is absolutely ludicrous. There should be a national news station that is not so biased. I believe another ethical rule should be for these news stations to not promote anything political. It is just a bad idea. To promote an up-and-coming author's book is one good idea, but to promote a political candidate is totally a bad idea. It is unethical. I do not believe it is illegal but definitely unethical. These news stations could sway the voters by promoting candidates. That is not news.

If I were the Democratic candidate I would be taking the same actions he is to make sure that this does not happen again (fat chance). $1 million to the Republican candidate and allowing him to advertise on Fox should be illegal. News used to expose the bad candidates and the bad happenings all over the country. Many bad people were prosecuted because of the amazing work these news reporters did. We need to return to those times. The news is supposed to work for us, the United States citizens, not one guy running for office.
Jessica Simpson

jerodine said...

Yes, I believe that fox acting illegally. I think fox should be able to endorse whomever they choose to endorse. I do not believe that fox was crossing the line because they are a big ratings channel. I believe that many candidates go on television to promote themselves.

Journalism is supposed to be unbiased. One thing about fox they don't makes no mistake they back repulicans up. No matter what the discussion is on fox, they take care the repulican always.

Yureka Lawrence said...

I believe that the coporates at Fox News are smart enough to make sure that things done on air are legally within limits before it is done. Fox News is suppose to be the number one network for the people. I believe this was biase of Fox News to give a donations or to allow free publicity.

Is this a surprise to anyone? As a african american female its not to me! Everyone knows that Fox News is suppose to be conservative. When it comes down to news reporting they are suppose to report on what matters to everyone. When a major giant like Fox News seems to leaning toward certain candidates and gets very tacky in my opinion.

emdaco said...

I do not think Fox News has acted illegally. If the network is choosing to let a candidate advertise without charging them, that is their choice. Have they crossed an ethical line? Crossing ethical boundaries is part of Fox News' mission statement. Their entire primetime line-up is a list of individuals who are proud to be homophobes, racists, and anti-poor people.

I doubt anyone is surprised that they donated money to the Reich...excuse me...the Republican Party. However, if I say that's wrong, then I have to say it's wrong when MSNBC gives airtime to DNC candidates, and I just can't do that (those are practically public service announcements). Both sides do it, and they are both preaching to the choir. Fox News' audience consists of people that would be to the far right even if the channel didn't exist, and MSNBC's audience consists of people that would be to the far left with or without them as well. Both sides do it so frequently, it's hard to distinguish whether it is unethical or just business as usual.

--Emily Conroy

Daniel said...
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Daniel said...

I do not believe that FOX acted illegally or unethically by making this contribution. It is well known that Fox tends to be more conservative while CNN and most other media outlets are more liberal. I think it is a shame how much negative publicity is being given to this situation.

FOX and any other media outlet should be able to voice their support for whomever they choose. With regards to reporting on news stories they should remain bipartisan. This is America and everyone should be able to voice their opinion and give support to whomever they choose, even big media outlets.

Daniel Ray

ccleggett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ccleggett said...

Without knowing all the ins and outs of contribution law, I have to say it doesn't seem to me that Fox News acted illegally in contributing to their candidate of choice, or by displaying the website address during the interview. I also don't believe they acted unethically because they have never concealed the fact that they are a conservative organization or that they favor candidates from the Republican party. I don't watch any of the networks, but I am sure that the other networks engage in the same treatment of their favored candidates.
As idealistic as it sounds to have all journalism be completely unbiased, I have to say I think it is the bias of these stations, whichever direction they lean, that emphasizes BOTH sides the news. That bias allows a more thorough examination of the issues than would exist in a "middle of the road" world of journalism.

Carol Leggett

Rob said...

I do not believe that Fox acted illegally. Furthermore, both political parties engage in these types of games; if one feels the other has any type of advantage, there will almost certainly be a law suit.
The ironic thing to me is that virtually all media outlets (except Fox) cater to the Democratic Party. But since Fox is, by far, the most successful media station, it drives the liberals crazy. What we all have to keep in mind is that Fox, Turner, etc. are businesses. The larger the profit, the more successful the business; Fox accomplishes their success by providing a “non-liberal” news outlet. At some point, the other media outlets will be forced to adjust their programming away from the far left. Additionally, since Fox does not "bow down" to the liberals; they have received the stigma of being "totally" conservative. Although, the station certainly leans conservative, they have some excellent moderate journalists; Juan Williams is one that comes to mind.
I believe that the viewers of all news stations realize that many of the programs are opinionated, not necessarily completely non-biased news. For example, a viewer of Glen Beck should easily recognize that he supports conservatives. On the flip side, a viewer of Chris Matthews should quickly realize that he is a liberal supporter.


