Love for Fox News and ‘The O’Reilly Factor’

Matthew White

I had no idea what I wanted to pursue in life until I turned on the television one day and found something worthy of a college major.

It was during my sophomore year of high school, and I was casually flipping through stations when I found one that changed my life: the Fox News Channel. The love affair was gradual at first, but I began to watch more and more often. Pretty soon, I knew the hosts by name and face, and tuned in at regular times to watch them. By the time I was a senior in high school, I was a full-fledged Fox News junky.

Fox News was innovative; its newscasters were cool. Flashing graphics and breaking news alerts captured my attention like I never thought the news could.

Humorous, fast-paced hosts like Shepard Smith provided quick wit and great infotainment, while hard-hitting opinion men like Bill O’Reilly made me learn to enjoy discussing nationally significant issues. Fox News was different – and better – than anyone else providing the news.

The Fox News Channel has a special place in my heart, and if cable network news rating are to be believed, then most Americans are with me. According to the Nielsen media research firm, Fox News has 10 of the top 12 cable news shows, including “The O’Reilly Factor”, “Hannity and Colmes”, “Fox Report with Shepard Smith,” “Special Report with Brit Hume” and “On the Record with Gretta Van Sustern” as the five most watched shows. Also, according to Nielsen, from Feb. 1 through Jan. 6, Fox News had the top five most watched business-news shows. Fox News could probably be re-named “the ratings buster,” except it would make the fine folks at CNN and MSNBC feel bad.

But despite its popularity with the American people, the Fox News Channel is regularly criticized for having a right-wing, pro-Republican bias. Web sites such as and regularly take statements out of context and launch venomous personal attacks against the network and its hosts.

One liberal activist named Robert Greenwald even made a propaganda piece called “Outfoxed” with the intent of hurting the network’s credibility. What isn’t mentioned in Geenwald’s “movie” is the bias of the contributors. Greenwald’s own bias is also never mentioned. Many of the contributors are former Fox News employees who left under bad circumstances, and have an ax to grind. Furthermore, Greenwald admits on his personal Web site that he is a political activist. Employees who were fired will rarely have something to go say about their former boss. And when political activists are mad at a news agency, it’s a sign the news agency is doing something right – not wrong.

Those who criticize FNC don’t have much of a leg to stand on because prominent commentators on the channel, such as O’Reilly, admit it has a traditional – not conservative – bias. Many people confuse the slogan “Fair and Balanced,” which refers to the hard news reporting, with the traditional editorial perspective. Instead of spending energy criticizing a network that’s upfront with its editorial bias, Fox News critics would be better off taking a look at CNN, MSNBC, and the New York Times.

Matt White is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].