Tuesday, November 30, 2004


A look at headlines for both shows the following. These are headlines from the home pages and from the U.S., World, and Politics, sections. I have only included news headlines from stories that might be of political interest to liberals and conservatives.

CNN and Fox both covered Tom Ridge stepping down, Bush’s visit to Canada, Iraq news, and the resignation of head of the NAACP.

CNN covers:
Falluja 'a horror' after U.S.-led offensive
Bill lets Musharraf keep dual role
Bush nudges intelligence overhaul bill
Gutierrez, Kellogg lobbied for cheaper sugar
Groups advocate allowing foreign-born president
Democrats raised at least $13 million in November

Fox covers:
School’s Carol Rule for the Grinch?
Panel Recommends Sweeping Changes at the U.N.
Sept. 11 Families Urge Action on Intel Reform
GOP Discusses National Sales Tax
Sen. Coleman: Annan Should Resign
San Diego Mayoral Vote Certification Blocked
Dutch Hospital Euthanizing Terminally Ill Newborns

Generally, it would appear to me that CNN’s stories are geared more toward liberal readers and Fox’s towards conservatives. This may not be a big revelation to some but when compared, it is hard to dismiss the differences.

Monday, November 29, 2004

New Commerce Secretary

CNN and Fox both covered Bush’s naming of Carlos Gutierrez as Commerce Secretary. CNN mentions Gutierrez as a minority in the first paragraph and as the second Hispanic-American nominated for a cabinet post in the second paragraph. The Fox article never mentions the word “minority” but does have a quote mid-way in the article from a Cuban-born republican representative, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla. Her quote was: "It is a great honor and a source of pride for us to have another Hispanic serving in the president's Cabinet and this truly demonstrates the president's commitment to Hispanics and our beliefs and values."

Both articles were very positive about Gutierrez’s qualifications. CNN gives one brief quote from Gutierrez about two-thirds into the article: “Gutierrez said he would be honored to serve in the post and to "play a role in advancing the president's great and bold agenda for our country."” Fox gives a larger quote near the beginning of the article as follows: "I believe in [Bush's] call for a vibrant, growing entrepreneurial society, where everyone has the opportunity to experience the joy and the pride of ownership, where everyone can contribute and where everyone can benefit. I have had the opportunity to live that American dream so I know the president's vision is noble, I know it's real and I know it's tangible."

Near the beginning of the article, CNN quotes Peter Morici, a former U.S. trade official as saying “Gutierrez appears to fit Bush's pattern of hiring trusted managers over untested innovators.” “"Bush has a clear idea of what he wants to do on the economy," said Morici. "He's really not looking for people to come in and create new policy for him, rather to be a messenger and execute according to his blueprint."” Fox notes: “As commerce secretary, Gutierrez will be responsible for building trade relationships and promoting U.S. exports. However, the position is not one that generally develops policy.”

CNN devotes the last part of their article to Gutierrez’s background and the impact of his leaving on Kellogg, where he is the CEO. Fox talks about Bush’s changes in his economic team as he pursues “three campaign promises — reforming Social Security and the nation's income tax system and limiting medical malpractice awards.”

What I find interesting are the differences in the way the story is covered. Why did CNN add the quote from Peter Morici? Why did CNN give a short quote from Gutierrez whereas Fox quoted a parargraph? Why did CNN place the quote later in the article whereas Fox's quote was early in the article? Why did Fox take the opportunity to talk about Bush's three economic campaign promises whereas CNN chose to talk about the impact on Kellogg? Seemingly small things but it makes the point, I hope, that all news reports involve a series of choices and those choices are influenced by many factors. Influences which probably include political biases, no matter how objective one tries to be.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Blue and Red

Not much to comment on today.

This election year, much was said of blue states (democratic) and red states (republican). I noticed today while looking at CNN.com and FOXnews.com that CNN's home page is largely blue for it's template. While Fox is primarily red. Just a coincidence I guess.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Time Out for a Comment

Just a note to say that I am pointing out differences between CNN and Fox News articles without trying to draw conclusions. For many of the differences, separate conclusions can be drawn. For example, in the previous post, I pointed out that CNN included in their article the total number of U.S. deaths in Iraq since the start of the war. Conservatives might point out that that indicates CNN is trying to take away support for the war effort by emphasizing our losses. Liberals might say that Fox's not pointing that out is indicative of their biased support of Bush's Iraq decisions.

More on Iraqi Elections

Both had stories again on the Iraqi elections. Fox News’ home page had a headline link (font size 17.5 point) that said “Iraq ‘Ready’ for Jan. Elections” with a picture of soldiers and also this statement: “Country determined to hold elections on time despite calls for postponement, according to prime minister.” When you click on the link you get an AP story with the headline, “Allawi: Determined to Hold Elections on Time.”

