Fox News Gets Last Laugh With Critics

Controversy’s been good for Fox News Channel. On July 8, media group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting claimed that in the last six months of 2003, 57% of the guests on Special Report With Brit Hume were conservatives.

Then, liberal-leaning advocacy groups MoveOn.Org and the Center for American Progress backed the documentary Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism. And last Monday, MoveOn.Org and Common Cause complained to the Federal Trade Commission that Fox News’s tagline, “fair and balanced,” violates the Federal Trade Commission’s deceptive-ad guidelines, a claim FTC commissioner Timothy Muris dismissed July 20.

The impact? From July 8 through July 20, Fox News scored a 14% rise to an 0.8 average total-day rating, adding 10% to the viewing base (790,000). It gained 6% among adults 18 to 49 (207,000) and 7% among adults 25 to 54 (262,000). Cable News Network was flat or up slightly; MSNBC was even or down.

“We’re up in households, viewers and all demographics,” Fox News vice president of production and programming Bill Shine said. “People obviously trust us and our journalism.”

“We’d like to thank Robert Greenwald,” he added. Greenwald directed Outfoxed, a film that espouses that the network’s coverage leans to the right.