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The Contender
Con (against)
26 Points

Fox News's detrimental impact on America

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/25/2012 Category: News
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,947 times Debate No: 28630
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (14)
Votes (7)




I've now challenged RoyLatham to the debate. I wanted to challenge him to this resolution a couple weeks ago, but my finals schedule prevented me from doing such. We've agreed to all the specifics of the debate.

: Fox News has had a negative impact on the American electorate, and the way news is intended to be reported.


Fox News: Fox News Channel (FNC), also known as Fox News, is a cable news channel owned by the Fox Entertainment Group, a subsidiary of News Corporation [1]

Negative: Characterized by the absence of distinguishing or marked qualities or features; lacking positive attributes (opposed to positive). [2]

Electorate: The body of persons entitled to vote in an election. [3]

News: A report of a recent event; intelligence; information. [4]


1. The first round is for acceptance.

2. A forfeit or concession is not allowed.

3. No semantics, trolling, or lawyering.

In the case of either participant breaking any of these rules, all seven points should be given to the other person.

Debate Structure:

Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Presenting all arguments (no rebuttals by con)
Round 3: Refutation of opponent's arguments
Round 4: Defending your original arguments and conclusion (no new arguments)

This debate will encompass aspects of Fox News that make the network harmful to the electorate being informed/educated, and harmful to the way news should be reported (fair, neutral, non-partisan, etc.). I will be affirming the resolution by demonstrating several tendencies of Fox News, including

  • Blatant bias in favor of conservative ideology, of which includes the Republican Party of the U.S.
  • Fox News’s harmful effect on electorate knowledge
  • Fox News’s manipulation of several communication methods (e.g. pictures, videos)
  • Other Fox News negative tendencies that dont’t include the above points.





"Detrimental" means "makes worse." I assume that means that America would be better off without Fox News. If it is supposed to mean something else, then please clarify.

I'm looking forward to an interesting debate.
Debate Round No. 1


Access to information is essential to the health of democracy for at least two reasons. First, it ensures that citizens make responsible, informed choices rather than acting out of ignorance or misinformation. [1]


The assertion that Fox News is biased in favor of conservative ideology is surprising to few. Fox News is notorious for promoting conservative talking points, discouraging liberal positions/candidates, and helping Republican candidates get elected to public office. However, how much of an influence does Fox News really have on the American political system, and how does that contribute to the resolution?

Many say Fox News actively participates in helping the Republican Party obtain political seats. Larry King, when speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times, said “They’re a Republican brand. They’re an extension of the Republican Party” [2]. Tom Ricks, blogger for Foreign Policy, said in an interview, ironically, with Fox News “I think that the emphasis on Benghazi has been extremely political, partly because Fox was operating as a wing of the Republican Party” [3]. Conservative writer Jonah Goldberg admits “Look, I think liberals have reasonable gripes with Fox News. It does lean to the right, primarily in its opinion programming but also in its story selection and elsewhere. [4]” A UC Berkeley study found that “Estimates imply that Fox News convinced 3 to 8 percent of its viewers to vote Republican [5]” Using this knowledge, we can certainly come to a conclusion that Fox News is biased in favor of the Republican Party.

However, despite all this testimony and statistical analysis, this isn’t even the greatest example of Fox News bias. In spring of 2011, a spokesperson for Fox News (Kathleen McFarland) passed on a message to General David Petraeus, from Roger Ailes. She first asked “Is there anything Fox is doing, right or wrong, that you want us to do differently?” She then goes on to say “He says that if you’re offered [JCS] chairman, take it. If you’re offered anything else, don’t take it; resign in six months and run for president.” She would then go on to say Roger Ailes would run the campaign, and Rupert Murdoch, owner of News Corp/Fox News, would bankroll the campaign [6]. This is damaging for two reasons:

  • Fox News’s willingness to slant the news in his favor clearly goes against the role of media to provide a non-partisan and objective view of the news.
  • Having Fox News fund a Republican candidate’s campaign would have damaging effects on their ‘fair’ coverage of other politicians.

This section fulfills the resolution by demonstrating Fox News’s lack of objective coverage towards both parties, and Fox News’s blatant goal of providing biased and skewed information, some of which includes providing benefits to Republican candidates, to its viewing population. Both these points go against the objective, fair, and non-partisan goal of the media.

