Ashley Pierce is a political science freshman and Mustang Daily conservative columnist.

After a long day of classes I always try to make it to the gym — that, or I eat my feelings. On the days I do make it to the gym, I spend my time flipping through the three major news outlets: CNN, MSNBC and Fox News.

Being conservative, yes, Fox News is usually my main choice (that Greg Gutfeld is hilarious) and during commercial breaks I flip to CNN and MSNBC. CNN, I admit, I only ever catch during the Piers Morgan block and all I’ve learned from him is that he hates guns. He really, really hates guns. I think that’s the only thing I’ve seen him speak on besides an interview with a woman who escaped the Westboro Baptist Church (which I was genuinely intrigued to hear about).

While I generally agree with Fox News’ points on issues, I can get just as agitated watching a Fox show as when watching MSNBC. Fox almost always has a liberal and a conservative commentator to present the two sides to each argument, giving conservatives another side to hear out. While their anchors may generally have Republican beliefs, both sides are almost always presented and there are independent and liberal anchors such as Bill O’Reilly and Shepard Smith.

The Pew Research Center did a study that found Fox News is 55 percent opinion and 45 percent factual reporting. CNN is 46 percent opinion and 54 percent factual reporting (good for them — though their opinions can lean left). Last but not least, MSNBC came in with 85 percent opinion and 15 percent factual reporting.

Eighty-five percent opinion. That would be like Mustang Daily running almost entirely opinion columns and then pretending it was actual news. If MSNBC was openly honest with the public that its station was mostly opinion — and a liberal leaning one at that — there wouldn’t even be a problem.

MSNBC, however, continues to consider themselves a “news” station, even when less than a quarter of its output actually contains factual information. The station’s anchors deny their bias repeatedly even with a slogan of “Lean Forward” which hints of progressiveness: a common liberal ideal.

Political commentators can surely lean any which way they please, but that certainly is not the case with the news anchors or reporters.

I acknowledge that Fox News has an inclination to lean conservative and has its own bias, but at least its entire programming isn’t opinion-based. When opinions are given, Fox almost always has a liberal and a conservative expert on screen who give their arguments for both sides of the issue being discussed. Not to mention, Fox remains one of the only news networks that isn’t leaning left. I don’t blame Fox for making up for the other channels by leaning a little bit to the right.

Normally I wouldn’t consider this particularly worthy of an article, but considering the blatant attacks I see on Fox News every single day, I couldn’t quite resist the chance to share the findings of this study — as I bet they will be reported on very little by anyone other than Fox.

Know what you’re watching folks, understand that sometimes news stations aren’t giving you the full story. CNN did the best in the study with only 46 percent of its programming being opinion (though with Piers Morgan as its primetime host, viewers may be gaining more left-leaning bias than MSNBC programming).

I encourage avid news watchers out there to flip through the channels, at least. If MSNBC is your cup of tea, more power to you. But during the commercial break, try to take in some O’Reilly, Gutfeld or Morgan.

Some of you will take nothing from this and forever find Fox News or Faux News (as people lovingly like to call it) the most vile, polarized, brain washing news station out there. But just know — the facts are showing otherwise.

Join the Conversation


  1. To call any of those stations “news” is quite a leap. Reporting the facts does not remove bias. Listen to NPR, PBS, Al Jazeera English, BBC World News, or any other reputable journalistic entity and you can hear the difference almost immediately.

    NPR is perhaps the greatest example of how to do human interest and opinion stories while still maintaining a proper news feed. News is delivered separately from fluff, experts are brought on for deeper discussion, rather than confirmation or denial, and when diametrically opposed political commentators come along, they actually discuss and bounce ideas off of each other.

    Of course, they all have their issues. NPR will cover female issues more than male, just as FOX or MSNBC will cover more republican or democratic* issues respectively.

    Al Jazeera English is the most obvious with its focus on the plights of the poor and war-torn.

    All in all, the most important thing to take away from this is that the cable news networks don’t have anchors – none of them – they have commentators that lead the viewer through the story. Some lean one way, some the other, but it is impossible to tell an unbiased story while holding someone’s hand.

    *Let’s be honest, it’s not a liberal vs conservative mindset in the least. In fact, Finding an on-air commentator that would be able to define either of those terms correctly without ruining their image would be quite difficult. They know it too – all you have to do is listen to Bill O’Reilly when he doesn’t know he’s being recorded to see how massively independent and intelligent he is. It’s too bad he doesn’t use those powers for good and instead acts like an arrogant ass.

  2. “Get the facts, choose news wisely”

    Yes!!! That’s why I don’t watch Fox News which is saturated with opinions. I instead follow NPR, PBS, Democracy Now, BBC, Al Jazeera English as they report only facts.

  3. There are other surveys that have found that people who watch Fox know fewer facts about news events than those who don’t watch or read any news source. Fox is notorious for presenting misinformation as facts and confusing the viewers.

    For example, Fox loves to claim that President Obama is the biggest spender ever! The fact is his administration since 2008 has been the lowest spender since Eisenhower. You won’t hear that fact on Fox.

  4. This is a tired and flawed approach to the media question. Tired
    in that you insist to beat the “media bias” dead horse. Flawed in that you try
    to find value in 24-hour news networks. These channels exist, first and foremost,
    to entertain. News comes second. If you really want to stay informed, read
    publications like Foreign Policy and The Economist. While these mediums have
    their flaws and ideological cants, they’re written to inform first and
    entertain second.

  5. You misrepresent the study. It is a comparison of news broadcasts hours in a day, to non-news broadcast hours in a day. Your description leads one to believe that since 15% of msnbc is news, the other 85% is opinion. But if you watch the end of the Rachel Maddow show on Fridays, she sends you to prison, if you are unfamiliar the show after it is some reality show about prisons. This is clearly not news, but it is not opinion or commentary either, it’s filler. It should not be counted in the percentage but this study does just that. There are lots of other programming like this in the wee hours of the morning (I assume the same is for fox but I’ve never watched it late at night.) But I know, as mentioned in the article that msnbc’s budget sucks compared to fox’s so I think it’s safe to assume that although msnbc has fewer hours of news, it’s ratio of news to non-news is not accurately depicted in the study.

    What makes things worse for you is you’ve fallen into the trap of thinking commentary and opinion shows are news, which is the real take away we should have here. When I watch Rachel Maddow, I know it’s has some news, mainly the headlines, but it is mostly opinions and commentary of her and her guests. But you have written an article warning us to make sure we get good news sources and avoid commentary and opinion, then recommend we check out the opinion and commentary shows on fox news. O’Reilly, Gutfeld and Morgan are all opinion and commentary. Either you don’t recognize they are commentary and not news, or your article is deeply flawed.

    You should also look at the outcomes for the viewers of each stations on how closely their view of reality lines up with actual reality. Hint, fox news viewers doesn’t do well.

    Also as a side note, Al Jazeera English does a great job, they put all of our major broadcast news to shame.

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