Hunter Boerner said...

I do not think Fox is acting illegally. I think it is the stations decision on what they want to show on their broadcast or who they want to support. It is pretty apparent by the way the broadcast forms their stories and opinions that they are very conservative, so why should a graphic during a read be that much of a difference?

I do not think fox is crossing an ethical line in promoting republican candidates over democrats through their latest claim or through the 1 million donation. I feel like just because there are more democrat influenced news shows than republican, they are always finding a way to try and break down fox as a power house. I do see how democrats could potentially be mad if they have all together avoided posting any graphics or reads about democratic candidates, but I think they are just as guilty for not following rules as Fox whether it be talking about other candidates or framing stories in a more liberal light.

Hunter Boerner

Beth ann said...

All the major news networks seem to have their own political agenda. These political agendas are driven by the viewpoints of the owner and the stock holders. It is common knowledge that Fox News is a major conservative news network and CNN is a major liberal network. I have seen them report about same political information but spin it to their own political beliefs. A prime example of this was on the report on the health care legislation. Fox News leaned their reporting to the Republicans viewpoints on these issues, while CNN leaned their reporting more to the Democrat viewpoint. It is oblivious they are both playing to the interest of their viewers.
It will be up to the courts to decide if FoxNews broke any campaign contributions laws. I do not think Fox News broke any such laws nor was it unethical reporting. They may have gotten close but did not cross the line. If you chose to watch Fox News you know you will be getting a conservative slant on issues. Anytime they can promote conservative political candidates they are going to do so. The same is true for CNN who will put a liberal slant on the same issues and promote liberal candidates. There is no true news reporting where you report the news and let the viewers draw their own conclusion. It seems the networks are trying to influence how you look at certain issues or how you vote in political races.
The fact of this whole matter is that Fox News is the top rated cable news network and their actions are going to be watched closely by all other news networks who are trying to knock them off as the top network. Fox News has promoted that they a are “fair and balanced” in their news reporting. If other networks can prove to the public they are not “fair and balanced” in their reporting, they can discredit the network and helpfully cut into their rating. Being the network with the most viewers is automatically ging to attract more companies who want to purchase advertisement time. I feel money and politics are driving this issues.
Beth Ann Wade

lhw55 said...

I believe that the problem lies much deeper than Fox's actions on this issue. First off I don't think that fox has broken the law over the campaign promotion, but I think that the ethics of this news channel and many others are horrible.
You can not find a news channel that has no political ties. Is this true news media? I thought that news was supposed to present facts as they happen in our world in an unbiased fashion. Its known that MSNBC is far left, along with most other news channels and Fox is far right in their interpretation of the news. I think that this fact in itself is unethical. The viewers trust these news channels to keep them updated with the facts. I believe that when ANY news channel presents the news in the light that they choose then they have acted unethically. Fox is definitely in the wrong here, but if you turn one channel over you will see MSNBC and CNN doing the exact same thing. The problem does not lie with who supports which side of the political isle. The problem is that the news is not reporting facts, uninterpreted and unbiased.

Luke West (lhw55)

scacapit said...

I don't know what the laws are to say whether they broke the law or not. I think that if there are set rules for the stations to go by then All should abide by them. I think they should have thought before taking the money and not informing the public who paid for it.

As far as Fox news being unethical, what station really is. News, televison, medias is mostly opinion based and for money making purposes only. The code of ethics is non-existant

hallen said...

I really do not believe Fox News is acting illegaly; however, I do think they are crossing an ethical line here. I always joke that if you flip channels real fast between CNN and Fox you get a glimpse of the truth. I think the idea of a completely objective media is a noble thought; however, I personally believe that this has never really been the case. The media has always been slanted. Look at the old news reels from the 30's and 40's. That's obviously slanted as "pro American".