Misinformation and Misrepresentation

Not only is Fox guilty of giving biased information, most of their information isn’t even true, and it can be measured in statistics. According to research done by PIPA about misconceptions about the Iraq War driven by media, “Fox was the news source whose viewers had the most misperceptions.” However, a more telling statistic shows that “for Republican Fox viewers, however the average rate of misperception was 54% while for Republicans who get their news from PBS/NPR the average rate of misperception is 32%.” The information derived from the report shows Fox News is the direct source and cause of the misinformation. [7]

A report done by the World Public Opinion organization concluded that

“These effects* increased incrementally with increasing levels of exposure^ and all were statistically significant. The effect was also not simply a function of partisan bias, as people who voted Democratic and watched Fox News were also more likely to have such misinformation than those who did not watch it--though by a lesser margin than those who voted Republican.” [8]

* represents misinformation

^ represents exposure to Fox News

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll assessed familiarities with the Affordable Care Act and the provisions within it, and broke down the results into different demographics. One of those included the respondents’ primary source of information intake. The study concluded [9]

There were also differences by where people get their information, with higher shares of those who report CNN (35 percent) or MSNBC (39 percent) as their primary news source getting 7 or more right, compared to those that report mainly watching Fox News (25 percent).

An Ohio State University research project found that Fox News promoted misinformation during the Ground Zero Mosque controversy. The major findings of the report concluded [10]

  • People who use Fox News, either online or on television, are more aware of false rumors

about the Islamic community center and mosque than those who do not

  • People who use Fox News believe more of the rumors we asked about and they believe them

more strongly than those who do not.

  • People who use CNN and NPR believe fewer false rumors

A Fairleigh Dickinson University poll studied how certain news sources influenced knowledge of current global events. Most of the sources did average or above average; However, one source failed to successfully inform their audience. [11]

People who watch Fox News are 18-points less likely to know that Egyptians overthrew their government than those who watch no news at all (after controlling for other news sources, partisanship, education and other demographic factors). Fox News watchers are also 6-points less likely to know that Syrians have not yet overthrown their government than those who watch no news.

Dan Cassino, a political science professor and an analysis for the poll, concluded [11]

“The results show us that there is something about watching Fox News that leads people to do worse on these questions than those who don’t watch any news at all."

This survey, however, only accounted for the population of New Jersey. Fairleigh then conducted a follow up survey that encompassed the entire nation. The findings were exactly the same as the one they previously confirmed in New Jersey. [12]

“Someone who watched only Fox News would be expected to answer just 1.04 domestic questions correctly — a figure which is significantly worse than if they had reported watching no media at all.”

This section, and the supporting evidence found within, affirms the resolution by presenting multiple aspects of dishonesty. It finds that Fox News is not upholding its duty as a news organization to present unbiased and correct information. It’s also demonstrating Fox News’s harmful effect on the U.S.’s democratic system, by contributing to the electorate’s lack of correct information about domestic and global activity.

Due to a lack of characters left, I will now turn the debate over to Roy.




Pro set the agenda for the debate so that this round excludes Con rebuttals. I'll present that in the next round.

1. Fox serves its audience

Fox News [Fox or FNC] is by far the largest cable news channel. “Fox News Channel will end 2012 as the number one cable news channel for 11 straight years, and the number three ad-supported channel in all of cable TV in prime time. FNC will be up slightly from 2011 in just about every time period and demo. The network will end up with the top 11 cable news shows in total viewers, and the top seven in the adults 25-54 demo.” [1.]They have roughly as many viewers as all the other cable news channels combined.

Fox News is a mix of hard news on politics and international affairs, news of crime and natural disasters, news commentary, weather forecasts, business stories, human interest stories, celebrity news, health stories, news trivia, sports headlines, and some pure entertainment. People like to watch the mix. News commentary fills prime time after the straight news on weekday evenings, and because the commentary is mostly right-wing, and that makes it the subject of left-wing attention. The commentary is not strictly about hard news stories, there are discussions on the spectrum of topics.

So, is Fox attracting viewers a benefit to society? It is a benefit because by watching the Fox News mixture or hard and soft news, people learn many things. They are better off watching Fox News than Honey Boo Boo or Jersey Shore or any of the other shows on cable that are as free from intellectual content as producers can accomplish. The audience for cable news is not fixed, like any other genre on television it competes with what's available.

2. Fox News serves those most interested in the news. Fox serves those with only modest interest in the news, but it also serves the other end of the interest spectrum. Which media outlets are most preferred by the most informed segment of the population?

