Fair and balanced, at least 27 percent of the time!

A new study crowns Fox News Channel the king of biased reporting.

By Mark Follman
Published March 14, 2005 7:16PM (EST)

The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reports on a new study of TV news. You decide.

"In covering the Iraq war last year, 73 percent of the stories on Fox News included the opinions of the anchors and journalists reporting them, a new study says. By contrast, 29 percent of the war reports on MSNBC and 2 percent of those on CNN included the journalists' own views. These findings -- the figures were similar for coverage of other stories -- 'seem to challenge' Fox's slogan of 'we report, you decide,' says the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

"In a 617-page report, the group also found that 'Fox is more deeply sourced than its rivals,' while CNN is 'the least transparent about its sources of the three cable channels, but more likely to present multiple points of view.' The project defines opinion as views that are not attributed to others."

Perhaps not a real shocker, but it turns out that Bill O'Reilly, host of the "no-spin zone," is a bona fide leader in dialing in the spin: "As for the most popular prime-time shows, nearly every story -- 97 percent -- contained opinion on Fox's 'O'Reilly Factor'; 24 percent on MSNBC's 'Hardball with Chris Matthews'; and 0.9 percent on CNN's 'Larry King Live.'"

Indeed, the PEJ report would seem to confirm suspicions that Fox News, above all others, is quite sympathetic in general to the Bush White House's faith-based policies. As Kurtz also notes from the study: "Last March, Fox reporter Todd Connor said that 'Iraq has a new interim constitution and is well on its way to democracy.'

"'Let's pray it works out,' said anchor David Asman."

And if TV viewers end up being too busy at any given moment to get their fix of "news" from the cable nets, they need not worry: 70 percent of the time they'll have missed nothing at all.

"Despite its 24 hours of available air time, cable isn't exactly bursting with new news. Seven in 10 reports involve recycling of the same subject matter, with only 10 percent adding meaningful updates. 'The time required to continuously be on the air seems to take a heavy toll on the nature of the journalism presented,' the report says."

Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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