The question in my mind is: is having a right leaning news network wrong? As long as their is an opposing voice, I think we preserve free speech. What would really scare me is if all the news networks were leaning in a single direction. Either direction scares me the same!

Henry Allen

Lisa Scott said...

I do not think that Fox is acting illegally with its' recent campaign contributions to the Republican party; however, I do think that it is acting unethically. Fox News has a responsibility to the public to report the news in an unbiased manner. This responsibility is stated in Fox's slogan "Fair and Balanced". Fox's actions and biased reporting are the exact opposite.

Freedom of the press is protected by the First Amendment. The government cannot censor or interfere with a new outlet's reporting. After all, these new outlets are stating their opinion and have the right to promote their point of view. However, journalist have a moral or ethical responsibility to the public to report news in an unbiased manner so that the public can make an informed decision. Fox fails in this sense because it is acting immorally in promoting the Republican party all the while claiming to be "Fair and Balanced".

Lisa Scott

Anonymous said...

I’m not absolutely sure about the laws, but if a major media giant like Fox News is soliciting for donations for a particular politician is not illegal, it should be. If Fox News is one of the most watched news channels, then they have a lot of clout when it comes to posting a chyron of a candidate’s website. They should have at least posted a disclaimer if they wanted to show Kasich’s website. I think they should at least be held accountable for their actions, and at least make a statement about the incident.
I think ethically they did cross a boundary. Journalism is supposed to be objective. Fox News is a biased corporation, whether they say they aren’t or not. And I think ethically their continuous actions of supporting Republics is wrong. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion; however, for a person to form their own opinion based on their personal beliefs they need all the facts from all sides. That’s what people rely on the news for. However, those who are avid watchers of Fox News tend to base their opinions about political candidates on biased ideas being delivered to them by a biased news source.

JOHN B said...

I do not believe that Fox News acted illegally in their one million dollar donation to the Republican Governors’ Association. Although I am not familiar with Ohio campaign contribution laws, I do not believe that their posting of the Republican gubernatorial candidate’s website on the screen during an interview was illegal. The posting of the website may have been pushing the line a little as far as ethics are concerned. However, this is a common practice on many networks. If this practice is considered unethical for Fox, it should also be considered unethical for other networks, including CNN. There is little doubt that the media influences the public in the selection of our elected officials. While Fox may skew their views toward the Republicans, CNN obviously skews their views toward the Democrats. I believe that these differences of opinion provide balance to the news. People who prefer the Democrats will gravitate toward CNN while those who prefer the Republicans will be supportive of Fox. There would be no need for campaigns or elections if we all had the same exact political philosophies.

It appears that the Democratic Governors’ Association is taking advantage of this incident to try to discredit Fox because Fox is not supportive of their views. According to the article, the Democrats benefited from the incident by an increase in contributions to their cause.

John Rabalais

drm198 said...
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drm198 said...

I do not believe that Fox News is acting illegally. Fox News does tend to lean toward the Republican side just as networks such as CNN and MSNBC tend to lean toward the Democratic side and I would be willing to bet that these networks would have no problems supporting Democratic candidates.

I do believe however that it poses an ethical issue. As Cperkins stated "Journalism is supposed to be unbiased and bipartisan" and I could not agree more. That being said, I will watch Fox over MSNBC and CNN any day.

Don Maher

ntabernathy said...

Illegal and unethical are two different things. As a journalist news source, Fox News crosses the lines many times in my opinion of acting unethically. I would consider myself more a left-leaning Republican… if that makes any sense. However it is very difficult more to take Fox News as anything but entertainment and a cable television network trying to make ratings and in turn more money. It is merely one big right-wing infomercial.

However they obviously have the right to broadcast and donate as an institution as they see fit. The recent Supreme Court ruling that change campaign contribution limits was off base in the interpretation of the Constitutional rights. I feel this has sort of re-opened Pandora’s box. And this contribution is a good example of money being thrown to support an agenda. Fox News stays friendly with the Republicans and they keep their massive ratings.

Nick Abernathy

Rebecca G. said...
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Rebecca G. said...