A Pew Poll shows that viewers of Stewart/Colbert, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, NPR listeners, and Rush Limbaugh were all among the best informed people in the country. All had between 50% and 54% of highly informed listeners, the top category in the poll. At the bottom were Local TV News, Fox News Channel, and, at the very bottom, network morning shows. [2. ]

No matter what your ideological predilection, you are unlikely to believe Stewert, O'Reilly, NPR, and Limbaugh are equally pure gold in terms of impartial presentation of facts and logic. What it means is that they are serving up red meat (or hot tofu, if you prefer) to well-informed people. Despite O'Reilly being at the top of informed viewers, FNC as whole is only a step above the network morning shows in having a well-informed audience. That means that Fox uses a mix of material to attract people with marginal interest in news, exactly as the network morning shows do. I believe network morning shows are providing a benefit in the same way as Fox; they expose people to hard news by mixing it with softer stories.

People who are well-informed often have strong views about issues. That's a good thing because public debate is driven by strong advocates. Most of the electorate benefits by watching the advocates duke it out, and earning about the issues in that way.

3. Fox News provides debate on the issues. Fox's commentary is weighted towards right-wing viewpoints. What distinguishes Fox's commentary from many other media outlets is that Fox includes dissenting viewpoints and promotes debate. Fox regular commentators include liberals Sally Kohn, Juan Williams, Alan Colmes, Kirsten Powers, Shepard Smith, Geraldo Rivera, Mara Liasson, Bill Shultz, Susan Estrich, Bob Beckel, Sanita Jackson, and Simon Rosenberg. Geraldo Rivera has his own program. Shepard Smith hosts the Fox evening news. Beckel and Schultz share hosting duties on daily programs. Socialist professor Marc Lamont Hill is a frequent guest on O'Reilly and other Fox programs.

The leftist viewpoint does not get equal time on the commentary shows, but they get to make their case so the audience learns what the controversy is about. If you are a fan of debate, you'll get to see fallacies and dropped arguments in practice. There is no other popular media source that serves up as much. The networks have some round tables on Sunday talk shows, and some on morning shows. In their versions the conservatives are heavily outnumbered, for example three to one on ABC's The View. Far left MSNBC has somewhat-conservative Joe Scarborough on in the morning, and that's about it. Debate or dissent are rare. Rachel Maddow has never disagreed with a guest on her program on any subject other than how terrible the right is. You have a much better chance seeing a socialist debate issues on Fox.

4. Fox News provides unique news coverage. Fox was the first major media outlet to question the Obama Administration's claim that the assault on the Benghazi started with demonstration against a YouTube video. The Administration ultimately admitted there was no demonstration at Benghazi. Fox broke the story of corruption and waste at the General Services Administration. [3.]

Fox first reported and “A top State Department official acknowledged Thursday that cables warning of serious security concerns at the U.S. compound in Benghazi went to department headquarters” [4.]

Fox broke the story of a U.S. marine imprisoned in Mexico on bogus charges, and put pressure that helped get him released. Fox provided fair coverage of Hillary Clinton's primary battle with then-Senator Barack Obama.

Hillary Clinton appeared on "Fox & Friends" Tuesday morning, where she discussed sexism with co-host Gretchen Carlson and took the opportunity to say that she "appreciated" Fox News' balanced coverage of her campaign.” [5.]

There are dozens of such cases. Fox probably picks up these stories and presses them because they are of interest to conservatives. That's fine. Getting news out to the public is a benefit.

5. Fox News is the primary source for Libertarian opinion on television. If you want to find out what libertarians have to say, John Stossel has, to my knowledge, the only weekly libertarian program on television. Libertarian Judge Andrew Napolitano is a frequent commentator on legal issues. Late night satirical humor show Red Eye (sort of a right-wing The Daily Show) is hosted by libertarians Greg Gutfeld and Andy Levy, and regularly feature libertarian guests including Reason Magazine editors and Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson. Business news program host Neil Cavuto regularly features libertarians, and defended Ron Paul against media smears and dismissal. [6. ]

6. Fox News is the primary source for Conservative opinion on television. I think my opponent will concede this fact. The issue is whether allowing conservatives air time is good thing. PBS and MSNBC prove liberal opinion almost exclusively. (Almost … there's McLaughlin on PBS, etc.) I defend not only the right of the Left to express opinions, but affirm the value to the country of having such outlets.

Political scientists at UCLA found Fox News' evening news biased only slightly right of center. "If viewers spent an equal amount of time watching Fox's 'Special Report' as ABC's 'World News' and NBC's 'Nightly News,' then they would receive a nearly perfectly balanced version of the news," [7.]