CNN gave less emphasis with a home page “more news” link (12 point) that says, “Bombs kill 5 in Baghdad.” When you click on that the headline is “Iraq PM: Election should go ahead” with a sub-headline, “5 Iraqis killed by Baghdad bombs.”

Fox News’ AP story devotes 424 words to the election and then 317 on violence in Iraq.

CNN has 106 words on the elections and 378 on violence in Iraq including this final statement, “Some 1,235 U.S. service personnel have died in Iraq -- 964 from hostile fire -- since the beginning of the U.S.-led war in March 2003.”

Friday, November 26, 2004

Iraqi Elections

Both have stories this date on a potential delay in the Iraqi elections. CNN’s is entitled “Ex-Iraqi foreign minister backs call to delay elections.” Underneath that headline is a smaller headline of “Blast in Baghdad's Green Zone kills four British security workers.” Fox’s AP story headline is “U.S. Forces Find More Bodies in Mosul” and starts with U.S. forces finding bodies of apparent victims of the insurgents’ intimidation campaign. Both articles cover many of the same facts but do so in different order. They cover various events around Iraq.

CNN’s first 154 words talk about calls for delays. Then Bush’s opinion is quoted. Following Bush administration comments, there are another 132 words on the election and most pertain to the extension of deadlines in submitting candidate lists and the certifying of political parties. Fox quotes Bush in the 2nd paragraph. The next part of the Fox article is an update of events in Iraq. At the end of the article, 388 words are devoted to the election-delay issue.

CNN talked of a “group of 15 Iraqi political parties, backed by former Iraqi foreign minister Adnan Pachachi” and later they add “The call Friday came at a meeting that marked the first time the Sunni parties were joined by secular parties, including the two major Kurdish parties.” Fox says, “17 political parties representing Sunni Arabs, Kurds, Christians and secular groups demanded postponing the vote for at least six months until the government is capable of securing polling places.” Fox presents views from both Sunnis (delay) and Shiites (no delay).

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Coverage continued

In the “Politics” sections of both sites today there are different stories covered as noted below:

CNN: The biggest story had to do with the omnibus budget bill. Another is a Reuters’ story about a government auditor who said that the U.S. Army should withhold some future payments to Halliburton for work in Iraq due to billing disputes. Another was entitled, “Top-donating corporate PACs favored GOP.” A fourth news report had to do with a federal judge denying a request by the Green party presidential candidate who wanted to force a recount of Ohio ballots even before the official count was finished.

Fox: First is a story about a CIA report regarding Iran’s nuclear activity. Another is about the future of the 9th Circuit Federal Appeals Court [considered by some to be a liberal activist court]. A third story was from the AP entitled, “Government Open But Dems Still Mad.”

There was a wide range of stories covered but very little overlap between what Fox and CNN covered.

Operation Plymouth Rock

On November 23rd, CNN and Fox both ran articles about a new war campaign in Iraq. CNN’s was entitled, “U.S., Iraqi forces hit rebels south of Baghdad.” The Fox headline was “'Operation Plymouth Rock' Nabs Terrorists.” Both articles start with information about the operation and then they each go on to talk about other news in Iraq.

For the first part of the article on the operation, Fox uses “terrorists” twice to describe insurgents. CNN does not use the term “terrorist.” Both talk of the capture of 32 suspected insurgents. Fox also notes the arrests of another 45 terrorists. Fox uses 224 words for this portion of the article, CNN 133. Fox adds two quotes by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.

As the articles continue they switch to other topics from Iraq. CNN covers Secretary of State Powell’s statements from an international conference on the Middle East. CNN also covers the killing of two Sunni clerics. Fox covers Fallujah including this quote, “And "there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that Iraqis ... realize the importance and their role and their mission" in making sure Iraq is put on the way toward democracy, Myers added.” Fox also covers news on al-Sadr followers.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Coverage -- 2

Yesterday, CNN highlighted a story about a new poll on Bush entitled, "Poll: Majority gives Bush good job approval mark." At the time of this posting, Fox had not run a story on it. One might have thought that it would have been the other way around.

Fox almost always has a war story on its home page that is prominently displayed, as at the time of this posting. CNN has a link to a war story but it usually is not as prominently displayed unless there is a big development.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Spending Bill

Both CNN and Fox covered a story where a tax disclosure provision was apparently slipped into the spending bill that was passed. CNN had their own story with the largest headline saying "Frist: Tax Returns measure indefensible." Fox used an AP story with a smaller headline and link that said "Tax Disclosure Hidden in Spending Bill."

