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Pew Research Finds Opinion Dominates MSNBC More Than Fox News 277

Posted by timothy
from the whose-lies-whose-damn-lies-whose-statistics dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Jack Mirkinson reports that Pew Research Center's annual "State of the Media" study found that, since 2007, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC have all cut back sharply on the amount of actual reporting found on their airwaves. Cheaper, more provocative debate or interview segments have largely filled the void. Pew found that Fox News spent 55 percent of the time on opinion and 45 percent of the time on reporting. Critics of that figure would likely contend that the network's straight news reporting tilts conservative, but it is true that Fox News has more shows that feature reporting packages than MSNBC does. According to Pew MSNBC made the key decision to reprogram itself in prime time as a liberal counterweight to the Fox News Channel's conservative nighttime lineup. The new MSNBC strategy and lineup were accompanied by a substantial cut in interview time and sharply increased airtime devoted to edited packages. The Pew Research examination of programming in December 2012 found MSNBC by far the most opinionated of the three networks, with nearly 90% of MSNBC's primetime coverage coming in the form of opinion or commentary."
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Pew Research Finds Opinion Dominates MSNBC More Than Fox News

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  • :-0

    [my surprised face]

    • :-0

      [my surprised face]

      Hmm... Looks a lot like an "o-face" [urbandictionary.com], but -- given that this is /. -- the similarity is to be expected.

  • Misleadingly framed (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This is as misleading as the studies that "disproved" that organic food is more nutritious. Nobody was making the claim they disproved. The basic claim about Fox News' bias is that every single story is framed in such a way to reinforce a distorted, reactionary worldview.

  • by dalias (1978986) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @08:37AM (#43256087)
    This is as misleading as the studies that "disproved" that organic food is more nutritious. Nobody was making the claim they disproved. The basic claim about Fox News' bias is that every single story is framed in such a way to reinforce a distorted, reactionary worldview, even when it's supposedly NOT an opinion piece.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Indeed, and beside which commentary isn't necessarily bad. The BBC offers comments on most stories but is careful to do so in a way that just puts them in context.

      • by Mashiki (184564)

        Indeed, and beside which commentary isn't necessarily bad. The BBC offers comments on most stories but is careful to do so in a way that just puts them in context.

        Would this be the same BBC that is and has been routinely been caught lying about events in the middle east? I thought so. No they're just as guilty of "inserting opinion as news" and have been for a fewl decades, the quality of the Beeb has degraded hard and fast.

    • by LWATCDR (28044) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @09:25AM (#43256275) Homepage Journal

      And you are just blind if you do not get hat MSNBC is exactly the same. Odds are their bias just happens to be your bias as well.. They both are just terrible.

      • by Ironhandx (1762146) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @10:01AM (#43256441)

        As someone outside of america looking in, but seeing all of these stations from time to time...

        MSNBC is as much total bullshit as fox news is, they fail, but they fail less hard because they frame their bullshit as what it is, bullshit. Fox puts on 'reporting' programs supposedly reporting facts but often the facts are distorted and they've got commentary that destroys what truth there was in the report.

        CNN is the only halfway decent major news network in the U.S. They shift back and forth from 25% bullshit to 75% bullshit depending on what current events are going on, but their news reporting IS news reporting and their bullshit is framed as such. Its actually not a terrible station even on an international comparison.

        • Frankly, I lost a lot of respect for CNN when they turned CNN Headline News, arguably the only place in the US where you could get national news without spin, and turned it into E! News.

    • Exactly. This is a misleading study. They looked at who had the most opinion. Not who runs the most slanted stories, who reports the facts incorrectly. When studies and polls have looked at the facts, Fox News viewers don't come out on top [telegraph.co.uk].
    • by stenvar (2789879)

      The basic claim about Fox News' bias is that every single story is framed in such a way to reinforce a distorted, reactionary worldview, even when it's supposedly NOT an opinion piece.

      In modern politics, the term "reactionary" is mainly a derogatory term for those who oppose socialist and progressive ideologies. Yes, Fox is unapologetically opposed to socialism and progressivism, as are the majority of Americans. And as such, even in its new segments, Fox tends to select stories intended to show failures of

  • by Rockoon (1252108) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @08:51AM (#43256151)
    If they have to tell you that they are 'fair and balanced' then its likely that they aren't, but also add in everything that tells you that it 'leans forward', or other crap.

    The Soviet Unions national newspaper, during the height of the governments paranoid plummet into self destruction, was called 'Pravda' which translates to 'Truth' or 'Justice' in Russian.

    When was the last time a 'breaking story' was something uncovered by an investigative reporter, rather than spoon fed to it by pundits or politicians?
    • Lean Forward is a motto that means "get engaged". It is not a comment on their content.