It's a benefit to have diverse viewpoints. Fox benefits society by offering a non-liberal view.

Debate Round No. 2


I'd like to thank Roy for his response. Sorry it has taken me so long to respond, I've had a busy couple of days. For times sake, I'll be dropping arguments 1&6. Additionally, those two arguments aren't necessarily important to affirm/negate the resolution. Rather, I'll be focusing my attention on 2-5.

2. Fox News serves those most interested in the news.

Con argues the reason FNC's informed rate is low, as opposed to Bill O'Reilly's rather high informed rate, is that FNC attracts people of all informed rates by using a mix of soft stories, entertainment news, and their popular morning networks. While this could be an explanation, it really doesn't answer the question of why these people are leaving their viewing sessions so uninformed. This quote from Fox News SVP Michael Clemente [1]

“An increasing number of viewers are relying on FOX News for both news and opinion. And the average news consumer can certainly distinguish between the A-section of the newspaper and the editorial page, which is what our programming represents. So, with all due respect to anyone who might still be confused about the difference between news reporting and vibrant opinion, my suggestion would be to talk about the stories and the facts, rather than attack the messenger…which over time, has never worked.”

In there lies the problem. He claims news consumers are certainly capable of distinguishing actual news reporting and vibrant opinion pieces. However, with Fox's rather large viewing base additionally depending on their opinion pieces, along with the actual news, to shape their views on world views, Fox now has a duty to make sure all the information they're reporting to be factual. I'm not so sure some Fox viewers are capable of differentiating objective news and vibrant opinions. So when Fox begins to push their political agenda, most of which contains certified falsehoods, their audience picks up those talking points, and uses them as their political foundation. This is why Fox News is looked upon with disdain. When FNC's commentators give their opinions that are littered with objective lies, the audience takes that to be the absolute truth.

3.Fox News provides debate on the issues.

Here, Con argues Fox is the only major news network that allows for discussion among various political platforms. He then goes on to name a list of liberals who contribute to FNC, and then even names a socialist that frequently appears on various FNC programs, more specifically O'Reilly's show.

I'll concede that Fox provides ample opportunity for discussing/debating issues on their programs. However, its the way the FNC commentators conduct themselves during these discussions that's objectionable. One specific example I can point out is the interview O'Reilly had with Joan Walsh. The debate ended with O'Reilly screaming at Walsh and claiming she had 'blood on her hands' for her pro-choice ideology. Not only is that no way to conduct yourself on national television, but O'Reilly's audience most likely picked up that talking point and used it whenever debating abortion rights. Lets be honest, FNC probably hires people to pretend they're liberals, in order to allow their conservative commentators to destroy them over whatever subject they're talking about. Whatever the reason may be, its not the amount of debates on FNC that's a problem; its the way they're conducted, and the faulty information contained within the discussions.

4. Fox News provides unique news coverage.

Con argues Fox provides news stories no other network covers, citing Benghazi as a key example. Now, as Tom Ricks pointed out in my second round argument (Source 3), the obsessive coverage the Benghazi situation received from FNC was due to the election being several months away. This was a chance to smear the Obama Administration for potentially covering up the murder of 4 Americans. Often, the only reason Fox ever provides 'unique' coverage of a specific news story nobody else is covering, is because its their opportunity to over blow the otherwise normal situation in an attempt to smear false attacks against the Obama administration.

Con also brings up Hillary Clinton commenting on how Fox provided a fairly objective/fair coverage of her campaign in 2008. I'm not sure what drove her to say that, as several Fox commentators frequently smeared her as being [2]

  • Too emotional
  • Calculated
  • Suffers from Mythomania
  • “B-word”
  • Vampire

Another reason she could of said this is because the majority of their time attacking Senator Obama, calling him things such as [2]

  • Muslim
  • Anti-American
  • Unpatriotic
  • A terrorist
  • Socialist

Obviously, not only were all of those characteristics of Clinton/Obama completely false, but they were slanderous and harmful to their reputation. Fox News should have been ashamed of themselves for promoting such falsehoods as objective truths. When Fox does this, their audience believes all these falsehoods are true, which is dangerous to a democratic society, as millions of people believe utterly ridiculous claims against a potentially good candidate are true.

5. Fox News is the primary source for Libertarian opinion on television

Con then argues FNC is the only source of Libertarian News. Due to time restraints, I don't have time to fully respond too it. What I can say though, is that most Libertarians don't rely on cable news programs for their news, due to their viewpoint usually never being represented. Libertarian's have plenty of websites and online media programs that they can rely on to get their news.

