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Friday, November 5, 2010

Results Are In: Fox News Offered More Balanced Election Coverage than MSNBC

If you believe that the cable news landscape is symptomatic of our two-party political system, then you also probably, and predictably, saw a different tone in last nights election results. Fox News presented its coverage with a patina of celebration, while MSNBC’s took a more gloom and doom approach. But there was one important distinction between the two outlets: Fox News offered a far more balanced set of analysts for the election coverage than did MSNBC.

Fox News’ key decision in their approach to covering the election last night was putting their heaviest hitters on the bench, choosing their up-and-comers Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier to serve as hosts of their coverage, an overt effort to have their news anchors cover the election results instead of their opinion hosts (as opposed to MSNBC.)

But don’t just take our word for it, read what other media critics had to say. Writing for Time’s Tuned In blog James Poniewozik seemed to agree that Fox News was fairer than the lot:
To be fair, NBC did join coverage earlier, after an all-new Biggest Loser.) Fox News, for all its image as the Republican-friendly network, actually seemed to have the most reserved coverage in tone of the three big cablers, going with a more reserved set and less flashy graphics (granted, by cable news standards) than its competitors. A whiteboard was even employed.
Credit where due, Fox also had a more, well, balanced panel much of the night than its competitor MSNBC. Holding forth from left of center for Fox were the recently-high-profile Juan Williams and Democratic political guru Joe Trippi. MSNBC’s main lineup, on the other hand, was basically its center-to-left lineup of nightly hosts: Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell.
Politico also drew a similar distinction between the coverage and analysis provided by MSNBC and Fox News:
Although Fox News took the most criticism during this campaign season for its alleged bias, it was MSNBC — whose new “Lean Forward” tagline inspired CNN’s promo — that wore its point of view most on its sleeve Tuesday night.
MSNBC’s election coverage was led by a panel comprised mostly of its opinionated prime-time hosts (Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell, along with frequent contributor Eugene Robinson), with nary a conservative voice in the mix. In contrast, Fox News’s was provided by two anchors from its straight-news dayside, Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier, along with a panel that included conservatives like Karl Rove as well as liberals like Juan Williams. Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity stopped by only briefly.  (Full story here)

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