Fair and balanced? We report, you decide! Readers respond to Andrew O'Hehir's "Happy Talk From Hell."

Published July 20, 2004 8:00PM (EDT)

[Read the story.]

It's great that we now have an in-depth documentary that exposes the unfair and unbalanced distortions of Fox News.

But the sad and scary thing is that Fox News Channel gets ratings. Are people being fooled into watching it? It depresses me to say I think not; I believe there are a large number of viewers who enjoy this brand of attack "journalism."

And then, of course, you have the adage that imitation is the sincerest form of television. So CNN, MSNBC and, to a lesser extent, the network news programs are all moving toward their own versions of the Fox formula.

As radio talk shows learned some time ago, right-wing rants sell -- and they please big-money advertisers and corporate managers, too. A win-win proposition, and the only thing that gets hurt ... is our form of government.

-- Bruce Bailey

Excellent article, but there is a hidden advantage that Fox brings to the table and that your reviewer fails to mention.

While the comparison of Fox's agenda with the open political affiliation of British newspapers is accurate, it is not in accord with existing habits and expectations of the U.S. public.

Americans are accustomed to having their television networks provide both sides of every issue, at least in some token fashion. This approach was mandated by the "Fairness Doctrine," which the FCC quietly abandoned during the Reagan administration.

Instead Fox, with its "Fair and balanced" and "We report, you decide" slogans, is coasting on the prior conventions of the U.S. media, and in this way is explicitly deceiving its viewers, many of whom surely believe that Fox really is presenting both sides of the story.

This creates a much richer, more trusting propaganda environment in which the network can operate, albeit temporarily. Presumably it will only take a few more years for the public to understand the new rules of the game. Meanwhile, Fox plays on a very tilted field indeed.

-- Ralph Dratman

Are you kidding? Andrew O'Hehir writes that "Salon presents a plurality of views" and (he hopes) "doesn't march in lockstep with anyone."

This plurality of views involves liberalism encompassed only by the Democratic Party, however -- woe to any third-party political candidate who dares run while, in the words of Howard Dean, "the house is on fire."

Salon's recent coverage of the Dean/Nader debate was more than one-sided; it was a crucifixion of the idea of even having a political system outside that of our two major parties. It's this kind of strong rhetoric that supports lesser-evilism politics and will propel some right-winger even worse than Bush onto some national stage in 2008 or beyond.

I hope that, if Kerry is elected, Salon will keep careful watch over his policies and their effects and not blindly endorse the right-creeping mores of today's Democratic Party.

-- Brian Sammons

Isn't your article about Fox News a little like the pot calling the kettle black? I don't doubt that Fox News takes a right-wing position, but I couldn't help but notice that I had to watch a video telling me to vote for only Democrats before I was able to enter the venerable Salon Premium Web site. Give me a break. You guys are equally guilty -- if not more so -- of biased news coverage as is Fox.

-- Tom Moreland

By Salon Staff

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