I will now turn the debate over to Roy.





There is nothing wrong with having commentary

An objective study showed that the straight news coverage on Fox is one of the least biased in media. The commentary is biased, but so are newspaper editorial pages and columnists, and every politician in Washington. There cannot be a debate without diverging opinion, and America is better off for Fox bringing diverse viewpoints to the people.

Audiences form their own conclusions

Pro and the studies he cites make the wrong assumption that if someone has a wrong idea the person must have gotten the misconception from the media.

At the time of the 2008 election, a Zogby poll showed “57% of Obama voters were unable to correctly answer that Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate.” [8.] Should we blame the media for this wild misconception? No, it's safe to say that not one major media outlet ever claimed Republicans were in control of Congress. Democrats figured it out the wrong conclusion for themselves based upon the pseudo-logic that since the economy is a disaster and Republicans must be at fault, then Republicans must be controlling Congress. Nothing was ever said by any of the media, but Democrats "figured it out."

Republicans did not have the misconception about who controlled Congress. The pattern is that people are more informed about the opposition than they are about their own their side of issues. Democrats did not know that Joe Biden was knocked out of a previous presidential run under charges of plagiarism, but Democrats knew more about allegations against Sarah Palin than did Republicans.

So if you want to produce a study that shows your opponent to be misinformed, the key is to ask questions that you side is more likely to know than the other side. Those are the particular points that you think are most important for everyone to know.

1. Fox News viewers are generally as well informed as other media viewers

The network morning shows are news programs produced by the network news departments. Those who watch the network morning shows have slightly more misconceptions that Fox News. [2. in R2] So should we conclude that the network morning news shows are spreading misconceptions? No what it points to is the merging of news with entertainment, which the networks began decades ago with their morning shows, and Fox has cashed in on. The viewers are only slightly interested in news and form misconceptions on their own. The surveys ask difficult questions about hard-news stories, but Fox, like the network morning shows covers many more topics than hard news, with topics I listed in R2. So the positive impact is with informing people on the spectrum of subjects.

Pro claimed that a study [his R2 ref 7] showed the misconceptions came from Fox News. That is not true. The study only correlated audiences with news sources. Neither the study nor Pro cited a single misconception that was promoted by Fox. Pro in his case did not cite any misconceptions made by Fox that were repeated by the audience. This is like Democrats believing Republicans ran Congress.

The FDU study claimed to show that Fox News viewers had "significantly more misconceptions" than people who said they watched no news. But why would someone who watched no news agree to participate in a survey about news media? Only about 9% of Americans respond to phone surveys at all. [9.] There were only 862 respondents to the FDU survey, and I suspect that almost no one uninterested in news would respond. The survey goes on to adjust the survey percentages to match national demographics. FDU conceals the actual numbers of respondents in each category, so it's not possible to check the claim that the difference is statistically significant. The most likely explanation of the outcome is statistical variation.

This is likely because other surveys do not agree with the FDU claim. PolitiFact found John Stewart to have been false when he accused Fox News watchers of being "the most consistently misinformed media viewers." PolitiFact says "it’s not enough to show a sliver of evidence that Fox News’ audience is ill-informed. ... It’s simply not true that "every poll" shows that result. So we rate his claim False.'" [10.]

2. Pro does not dispute the data showing viewers of programs like O'Reilly are as well informed as any media audience. [2] Therefore, my claim stands that Fox is serving the well-informed segment of the audience. there cannot be widespread misconceptions among those viewers or they would not have been rated in the most-informed group.

3. Pro concedes that Fox is a significant source of political debate. But he says that hurts America because sometimes commentators like O'Reilly lose their temper. (If rants are harmful, DDO must be death to America.) Rants on Fox are rare, while Fox is hosting dozens of short debates each day. Going into a rant always looks bad, so when O'Reilly does that he's making leftists look good by comparison. That doesn't make Fox bad for America. Flamboyant commentators are common these days, and O'Reilly is Mr. Polite compared CNN's Pierce Morgan [11.] or MSNBC's Ed Schultze [12.] Americans are well-accustomed to TV hosts blowing steam out their ears. It's rare on Fox and doesn't offset the good done by giving viewers information and serious debate.

The most common format for Fox confrontations are a Republican Congressman squared ff against a Democrat. Both being experienced politicians, these are typically polite to the point of boredom.