      • by glueball (232492)

        The "Forward" motto is also meaningful to Marxist political terminology. I would doubt people as smart as MSNBC keeps telling people they are would chose the word without historical understanding.

  • Before we had a 24 hour news cycle there was still some merit in reviewing coverage of an event or an idea from multiple sources. It was more difficult then, because a good deal of the time Brokaw, Rather, and the morning paper were repeating the same AP/Reuters news report. Today you can get your news du jour on several cable channels, the networks, and at least a thousand places on the interwebs. It is still a good idea to check a story in more than one place before accepting it as accurate.
    • by mbone (558574)

      Actually, Brokaw, Rather and company were generally repeating what was in the New York Times that morning. When I was in school I used to both read the Times and watch the evening news regularly, and the fit was pretty amazing.

  • by Elbereth (58257) <krachtm@yahoo.com> on Saturday March 23, 2013 @08:54AM (#43256171) Homepage Journal

    Opinions are cheap. Reporters cost money.

    Increasingly, people only seem to care about being outraged, anyway. Just look at all the blogs out there -- they're basically nothing more than "outrage of the day" articles, cynically designed to appeal to shallow, emotional outbursts. Slashdot is often guilty of this, as well. I'm not sure whether this trend took hold in Old Media or New Media first, but it has totally dominated New Media, and now the Old Media are struggling to stay relevant, by showing they can be just as fluffy and reactionary as the New Media. In some ways, I think this is just a natural progression of trends started in the 1990s. Hell, maybe it started a lot earlier than that, but that's when I remember things getting worse. My parents would probably say it started around 60s or 70s.

    • by wbr1 (2538558)
      >Opinions are cheap....cynically designed to appeal to shallow, emotional outbursts
      -then-
      > I think this is just a natural progression of trends started in the 1990s. Hell, maybe it started a lot earlier than that, but that's when I remember things getting worse>

      Cynical, check
      Opinion, check
      Emotional, somewhat

      Yet another cheap opinion?
    • by khallow (566160)
      Information is free. Attention is not.

      And yellow journalism has been around as long as there have been newspapers.
    • I'm not sure whether this trend took hold in Old Media or New Media first

      Old Media invented it long before New Media was even imagined. [wikipedia.org] The whole idea of "objective journalism" is a relatively recent canard; for most of the news media's existence, it's been unashamedly partisan and emotional. What we're seeing now is really a return to form.

  • by mbone (558574) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @09:04AM (#43256209)

    Bloviating is cheap and easy, actual reporting is expensive and hard. What more do you need to know?

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @09:20AM (#43256255)

    Nowhere. Ever. Why does anyone ever think that something like this could exist? Because you have free press? That only means that they are allowed to spread different lies than the government.

    EVERY kind of reporting is biased. Even just reporting a fact is, because the question is why this fact was reported and not another one. And considering the amount of stuff happening around the globe, even trying to report everything to give a fully unbiased view is a futile task.

    • by mbone (558574)

      Nowhere. Ever. Why does anyone ever think that something like this could exist? Because you have free press? That only means that they are allowed to spread different lies than the government.

      EVERY kind of reporting is biased. Even just reporting a fact is, because the question is why this fact was reported and not another one. And considering the amount of stuff happening around the globe, even trying to report everything to give a fully unbiased view is a futile task.

      Quite true. What you leave out, however, is that you can asymptotically approach objectivity. You will never get there, but you can get closer by using objective measures to search for bias, which is a very powerful tool. (It is, in fact, the basis of the scientific method.) Likewise, the inability to describe all important facts does not mean that you cannot conclude that certain facts are important, which, again, can be incredibly valuable. One advantage of the Internet is that it makes it possible to eva

  • by guttentag (313541) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @09:27AM (#43256281) Journal

    Pew Research Finds Opinion Dominates MSNBC More Than Fox News

    The headline suggests that Fox's news is less opinionated than MSNBC's News.

    Pew found that Fox News spent 55 percent of the time on opinion and 45 percent of the time on reporting... with nearly 90% of MSNBC's primetime coverage coming in the form of opinion or commentary.

    So we're talking about the type of shows being aired on the channel: "News"* or Opinion, not the slant of the news being presented. It would be more accurate to say "MSNBC Primetime Programming Reformulated to Include Nearly 90% Opinion," but that wouldn't be as provocative and get as many page views.

    Fox News has a history of presenting "news" that is so slanted it's the butt of many jokes ("that story is so biased it should be on Fox News... if only it was funny it could be on the Onion"), so I'd argue that Fox's "News" programming counts in the opinion category.

