The Washington Post

O’Reilly, Koppel disagree on Fox, MSNBC

Second in a flash series.

There’s an equivalence that Bill O’Reilly won’t abide on his Fox News program. It’s the contention that somehow Fox News and MSNBC are twin networks sitting on opposite ideological roosts. When Ted Koppel suggested as much on last night’s episode of the “O’Reilly Factor,” the following exchange took place:

O’Reilly: But there’s a big difference between Fox News and MSNBC. You know what that difference is?

Koppel: Tell me.

O’Reilly: No, but do you know what it is?

Koppel: I’m asking you. What do you think it is?

O’Reilly: So you concede you don’t know what it is.

Koppel: I don’t know what it is, no.

O’Reilly: We actually do hard news here from 9 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon. Eight hours of hard news. MSNBC doesn’t do one hour of hard news. It’s all, let’s push the liberal Democratic agenda from sign-on to sign-off. So this is a news agency here...

Koppel: I don’t think anyone is going to be confused as to the ideological belief of most of the people who appear on Fox.

The whole daytime-news tack didn’t impress Koppel, who noted the millions of viewers who catch the strong opinion programming on Fox News during the prime-time hours. “How many people are watching the Fox network at 10 o’clock in the morning or 2 o’clock in the afternoon or 3 o’clock in the afternoon?” Koppel asked O’Reilly. When the latter responded that he didn’t know, Koppel quipped: “You should. You work there.”

Well, I am watching at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. And my extensive daytime viewing bears witness to what Koppel says about the lack of confusion among viewers about to what side the Fox tilt swings. Though O’Reilly is correct that Fox News during its daytime programming (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) produces hard news, that hard news is reliably quite hard on the Obama administration and lefty causes and less hard on conservative players in American politics.

Though Fox in these hours commonly has guest analysts from both sides of the political fight, the story selection, the tone of coverage, the seizing on any bad news on the economy or unemployment — they all move in one political direction. An all-time favorite example: Back in July, Megyn Kelly’s “America Live” program, which runs from 1 to 3 p.m., hosted a discussion on immigration policy, introduced by a 57-second rant by Rush Limbaugh. For a refresher on how daytime Fox unfurls, have a look:

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.


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