Before Fox, CNN had highly confrontational debates on their Crossfire program, and 60 Minutes had Point/Counterpoint. No one thought they were harmful.

Fox is only "looked on with disdain" by the fraction of the Left that believes opposing viewpoints ought to be suppressed. The left supports violent confrontation in the streets by movements like Occupy Wall street, but when someone is even vocal about a different viewpoint, they think America is harmed.

4. Pro grants that Fox covers stories not covered by other media. Pro claims that all such stories are smears against liberals.

On the day after the Benghazi attack witnesses evacuated from the consulate told intelligence agents that there was no demonstration at the consulate. Its perfectly appropriate to ask why two weeks later President Obama was attributing the attack to a demonstration over a YouTube video.

Pro says that he cannot figure out why Hillary Clinton thinks Fox was fair. I think Hillary Clinton is the definitive judge of that issue. Some guests on Fox made pointed criticisms of Clinton, just as Professor Hill makes pointed criticisms of capitalism on Fox. Fairness comes from having an opposing viewpoint, not from suppressing opinion.

Media Matters (MM) is a semi-rational hate site with a Fox obsession. An internal memo revealed plans for an "aggressive campaign that it outlines against Fox News' credibility involves hiring private investigators to learn about Fox employees, driving away Fox advertisers, creating a Fox SWAT team to respond to its coverage, ..." [13.]

MM points to Bret Hume quoting Obama's half-brother as saying he expected Obama to be favorable to Muslims. Obama did spent his youth in Muslim Indonesia. The next day Hume corrected the source for the story. Media Matters said he didn't make a full correction of the source and absurdly concluded that Fox was saying Obama was a Muslim.

Karl Rove correctly claimed the Democrats blocked Fannie Mae reform, but Media Matters said he lied. Rove in his book Courage and Consequence provided detailed descriptions of the three attempts to reform Fannie.

5. Stossel and other libertarians have a substantial audience on Fox. Pro says that libertarians aren't watching because they use websites. If so, then non-libertarians are watching the libertarian shows. That's a positive influence.

6. Pro did not contest.

Debate Round No. 3


emj32 forfeited this round.


Thanks to my opponent for initiating this debate. It provided me with an opportunity to debunk many of the criticisms of Fox, to expose fallacies in surveys, and to point out Fox's important role in bringing earnest debate to American politics.

Pro initiated the debate with the rule, "
2. A forfeit or concession is not allowed." He forfeited R4. Pro didn't say what the penalty is for doing something not allowed, so that's up to the voters. I call for a resolution of disapproval from the United Nations General Assembly.

Pro made four contentions in the challenge. The third contention was "manipulation of several communication methods." He never argued that, although perhaps he thought pointing to the MediaMatters web site addressed it. It's not my job to construct Pro's case, so that contention was effectively dropped. The fourth contention was "other negative tendencies" which were never spelled out.

That leaves two contentions that Pro attempted to prove. The first was "blatant bias in favor of conservative ideology." That divides into straight news reporting and commentary. I cited an objective study by UCLA that showed Fox's news reporting was the fourth least-biased of twenty media outlets analyzed, being as biased to the right as ABC is to the left. I didn't see any rebuttal from Pro.

Fox News does have an overall conservative bias in their commentary, just as the New York Times has a liberal bias in their editorial pages. Pro failed to show why offering a different political viewpoint supported the resolution of being "detrimental to the electorate." In fact, I claimed that being the principle television outlet for the conservative viewpoint was a positive value to the electorate, and Pro did not dispute that contention, saying he was dropping it as "not necessarily important to affirm/negate the resolution." That concedes my point. I noted that even though MSNBC is very biased to the left, I thought their existence served the electorate by presenting a different viewpoint.

That leaves one Pro contention to consider, that Fox spreads misinformation. Pro cites some surveys that correlate misinformation with viewing Fox, and conclude Fox is at fault. The surveys cited reach that conclusion by making three errors:

1. Correlation does not prove causation, a classic fallacy. People form erroneous conclusion entirely on their own. I cited the data that 57% of 2008 Obama voters incorrectly thought Republicans controlled Congress. No media outlet anywhere, to my knowledge, ever promoted that misconception, yet Democrats figured it out for themselves based upon bad reasoning.

2. People know a lot about the mistakes of their opponents, but little about the misinformation of their own side. So if a survey wants to make an opponent look foolish, they must focus on misinformation that's important to the side of the person making the survey. Surveys prejudiced to misinformation liberals believe important makes conservatives look uninformed. Conservatives could make a survey about misconceptions on gun rights or Benghazi or whatever interests them, and liberals would look uninformed.

