Dennis Campbell
September 8, 2004
Fox, cable networks continue to bedevil broadcasters
By Dennis Campbell

Seventeen years ago, I entered the world of cable television advertising, then in its infancy. Just trying to get a local businessperson to listen was a chore. Advertising agencies were loath to spend much more than a nanosecond with a salesperson.

There was a reason for that cable had a miniscule audience share. TNT had just begun, Lifetime was not yet an idea and people had difficulty distinguishing between The Discovery Channel and the Discover Card.

And there was no FOX News.

So it was a pleasant surprise to see that FOX not only scored well during the Republican National Convention, but was No. 1 in audience share yes, the network so scorned by liberals and the broadcast networks whipped them all. In fact, FOX had more than twice the ratings of the Tiffany Network, CBS.

Do you suppose people are getting tired of the blather of Rather? It seems that the FOX lineup is more adroit, more insightful, more interesting and for the most part decidedly more attractive than those of the broadcasters.

Of course, the snivel from the left is that FOX is a rightwing propaganda machine appealing only to the meat-eaters of the Republican Party. What balderdash. Liberals have become so accustomed to an unrelentingly leftwing tilt among the broadcasters that anything more than a patronizing tidbit of a conservative viewpoint now and then is incomprehensible to them.

But look at some of the commentators FOX regularly presents: Susan Estrich, former campaign manager for leftwing presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, still as liberal as ever; leftwing apologist Eleanor Clift, who always looks as though she begins each day sucking a peck of lemons; Geraldo Rivera, Alan Colmes, Geraldine Ferraro, Jane Hall, Morton Kondracke, Mara Liasson, Juan Williams all left-of-center, left or way left.

You will never find ABC, NBC or CBS providing that kind of conservative balance to their constant liberal advocacy. But, you say, the liberalism of the major networks is just a myth dreamed up by the right.

Really?

Former CBS correspondent Bernard Goldberg, author of Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News, said in a WorldNetDaily interview:

"What gets me is you know there is a liberal bias, I know there is a liberal bias, the people reading this, most of them know there is a liberal bias. It's not as if I exposed the fact that there is a liberal bias. What's so odd is that the only people who don't think there's a liberal bias are the media elites, who, when they go on Larry King or someplace and they are asked, 'Is there a liberal bias?' say, 'No!' It's like the flat-earth society.

"I have no problem when they identify conservatives as conservatives. I think that's good. But they never identify those [other] guys as liberals...."

John Stossel, the darling of the left when bashing corporations as a television consumer affairs reporter, became a pariah when his views turned to the right. He says:

"Leftist thinking is just the culture that I live in and the culture the reporters who populate the mainstream media live in. Everybody just agrees: more safety regulation, gun control, higher taxes....

"Anyone who disagrees is seen as not just wrong but selfish and cruel. If I try to discuss this with my peers, I get blank stares. The press is so filled with hatred for capitalism that someone who advocates for free markets rather than government control is a conservative and a problem."

There is validity to the notion that FOX will not maintain its lead in news ratings now that the convention is over. Cable networks, with their round-the-clock coverage, always benefit during special events, disasters and wars.

However, there is a reason cable has gone from the miniscule audience share of 17 years ago to a 43% share against the seven broadcast networks today. Perhaps it is better programming where on network TV do you find programs the quality of those on The Discovery Channel, A&E, ESPN?

As the broadcasters hemorrhage viewers they increasingly lower their standards and offer up fare that seems to have no bottom when it comes to degradation. Viewers are sick of it and are turning elsewhere.

And, as Bernard Goldberg says, the major news networks are so blinded to their own liberal bias they are incapable of offering anything remotely resembling fair and balanced. And in our modern world of media choice, viewers are choosing.

More and more, FOX news is their choice.

© Dennis Campbell

 

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