I don't think that Fox News did anything illegal however I'm not that familiar with the laws regarding this. As for unethical behavior in promoting one party over another, I don't see where it's all that different from my company supporting one candidate over another in a local election.

I don't believe there's any such thing as totally unbiased news. I would like to think the general public realizes this when watching Fox News, CNN, etc.

Rebecca Grimes

clp said...

I’m not very political, so I can’t say for sure if Fox displaying the republican gubernatorial candidate’s donation information was illegal. After searching the internet for a definition of in kind contributions; I don’t feel that what Fox did would be considered a good or service. I think that most adults recognize Fox as a conservative news source and CNN as a liberal news source. Unfortunately nonpartisan news is virtually nonexistent today. The era of Walter Cronkite is over. The public as a whole distrust politician and to some extent distrust the media. I grow weary of guarding myself from the slant that the media often times place on the news. I wish that no one could contribute money to political parties. The fairest thing to do would be to disallow political campaigning such as: television ads, print ads and other forms of advertising. Politicians should be given equal media coverage by all networks in the form of interviews, debates and story coverage. I want to hear the issues, not why I should or shouldn’t vote for someone. I will make up my own mind based on the issues that are important to me. My vote is my own and it cannot be bought with campaign ads or salacious headlines. America as a whole needs to focus on the issues and vote for which ever candidate best represents what they want America to be.
A news journalist’s political views should not be known by the public. I find it distasteful that a journalist would taint the news with his or her bias. A journalist job is to report the news, not to be the news. It is for this reason that I don’t think of politically biased shows such as “The Bill O’Reilly Show” or “Larry King Live” as news. These shows are for entertainment purposes only in my mind. It is unethical for any news network to contribute any amount of money to any political party, because the network is then seen as biased to a particular party. Even though I see Fox’s contribution as unethical, I do not see it as illegal. I think it would be more tactful and ethical if the owners of news networks donated as individuals rather than through their corporations.

Codi Phillips

David said...

First of all, I was shocked that Fox News is the giant in the news network world. I assumed it was one of the flagships such as ABC, CBS, or NBC. When I watch Fox News from time to time (not much on TV) the commentators or hosts don't hide the fact they are conservative supporters. All of my friends either love or hate Fox depending on which side of the political fence they reside on for this very reason. If they state they are conservative, then why not support what you, and obviously your viewership, believe in; the viewers are the ones the advertisers are trying to reach and the advertisers are the income drivers of the networks.

Other networks claim to be neutral or unbiased but it has been my experience there is always a bias in some direction depending on the topic at hand. It may not be left or right but may be capitalism versus socialism. I think we need equal reporting with fair representation of facts however I have little issue with individuals and corporations donating money to political parties as long as it is not out of bounds.

I would like to see other news stations have a notice prior to a news special based on their respective biases. A good example of disclosure would be a Canadian reporter doing a special on healthcare or Boone Pickens doing a special on the safety of offshore drilling. Fair disclosure gives the viewer a better chance of interpreting the point of view.

David Tuyo

Brandon said...

Oh Fox News, how you always create controversy.

Fox News is without doubt one of the most popular and defining news channels on television right now. I am not an avid watcher but on the few occasions when I have decided to watch, I have felt clear and definite party "leanings" but never overt connections.

It would seem that the $1MM donation would be slightly more overt and forward.

Now I am not particularly familiar with the rules for political contributions but unless there is a clearly defined rule disallowing the showing of a website during an interview or defining what exactly constitutes the separation of interviews and "pitching" then I so not feel like it was illegal. I think whether overt, blatant, or intentional that the implication is there regardless.

I feel like the DGA is playing more of a reactionary game and instead should focus more on their own campaign and allow the governing bodies to deal with any possible infractions. If there was a rule broken then punishment should be given and if not then all is well.

I think Fox is just slightly showing their hand in terms of political "leaning" but let's all be honest it is not as if Fox has ever had a good poker face in that arena as it is.

Brandon Deering

Ebb said...

I believe that Fox can endorse whatever they want,just as many other news stations. Journalism is supposed to be unbias, but you have a lot of them that are bias.
Fox news is just doing their job on getting the information on what the people want, whether they want to hear it or not that's what it's going to be. I myself watches on the news channels and I don't really see one being any different from the other. They are bringing you the news.