When news broke that President Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his aide Rick Gates had been indicted for "conspiracy against the United States," Fox News ignored the story, instead choosing to talk about the new cheeseburger emoji. 🍔
But defenders of Fox News argue the mainstream media is far too liberal, and the network provides a necessary counterpoint.
The characterization of mainstream media newsrooms as left-leaning hives indeed has documentary backing. Some of the research is narrow and entertaining: In 1990, for example, Washington City Paper — then under the leadership of current Politico media critic Jack Shafer — found that Tony Kornheiser, then a sports columnist for The Washington Post, was the only registered Republican among a sampling of 49 top editors, reporters and columnists at the newspaper.
Paul Bedard argues in the Washington Examiner that the mainstream media is extremely biased in its anti-Trump sentiment, and doesn't represent the thinking of the majority of Americans.
"How can the media be considered 'mainstream' when it doesn't represent a majority of the American people?" [Texas Rep. Lamar Smith] asked. "It's more accurate to use the term 'liberal,'" he said.
In an interview, he cited the media's ills: 91 percent of Trump campaign coverage was negative, 96 percent of media campaign contributions went to Democrat Hillary Clinton, and 55 percent of the public is weary of the anti-Trump tone in coverage.
But critics say it is not a matter of perspective or viewpoint: Fox News spreads lies and manipulates its audience, and has made a huge segment of the American public vulnerable to misleading propaganda. Studies show people who watch no news at all are better informed on the facts than Fox News viewers.
The studies all take a similar form: These are public opinion surveys that ask citizens about their beliefs on factual but contested issues, and also about their media habits. Inevitably, some significant percentage of citizens are found to be misinformed about the facts, and in a politicized way—but not only that. The surveys also find that those who watch Fox are more likely to be misinformed, their views of reality skewed in a right-wing direction. In some cases, the studies even show that watching more Fox makes the misinformation problem worse.