We don't report so you won't decide

How Fox News covered -- or didn't -- the downfall of a Republican member of Congress.

Published November 29, 2005 4:33PM (EST)

Sometimes the right-wing bias from Fox News is overt, as when Bill O'Reilly suggests that the federal government should abandon San Francisco to a terrorist attack or launches an "investigation" into which retailers choose not to use the word "Christmas" in their sale circulars. Just as often, the bias comes in more subtle ways. Well, a little more subtle, anyway.

We happened to catch a Fox News radio report yesterday on Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham. The report dutifully noted that Cunningham was a longtime member of Congress, that he had announced that he was resigning immediately, and that he had admitted to accepting at least $2.4 million in bribes. What the report didn't mention? Cunningham's party affiliation. What are the odds that Fox would have failed to mention that aspect of the story if Cunningham were, say, a Democrat?

A story on the Fox Web site mentions that Cunningham is a Republican, but that fact is dumped three paragraphs under a headline that refers to Cunningham's troubles as a "bribery flap." As for Fox's TV coverage of the Cunningham guilty plea and resignation? Media Matters went to the trouble of watching and tells us that Fox reported on Cunningham's guilty plea and resignation just once in the first four hours after the story broke yesterday. CNN, by comparison, had the story five times during the same period of time.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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