    That said, the story is actually about the increased polarization between MSNBC's lineup and Fox's. One would like think that a "news" channel as laughably-biased as Fox would not survive long, because it's not actually providing news. But they're successful because they've found that people want to be told things that seem to reinforce their own perceptions. That keeps them watching. MSNBC is just acknowledging this and reformulating to do the same for the left-leaning audience.

    This is a bad thing, even if you're too intelligent to watch either of these channels, because they suck people in and polarize opinions. Then people walk around spreading these polarized opinions by word of mouth like conspiracy theories, and you end up with polarized politicians running the country who have no reason to compromise and get things done because they won't be re-elected if they compromise.

    *As a former print journalist, I think all TV "news" is garbage by design. It's Jerry-Springer-esque entertainment disguised as news. It's formulated to tease you with provocative blurbs suggesting they're going to give you some juicy story, after you watch a bunch of other stuff and commercials. When they finally get to the promised story, it typically contains far less information than a print news story would because it takes too much time to do that much talking, and most people would lose interest part-way through.

    • Yes, it is all about world view. Fox's straight news reports as if all conservative world views are correct so you get off teh cuff assumptions that make my head explode....they also seem to cover useless crap more than MSNBC like "car chase in L.A." or "Missing White Girl in AZ". And Fox's morning show is ridiculous. MSNBC's "Morning Joe" is the only show that has decent issues covered.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 23, 2013 @10:18AM (#43256525)

      Numbers are included to look objective but if you read the footnotes, you can see that the study was designed to generate high numbers for the opinion category. A segment was considered to be opinion if at least 25% of it was opinion. So, if the format in one news organization was for every story to spend 70% of the air-time on fact based news, the study would still show that 0% of the programming was fact based and 100% was opinion. Not exactly the results one would expect. If, on the other hand, a news organization's format was to have 70% of their shows as entirely fact based and 30% as entirely opinion based, the study would report what you would expect: 70% of the programming was fact based. So, in this example, you have two new organizations that both spend 70% of air-time on fact based coverage and the study reports one as 100% opinion and the other is reported as 30% opinion. The numbers can be made to show whatever you want based on how you decide to calculate them.

    • by mbone (558574)

      *As a former print journalist, I think all TV "news" is garbage by design. It's Jerry-Springer-esque entertainment disguised as news. It's formulated to tease you with provocative blurbs suggesting they're going to give you some juicy story, after you watch a bunch of other stuff and commercials. When they finally get to the promised story, it typically contains far less information than a print news story would because it takes too much time to do that much talking, and most people would lose interest part-way through.

      (Very nice summary, by the way.)

      I would disagree with this in one particular - TV can show events live, in real time, which can be just provocation, but which can also show you things that get filtered out afterwards. As one example, I always try and watch Presidential debates in real time, and not infrequently have felt, either watching the talking heads just afterwards, or reading about it in the paper the next day, that they sure weren't watching the same event I was.

      I frankly think of Fox news as value-

  • by StarWreck (695075) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @09:31AM (#43256303) Homepage Journal
    At least Fox tries to pretend its unbiased. Whereas Fox has never-ending coverage of why all Democrat policies are bad, MSNBC has never-ending coverage of how all Republicans are evil racists that want to rape all women all the time and kill old people and put blacks back into slavery. MSNBC "personalities", openly, with no hint of irony, call a white republican a racist and a black republican a "house negro" in the same breath. On a nearly daily basis to boot. There is not even the slightest pretense of unbiased coverage with MSNBC, its a straight-up fifth column. It spreads the holy message of the democratic party as though it was gospel, no matter how ridiculous that message might be on a particular day.

    I think I'll stick with my BBC News thank you, I like their proper British matter-of-factly way of telling the news and outside looking in approach to US coverage.
    • by modmans2ndcoming (929661) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @09:50AM (#43256389)

      BBC and Al Jazeera are better than any news in the US.

      • BBC used to be impartial. Comparing BBC to news on the Internet it is clear the BBC now has a political Left bias that is anti-Israel (if it is anti-Israeli they always go with it, they don't fact check: eg. their reporting on their associate's child tragically killed in Gaza and accused the Israelis when in fact it was a Hamas rocket that killed her - proper journalists don't make up stuff to match their narrative like the BBC do). BBC News is politically correct mash by wimps for wimps.

        Al Jazeera isn'

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by MimeticLie (1866406)
      You and I came to the same conclusion "Fox tries to pretend its (sic) unbiased", but we clearly have radically different opinions whether that's a good thing. If a TV channel is going to be producing a heavily biased package, I'd prefer that it acknowledges that the content is opinion. Airing talking points as news devalues the work of actual news organizations by casting doubt over all of journalism.
  • Journalism sucks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MaWeiTao (908546) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @10:05AM (#43256473)

    There are a number of problems at the heart of what's wrong with journalism.

