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Op-Ed

Is 'Fair and Balanced' Really Fair?

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A Conflicted Mission Statement

President Trump recently tweeted his discontent with some of Fox News Channel’s hires, such as their bringing on Donna Brazile as a political contributor. In his defense of Fox’s coverage, Neil Cavuto cited the network’s former mission statement in asserting, “It’s called being fair and balanced, Mr. President.”

By balanced Fox apparently means representing both the left and right, Democrat and Republican. Unlike the other major networks that manifest strong bias toward the left, Fox promises to refrain from bias in either direction, providing balanced representation to both. Hiring Brazile reflects that objective.

This position at first blush seems noble, placing Fox above the partisan fray. Further consideration, however, reveals that fairness and balance are irreconcilable, at least in covering many critical news topics. Here is the problem.

The Role of Truth

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The fair and balanced mantra suggests that both left and right, Democrat and Republican, hold valid perspectives. This, however, is not the case. Though the truth of individual statements made by both sides might be challenged, the central elements of the left consist of error.

Materialism, the belief that only matter and energy exist, comprises the core component of the leftist worldview. However, recent discoveries of science reveal that life is too complex for even a single cell to develop solely through the mechanisms of time plus chance plus natural selection.

A recent video series by Discovery Institute provides compelling support for that conclusion. The materialist view of the universe is not rooted in scientific truth but in the leftist commitment to a universe devoid of God.

Communism and socialism, the left’s favorite political theories, have consistently produced disaster. Big government, with high taxes and intrusive regulations, has also failed repeatedly. By way of contrast, the lower taxes and fewer regulations of the Trump administration have produced economic success.

Likewise, leftists justify abortion with the claim that a woman has a right to do what she wants with her body. BBC’s Ethics guide cites as the first argument in favor of abortion as, “women have a moral right to decide what to do with their bodies.” (Emphasis theirs) This position connotes that the unborn baby does not possess a separate identity and commensurate rights, which is obviously untrue.

The list could go on of erroneous positions embraced by the left. Its educational theories produce failing test scores, its social policies are destroying the family, and its ideologies are producing societal fragmentation. These failures expose the faulty nature of their ideas.

In light of the erroneous character of leftist positions, the commitment of Fox News to balance requires it to air equal parts of truth and falsehood. Doing so conflicts with its quest to be fair. Is it fair to the American people to present untruth on the same footing as truth? Is it fair to present conservative positions that are supported by reality as rational and moral equals with those promoting error?

Error and Harm

This propagation of error in the name of balance is also unfair because of its potential to inflict harm.

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The policies of the left have already resulted in the murder of over 60 million unborn babies. How unfair to babies in the womb to give a platform to those advocating the right to kill them.

If Fox’s pursuit of balance helps the Democrats secure the presidency and Congress, this could lead to the advancement of socialism and even communism in our society. These systems have resulted in despotism, oppression, poverty, and murder, as seen in the Soviet Union, communist China, North Korea, Cuba, and now Venezuela. How unfair to the American people, in the name of balance, to lend a voice to reducing America to another Venezuela.

Fox Must Maintain Responsibility

Fox News may seek to escape its responsibility to sort out truth from error with the cliché, “We report. You decide.” This approach conveys a postmodern view in which truth does not exist but only stories. This reduces Fox’s role merely to telling the stories, both left and right, and letting the listener decide which he prefers.

Their profession as journalists, however, assigns them the responsibility of determining what is the truth and what is not. Yes, in some instances the truth is not so apparent, and it is good for the public to hear both sides.

However, in most issues involving left versus right, the truth is accessible and as journalists, they are responsible to access it. Presenting both sides as possessing an equal claim to the truth is neither journalistically responsible nor fair.

Fox News must decide whether it wants to be balanced or fair, but it cannot be both.

In the past, it has displayed a preference toward fairness. Trump seems to express a legitimate concern that it is currently trending more toward balance.

Fox News would do itself and the American public a favor by scrapping the “fair and balanced” mantra and replacing it with “fair and factual.”

Doing so might even improve its relationship with the president.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Paul Brownback graduated from West Point, has a Master of Divinity degree from Talbot Theological Seminary, a Master of Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma, and a PhD from New York University. He has served as a pastor, counselor, hospice chaplain and Bible college president. He has written several books and writes posts for his blog, reclaimhisimage.com. He is married to Connie and has two grown children.




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