3. Pro cherry picked the surveys, including the FDU survey that concealed the number of respondents in the dubious category of people who responded to a news media survey while claiming to never use any news media. PolitiFact checked the claims of misinformed Fox voters and found, "it’s not enough to show a sliver of evidence that Fox News’ audience is ill-informed. ... It’s simply not true that "every poll" shows that result. So we rate his claim False.'" I think that PolitiFact has a significant liberal bias, and others think they are impartial. I know of no one who thinks there are conservative.

Pro pointed to MediaMatters for example of alleged Fox bias. Pro didn't list any of the charges, but invited us to read the list and make his case for him. Since Pro raised no specifics himself, all I need do is quote a source, biased or not, that refutes them generally. I did that by citing evidence that Media Matters is so fanatically opposed to Fox that, among other things, they considered hiring private detectives to dig up dirt that could be used to attack Fox reporters.

Even though it was not necessary, I went ahead and considered a sample of the Media Matters charges. Claims that Karl Rove lied were simply false. A Fox news report that Obama's half brother thought Obama might be favorable to Muslims, hardly an accusation at all, was twisted by Media Matters as a claim that Fox was saying Obama himself is Muslim. Other Media Matters claims had to do with commentary that MM thought was not adequately refuted by others on the program. The criticisms are so strained as be ridiculous.

Positive benefits of Fox News

I made six contentions regarding the value of Fox.

1. Fox has expanded the audience for cable news with an audience about equal to all competitors combined. The average Fox viewer is slightly better informed than viewers of the network morning news shows. Fox, like the network shows informs about topics ranging from health to schools to business, and not so much about what's happening in Egypt. Nonetheless it's a benefit to the electorate to be more informed on soft news subjects. Pro did not contest this contention and said he would not.

2. Fox serves serious news viewers.
Viewers or O'Reilly (the top Fox show) and other evening commentary programs are in the top of most-informed viewers. Pro didn't dispute this, but claimed that average viewers are misinformed, a false claim a discussed above. It benefits the electorate to dish up serious commentary.

Pro concedes that Fox is a significant source of political debate. Pro didn't dispute my claim, but argued that O'Reilly is sometimes rude and that's bad. Yes, O'Reilly is sometimes rude, but his rants are rare and only serve to diminish his credibility. It's not at all characteristic of Fox news, and it's not going to harm the serious news viewers that comprise his well-informed audience. If being impolite is damaging, then the frequent wild and directly insulting rants of Pierce Morgan (CNN) and Ed Schultze (MSNBC) would surely have brought down the Republic. Rants on DDO should have endangered the entire world. It's better to be uniformly polite, but it's not a big deal.

Most of Fox features balanced one-on-one debate between legislators, politicians, pundits, and lawyers. Debate is valuable to the electorate.

4. Fox covers stories not featured elsewhere, like the problem with President Obama claiming for two weeks that the Benghazi attack arose from a protest of YouTube video when CIA interviews with evacuees the next day revealed there was no protest at all. Pro said it's all smears, but the fact remain. The Administration ultimately admitted there was no protest.

Fox countered smears of Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primaries, and Sen. Clinton acknowledged Fox's fairness.

The electorate is offered news not covered elsewhere, and that's valuable.

5. Fox offers more libertarian viewpoints than any other television source. Libertarians have regular programs on Fox, like that of John Stossel. Pro argued that libertarians don't watch television. That's doubtful, but if true the Fox is reaching non-libertarians with the significant audiences of their programming. that serves the electorate with an important viewpoint rarely found elsewhere.

6. Pro did not contest my claim that Fox was the most important television outlet for conservative commentary. Again, having multiple viewpoints serves the electorate.

In this debate, please consider that my opponent forfeited a round contrary to his rules. He used the extremely weak Media Matters site as a source attempting to provide bias, and he provided no objective sources comparable to the UCLA study. He did not contend my arguments 1 and 6, and did not answer any of my rebuttals.
Debate Round No. 4
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by TheElderScroll 5 years ago
Harmony is not a value to be sought. Ban on Fox News would amount to censorship, a dangerous path that no one should ever consider pursuing. (Well, to a certain extent, President Bush seems to be in favor of censorship. He attempted to justify his ban by relating it to the national security. A smart move). Fox News reports on Benghazi scandal may be partially driven by its political interest, but it also keeps public informed. Most liberal media outlets chose to ignore the incident, if not completely. Moreover, Fox News helps people (including me) understand how the issue is viewed from conservatives (DOMA, Affordable Care, Gay Marriage for example, and Platinum coin).

