Casting Stones

In an article that will appear in the Oct. 19, 2008 edition of the New York Times Magazine, reporter Matt Bai quotes Barack Obama making a startling assertion: “I am convinced that if there were no FOX News, I might be two or three points higher in the poll.” The senator went on to say that FOX News portrays him as “the latte-sipping, New York Times-reading, Volvo-driving, no-gun-owning, effete, politically correct, arrogant liberal.”
As a matter of fact, several objective studies have found that FOX News has had the more balanced coverage of the presidential campaign, compared to the other major networks. When Sen. Clinton’s staff discovered this (most of them had not been watching FOX News), they and Sen. Clinton began doing interviews.
I do think Sen. Obama is right that he would be doing better in the polls if FOX News didn’t exist. However, I disagree with his explanation as to why that is so. The real reason Sen. Obama is right is because FOX News is the only national network that isn’t treating Sen. Obama with all the objectivity of a homecoming queen with a heavy crush on the tall, handsome football star.
FOX is just dealing with the senator objectively, and the network’s coverage of him is far from the caricature and stereotype enunciated by Sen. Obama.
Furthermore, it is not just the news media that fawns over Obama in an embarrassing way (Sen. Clinton noticed this as well when she was Sen. Obama’s opponent in the primaries). The entertainment industry is supporting Sen. Obama virtually en masse (Republicans, in general, and conservatives, in particular, often feel the urge to enter the witness protection program in Hollywood).
This one-sided treatment even extends to Jay Leno and David Letterman. As reports, “the Kings of Late Night are not equal-opportunity destroyers this year when it comes to telling jokes about the candidates for president and vice president–they’re hammering Republicans a stunning seven times more often than they skewer Democrats.” (“Late-Night Comics Skewer Republicans 7 to 1, study finds,” by Jennifer Lawinski,, Oct. 16, 2008).
Sen. Obama is right that FOX News is keeping his poll numbers from being even higher. The real reason is not FOX News’ bias, but the rest of the media’s bias against the senator’s opponents in both the primary and general elections.

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