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Fox News and the Iraq War

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The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart started his piece on the South Carolina GOP presidential debate by noting that it was co-sponsored by “Fox News and the Republican Party.” “Now wait a minute,” he said, “isn’t that the same thing?”

Indeed, it is. Fox News is a specific flavor of Republican thought – that of Roger Ailes. It is axiomatic in its support of the president, and it tailors the news to help him at every turn. So Fox watchers have noticed that in the world of Fox News, the U.S. attorneys scandal – the most severe scandal to hit the Justice Department in its entire history – hardly even exists, accounting for roughly 2% of coverage (about a quarter the time allocated by MSNBC, for instance). But still more telling is Fox’s Iraq War coverage. During the first two years of the war, Fox provided saturation coverage of the war – through it was mostly from talking heads on the ground in New York, as opposed to reporters in the field, and most of it was opinion journalism rather than reporting.

Today, with nearly 70% of the U.S. public viewing the Iraq War as a mistake, the Fox reaction is to play down its coverage. In the first three months of 2007, Fox News allocated 15% of its coverage to Iraq War developments – which is about half the allocation of MSNBC. Moreover, the grimmer the situation becomes, the less time Fox allocates to it. Fox News is sticking to a fixed set of principles. George Orwell’s principles.

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