I would blame both liberal and conservative media outlets for the current impasse in Congress due to it tremendous influence on public opinions. Main stream media outlets(mostly liberal) refuse to publish dissenting opinions whereas conservative media outlets, occasionally, disparage liberals as radical socialists. It isn"t right.
Posted by RoyLatham 5 years ago
Opinions are not polarized in North Korea, and sure enough the media is completely harmonious. It's that way in every authoritarian state. Harmony is not a value to be sought, because it leads to walking off a cliff in lockstep.

In most of American history there has been polarization much worse than now. Newspapers took sides and wouldn't publish anything favoring the opposition. I think World War II created a temporary bit of harmony. JFK ran to the right of Nixon on foreign policy, and everybody liked capitalism and strong defense. Republicans thought government should grow, just at a slower rate than Democrats. That consensus has dissolved over time and we are back to the good old days of polarization.
Posted by TheElderScroll 5 years ago
I would believe Fox News helps polarize public opinions. Just like that MSNBC is very biased to the left, Fox News is very biased to the right. If one could link the current political impasse (the uncompromising culture spread by the Tea Party extremists) to the polarized opinions articulated on Fox News, one may be able to claim that America would be better off without Fox News.
Posted by RoyLatham 5 years ago
"Detrimental" means "negative," and the country is better off without something negative. That doesn't imply that you are claiming Fox News ought to be censored, or anything like that, just that it has been bad for the country. Anyway, I don't think the meaning will be an issue in the debate.
Posted by emj32 5 years ago
My apologies Roy for not answering your question in R1. My usage of the 'word' detriemental was not to promote the idea America would be better off without Fox News, it was just a word to attract more viewers to the debate ( an attention grabber per se ). As it stand, the resolution that is being affirmed is presented on my side in R1, using the word 'negative' instead of 'detrimental'.
Posted by 16kadams 5 years ago
Posted by TheElderScroll 5 years ago
Hmm....I have no idea how the socialism fits into all this.
Are you suggesting that since Fox News does not advocate the socialism, the network is not trustworthy?
Posted by RationalMadman 5 years ago
How is that better TheElderScroll when socialism isn't even encouraged by it :(
Posted by TheElderScroll 5 years ago
The Fox News is getting better. It begins to feature some opinions in favor of Democrats after President Obama re-election, kind of surprise though.
Posted by RoyLatham 5 years ago
Hmmm, after pondering, I'll take the debate if you want to post the challenge to me.

When you set a debate so no one can accept it, you should explain what it is you are trying to accomplish.
7 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro made some good arguments about the bias of Fox News but couldn't draw a strong enough connection of how a biased news service is necessarily detrimental to the United States. Con seems to agree on the fact that Fox News is biased but clearly separated their news stories from their opinion segments. I strongly believed that Fox news was biased in favor of the conservative side but Con's data about the bias being limited to their commentary was very convincing and makes me question whether their straight news coverage is biased at all. In any case, the forfeit and the stronger points from Con make the voting obvious.
Vote Placed by DoubtingDave 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro forfeited the debate and con successfully negated pro's arguments and provided compelling arguments for his position.
Vote Placed by Hemanth_Nambiar 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: FF By pro.
Vote Placed by TheElderScroll 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro argues that Fox News deliberately manipulates the information in an attempt to advance its political agenda. However, the study he cited is effectively debunked by Con as inclusive. 3% difference (with approx. 900 sample size) is hardly called statistically significance. Besides, it is not clear to me why ?Blatant bias in favor of conservative ideology? is harmful. Con, on the other hand, demonstrates that Fox News serves serious news viewers, and it would be a bad idea to suppress dissenting opinions. Con also argues that O?Reilly is an atypical case and does not represent the general characteristics of Fox News. My vote goes to Con for demonstrating better conduct (FF), and presenting more convincing arguments.
Vote Placed by Nur-Ab-Sal 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro's forfeiture, aside from breaking his own rules, results in a victory for Con.
Vote Placed by drafterman 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I felt that Pro was making some good points Early on, while Con's were a bit weaker. However, the forfeiture of Pro, plus the acknowledgement of post hoc by Con tilts the debate in favor of Con.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: "2. A forfeit or concession is not allowed." Pro rule round one. Pro FFd. So con wins.