Yesterday, Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters noted that an organization known as Public Policy Polling (PPP) reported results of a survey it did showing that "Americans do not trust the major tv news operations in the country- except for Fox News."
The survey-related quote comes from a post at PPP's blog. Tom Jensen, its author, pecked in quite a presumptuous final paragraph there (italics are Jensen's):
These numbers suggest quite a shift in what Americans want from their news. A generation ago Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in the country because of his neutrality. Now people trust Fox the most precisely because of its lack of neutrality. It says a lot about where journalism is headed.Huh? Surely this must be simply a rogue PPP staffer's uninformed rant. Uh, no. At Politico's coverage of the poll, reporter Andy Barr quoted PPP's President making this putrid pronouncement about what the poll results putatively personify:
“A generation ago you would have expected Americans to place their trust in the most neutral and unbiased conveyors of news,” said PPP President Dean Debnam in his analysis of the poll. “But the media landscape has really changed, and now they’re turning more toward the outlets that tell them what they want to hear.”
Debnam's derogatory declaration has no evidential basis, at least in his own poll (PDF here). There is no record in the crosstabs of any attempt to ask viewers why they watch and trust Fox. Debnam's and Jensen's presumptions about Fox's lack of neutrality and the reasons why viewers tune in are apparently all in their heads.
Just for the heck of it, let's test the "fairness and balance" of other establishment media outlets concerning an item I blogged about on Monday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), namely the news reported by Fox's James Rosen that a prominent Obama donor's firm had received a $25 million no-bid contract for work that plenty of other firms were capable of bidding on.
A Google News search on Checchi, the firm's name, for January 25-27 (sorted by date with duplicates included) came back with 24 results. Nine of them concerned matters unrelated to Rosen's story. The remaining 15 are from the Torrington (CT) Register Citizen, PoliticalLore.com, Red State, Investor's Business Daily, MainStreetMonroe.com (an Ohio forum), Fox News (Rosen's actual story), Lone Star Times, ShortNews.com, yours truly's NewsBusters post, two item (here and here) at National Review, Before It's News, Gather.com, Wizbang, and the Daily Caller. There's not a TV network news story in the bunch.
This leads to a couple of questions for Mr. Jensen and Mr. Debnam:
- Regardless of which party is involved, do you think the average American would care about a story about a no-bid contract that represents a clear break with a president's core campaign promise? If you do (and if you don't, you're in the propaganda business, not the news business), please note that Fox in this case is the one original source for it.
- Viewers have learned that Fox will cover stories such as these, while the others won't, while also still dealing with the stories CNN and the Big Three networks et al do report. If viewers are choosing Fox for this reason, what in the world does it have to do with telling people what they want to hear?