WhatBOX?: "Fair and Balanced" in Cable News

"Every other network has given all their shows to liberals," says Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes in a Newsweek interview published this week. "We are the balance."

As in, "fair and balanced?" The slogan is both used as a pillar of truth from the net's reporters (and fans) and ridiculed as nauseating irony from critics (and everyone else).

It's no surprise, or covert conspiracy, that the news coming from Fox is largely conservative. Just as its cable news counterpart MSNBC is largely identified as a more leftist, progressive network.

But as the country enters into yet another chokingly critical election cycle, and presidential and congressional public approval at near all-time lows, who would have thought that Fox would be backing off? At Ailes' request, no less?

According to the article, that's exactly what's happening. The piece claims Ailes butted heads with Sarah Palin (can you blame him?) and told Glenn Beck to ease off the more nonsensical Tea Party schlock. As a result, the News head has put the runaway ratings freight train that is Fox News on what he calls a "course correction."

The network, Ailes says, is moving more toward the mainstream…

Regardless of how you interpret his message, there's one person who ain't buying it: Keith Olbermann. The former MSNBC news host turned Current TV wildcard says Newsweek's piece quoting Ailes that he's moving Fox to the middle is "the essence of journalistic dishonesty that enabled Fox News to get where it is." Check out Olbermann's full reaction below.

And as far as cable news irony is concerned, is it any wonder why Fox has been dominating the ratings game for the past few years? Just how badly has MSNBC been damaged by the loss of Olbermann? The NYTimes asked that very question this week, and the answer isn't pretty. The ratings from September show that CNN, "long relegated to third place," is slowly inching back up in popularity while MSNBC continues its ratings slide.

According to the Times, CNN and MSNBC are just a few thousand viewers apart from an average 260K nightly news viewers… neither even close to Fox News' 525K. However, MSNBC had 83K more viewers last year when Olbermann was a fixture on the network.

MSNBC President Phil Griffin says the network isn't feeling the impact of Olbermann's departure, and Ailes says Fox News is moving to the middle.

Neither sound so fair and balanced to me...

WhatBOX? is a weekly column featured in The Morning BRIDGE newsletter for executives, programmers and business leaders across the multiplatform industries. WhatBOX? is an article about compelling content... and how today's programming is being delivered via the silver screen, the flat-screen, the computer screen and the mobile screen. -matthew colella is the creative director at blue13creative and a media consultant for The Morning BRIDGE parent company MediaBiz.

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