    The first is celebrity culture, so there's a persistent undercurrent of self-aggrandizement. They'll latch on to big stories as a way to make a name for themselves, creating a natural inclination to sensationalize. In the mean time they're not really doing anything beyond talking to a camera. The closest thing they do to journalism is interviews. And when that happens if they like the interviewee it's a soft-ball puff piece, when they don't it's nothing but loaded messages to convey a particular message.

    The second, bigger problem is that journalists don't see it as their job to inform, they think it's their duty to educate. The distinction is that in the former journalists are merely describing what happened, with the latter they're lulled into pushing agendas. This guarantees bias. This is when journalists approach a story with a hypothesis, find it disproved in research, but because it violates their worldview they get selective with facts and twist them to suit their viewpoint.

    Bloggers are amongst the worst. When the topics are apolitical too many of them turn into hangers-on. It's celebrity by association, that they're somehow a crucial component to someone else's success and popularity. When the topics are political, then it's the worst kind of blogger circle-jerk. Some blogger somewhere posts some heavily slanted story which everyone else then reposts as fact adding their own pointless commentary.

    The most obnoxious thing here is that simply looking at both sides doesn't translate into balance. Often times you're just getting extremist views with no substantive facts.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      The most obnoxious thing here is that simply looking at both sides doesn't translate into balance. Often times you're just getting extremist views with no substantive facts.

      Cigarettes kill everyone who smokes them.
      Cigarettes are healthy and good for your lungs.

      Two extremist views, yet one is far less balanced or substantive (or correct) than the other.

  • by KirklesWorth (952367) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @11:10AM (#43256899)
    Elephant in the room time: MSNBC is the liberal propaganda arm of the democratic party. MSNBC tries to ignore stories that have any whiff of putting their glorious democrats in a bad light while simultaneously manufacturing outrage over conservatives in the hopes of distracting the public from seing the democrats as they really are.

    So spare us the "Fox News is worse" garbage. While the Fox News slant is well known and acknowledged, every other news organization is left-of-center and denies it has any bias whatsoever. If MSNBC can't be relied upon to report all stories, even those that are negative to democrats, then it is a propaganda firm, not a news oranization.

    Does MSNBC's 85% opinion consist of both liberal and conservative views? Of course not! The 85% is at least 85% liberal opinion. Does Fox news 55% opinion consist of both liberal and conservative views? Yes it does. Some of the liberals, independents, or non-conservatives that are now, or have been, on Fox are: Bob Beckel, Alan Colmes, Susan Estrich, Mara Liasson, Santita Jackson, Kirsten Powers, Geraldo Rivera, Simon Rosenberg, Bill Schulz, Shepard Smith, Juan Williams. Conservatives on MSNBC? Tucker Carlson, Michael Savage, Joe Scarborough (arguably fiscally conservative, socially liberal RINO). Sounds like MSNBC's reporting is severely un-fair and un-balanced.
    • Both stations are disgraces. Fox more so; although, I've not had cable in many years I highly doubt that MSNBC is going beyond being the ratings whore it always was. Fox is run by a famously successful professional propagandist, ratings are not it's sole mission... well, it might actually be - since propaganda and ratings are close enough to run parallel. I think fox would run at a loss if it could accomplish it's true mission; but since its mission includes suckering as many as possible their ratings coi

  • by reboot246 (623534) on Saturday March 23, 2013 @11:57AM (#43257235) Homepage
    "All the news that's fit to tint."

    What surprises me is that ANY of their content is considered "reporting". They don't even try to do news.
  • The fact that MSNBC has more opinion shows than FoxNews is not the point. MSNBC doesn't format their programming so their opinion shows appear to be news shows. On the other hand, it is often very difficult to tell if one is watching a news program or a opinion show.

    Put differently, nobody mistakes the content of the Today show for the Nightly News on NBC. Nor do people mistake Rachel Madow or the Ed Show on MSNBC for the nightly news. The said cannot be said for much of the programming on FoxNews that in

  • In result, news has turned into circus style entertainment. Tabloids, "people news"?

    Also people are slowly start to accept selective reality offered by different media channels. Fox News gives reasoning behind Tea Party/Republican struggle, MSNBC gives more of left angle (although everyone saying they both equal in BS levels need reality check - Fox News quite frequently invents facts form their opinions, I have rarely seen it in left leaning media and they also admit mistakes). In nutshell, it is easier to

"You don't go out and kick a mad dog. If you have a mad dog with rabies, you take a gun and shoot him." -- Pat Robertson, TV Evangelist, about Muammar Kadhafy

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