CNN's opening two paragraphs said:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Sunday that "accountability will be carried out" against whoever slipped a provision into an omnibus spending bill that would have allowed two committee chairmen to view the tax returns of any American.

The language was caught and removed in the Senate on Saturday, but the House will have to approve the fix before the spending bill can be sent to the White House for President Bush's signature.

Fox's AP story began with:
Congress passed legislation Saturday giving two committee chairman and their assistants access to income tax returns without regard to privacy protections, but not before red-faced Republicans said it was all a mistake and would be swiftly repealed.

The Senate unanimously adopted a resolution immediately after passing a 3,300-word spending bill containing the measure, saying the provision "shall have no effect." House leaders promised to pass the resolution next Wednesday.

Fox's AP story starts off a little less alarmist and draws less attention on their web site than CNN's article. But, both stories similar content overall and both talked about the problems with the current system.

Saturday, November 20, 2004


I thought I would check to see what stories they are each covering. What they choose to cover and how the headlines are worded can be indicative of some type of bias. At 5 pm November 20, 2004, I checked and found that CNN did not have a story on the House resolution praising the Boy Scouts and condeming legal efforts to cut federal ties to the organization. On an intelligence story, CNN puts "GOP lawmakers block intelligence overhaul" in the headline. Fox's headline was "Congress Fails to Pass Intelligence Overhaul." The story talks of republican blocks but does not put that in the headline.

Clinton Library

I've compared recent new stories from both CNN and Fox News about the dedication of the Clinton library. Here are some differences between the two. Some of the differences are subtle and others are not. CNN quotes are in blue; Fox in red; my comments in brackets. These are from November 19th articles posted on their respective web sites.

1. CNN (2nd paragraph):
The library and presidential center has offered Clinton an opportunity to further define his legacy as the nation's 42nd commander-in-chief. Fox (1st paragraph): Former President Bill Clinton said his new library, dedicated Thursday in Little Rock, Ark., represents the changes that took place in the United States during his eight years as president. [Subtle, but one talks about legacy and the other about changes.]

2. Fox (3rd paragraph): Designed to reflect Clinton's eight-year-long theme of building a bridge to the 21st century, the $165 million glass and steel home of Clinton memorabilia and artifacts, holds memories the president can be proud of as well as a few recollections he may prefer to forget. [Mention, early on in the article, of negative aspects of the presidency.] CNN (12th paragraph): The library offers a "warts and all" look at Clinton's presidency, including his impeachment and a brief mention of his acknowledged relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. That exhibit -- which is titled "The Fight for Power" -- also criticizes former independent counsel Kenneth Starr, leader of the Whitewater probe. [No other mention is made of Clinton's scandal but this one mention follows with a criticism of Starr comment.] Later in the article Fox says:
The privately funded center exposes not only highlights from the 42nd president's terms in office but some lowlights, too, including the president's impeachment by the House of Representatives. "Presidential libraries are not about rewriting history. Presidential libraries are about preserving history, and they reflect the good and the bad, the success and failures and the victories and defeats," said Skip Rutherford, head of the Clinton Presidential Library Foundation. Even Monica Lewinsky's name appears in the library, in the alcove titled "The Fight for Power," which details the legal battles between Clinton and special counsel Kenneth Starr and congressional Republicans. The display is taken from Clinton's point of view, but historians say that is to be expected in any presidential library."We really let our visitors and all the people who come and visit this library over the next 20 years to decide whether or not it is objective," said presidential library director David Alsobrook.

3. Fox: In that alcove are also other memorable moments from the Clinton era, including the Republican-led legislation called the "Contract With America" and the Whitewater investigation, which includes Whitewater figure Susan McDougal in her U.S. Marshals-provided orange jumpsuit. "We had to show this was a systematic attempt by Republican leaders to delegitimize Bill Clinton and the administration," said former Clinton adviser Bruce Lindsey, who worked with the ex-president through much of the exhibit-design process. [Fox is focussing a little more on the controversies of Clinton's administration and how those are depicted in the library.]

4. Fox:
"A lot of memories, but unfortunately for Democrats, it's all we have right now," said Democratic strategist James Carville. Big-name Democrats are in Little Rock for the occasion, talking about the future of the party. Democrats have lost two consecutive presidential elections since Clinton held office. [Fox chooses to add some connections to the recent elections.]

5. Fox (last paragraph): When the building opens to the public Friday, visitors paying $7 can peruse the library's 14 alcoves detailing different aspects of Clinton's Oval Office years — one of which is dedicated to scandal. [Fox adds a parting shot for the last comment.]

6. Both gave descriptions of the celebreties present and facts and figures about the new facility. Quotes of speaches by various speakers were given although both use different quotes.