News,  Politics

Which cable news network is the most partisan?

The Pew Research Center’s 2013 State of the News Media report has some interesting data in it. I would have assumed FOX News to be the network airing the largest percentage of commentary, but that is not at all the case. Of the three cable networks, MSNBC far outstrips the other networks in the percentage of its airtime that’s devoted to commentary. Here’s how commentary vs. reporting breaks down for each network:













CNN is the only one of the three that devotes the majority of its airtime to reporting the news. It’s also the network that lags far behind the other two networks in terms of total viewership. Viewers seem to have more of an appetite for opinion journalism than for straight news reporting. That is not a good thing, in my view.

(HT: Politico)


  • Don Johnson

    Many people do not want the views that they already hold challenged, they want to hear what they think the already know. This creates what I call an information cocoon. The web is doing this for us automatically also, as it tries to give us what it thinks we want.

    All of us need to be purposeful in breaking out of these information cocoons in our life.

    • Patrick Duncan

      There’s all kinds of bias that goes into “straight news reporting”. To suggest that opinion shaping doesn’t happen there, especially with current standards, culture and practices in journalism, is just flat out false.

  • Melody Mariner

    CNN gives news but it is always with a slant in how they present it. So I only tune into them when there is a disaster because they seem to have more and better camera angles. I have MSNBC programmed off my remote.

  • Bill Soistmann

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. I know a lot of people think FOX is all commentary, but it’s not. I think that’s what makes them so dangerous, frankly. They do it all in the guise of “just reporting the facts.” The truth is, though, that those “facts” are not always true. They manipulate data, leave out key facts, and intentionally mislead people with fallacious conclusions.

    I’m not saying the other networks don’t do it too. They do, but it is much more common on FOX.

  • James Stanton

    I think there’s a some other things we can take away from this. News can be reported in a partisan manner while partisan commentary isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Access to multiple viewpoints and opinions is a good thing.

    Viewers of the broadcast news (ABC, NBC, CBS) far outnumber viewers of the opinion-dominated channels. Channels like FNC and MSNBC exist to drive stories and entertainment. These are capitalist corporations that sell a product and not simply to report the news.

  • James Stanton

    I forgot to add that I think it would be interesting to find out which news or news entertainment company best educates its viewers to the issues of the day. We’re just about at the 10 year anniversary of the start of the Iraq war and I’m curious as to how what people have learned about that war from 2003 till now.

    In 2003 we were hearing about how Saddam Hussein was connected to the 9/11 attacks and how we faced an imminent threat from nuclear weapons and/or biological and chemical weapons. Our national media parroted the conventional wisdom and outright lies and manufactured evidence from the Bush Administration and its allies in both parties.

    How many people know today that this war led to the killing of upwards of 200,000 Iraqis and ~3,000 Americans and another 30,000 wounded? How many know that we exchanged one dictator for another who happens to be Shiite and allied with Iran?

    That is what is wrong with partisan commentary that aims to deceive instead of educate.

    • Denny Burk

      James, the Bush administration never claimed that Iraq was behind the 9/11 attacks nor did it ever claim that Iraq possessed nuclear weapons nor did it ever claim that the U.S. was under imminent threat from Iraq’s WMD’s. That’s a revisionist history of the case that the United States made for that war.

      • buddyglass

        Not so sure.

        Read Cheney’s answer to Russert’s question “Why is it acceptable for the United States to lead a military attack against a nation that has not attacked the United States?”

        In his answer Cheney mentions that Iraq has WMDs, that Iraq is cozy with Al Qaeda and that Al Qaeda badly wants to use WMDs against the U.S. That was the main rationale for invading: that Iraq’s WMD programs presented a direct threat to the U.S. (by way of Al Qaeda).

        Here’s what Cheney said about nukes:

        “He’s had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.”

        • Denny Burk

          Buddy, you need to get the whole context. Throughout that interview Cheney argued that Hussein was trying to reconstitute nuclear weapons PROGRAMS. In context, that’s clearly what he meant in the truncated quote you provide. Go back and read the transcript.

          Neither Cheney nor Bush ever said that Iraq was an imminent or “direct” threat. The case the Bush administration made was that the U.S. couldn’t allow rogue states like Iraq to become potential vendors of WMD’s to terrorists.

          • buddyglass

            We’re down to semantics. Specifically what qualifies as “imminent”. I’d argue the administration’s discussion of the possibility of Iraqi WMDs falling into terrorist hands portrayed it as “imminent”. If it weren’t imminent then the justification for invasion would have been greatly diminished. That was Cheney’s whole point. This is something we need to do because, if we don’t, bad things are very likely to happen.

            • J O E B L A C K M O N

              Because I’m looking for an excuse to blame conservatives for the war in Iraq I’d argue the administration’s discussion of the possibility of Iraqi WMDs falling into terrorist hands portrayed it as “imminent”.

              Hey, buddyglass, you had left some words out of what you really meant there, so I thought I’d help you out. 🙂

      • James Stanton

        Denny, thanks for the response. The post was less about the Bush administration than it was about the media’s handling of the runup to the war.

        All the same, you don’t get to take a whole post and claim it is all part of the same revisionist history. That’s just an attempt to shut down and dismiss the argument without really addressing it.

        There was plenty of innuendo from the Bush Administration officials in the year before the war connecting Iraqi officials to 9/11 hijackers. I remember specifically that Dick Cheney mentioned often that Mohammed Atta met with one of Saddam’s officials in Prague.

        Read this article from 2003 and ask yourself why people believed that Iraq was connected to 9/11. The answer is because that’s what was being said on the television.

        I didn’t refer to specific claims but noted that the media parroted the idea that Iraq had some kind of WMDs and it was vital to launch a preventative attack on that country. Where did they get this idea from? From the administration and hawks and warmongers in both parties who exaggerated the danger Iraq posed to this country.

        The case the Bush administration made for the war was flimsy and there’s plenty of information available that indicates the administration intended a war with Iraq and pushed for that war using the weakest of evidence. The members of that administration have avoided accountability and have washed their hands of what happened in Iraq as have their supporters.

  • Bill Hickman

    Denny – how do you get from “most commentary” to “most partisan”? It doesn’t follow. Commentary can be bipartisan, and straight reporting can be partisan.

    • Patrick Duncan

      Bill, you’re right – I don’t understand where Denny gets his idea that there is even such a thing as straight reporting.

      PBS, Fox, CNN, NPR, MSNBC, ABC, I’ve watched/listened to plenty of them all and their biases definitely bleed into not only the reporting itself, but ESPECIALLY into which stories they feature. That is usually the key place bias shows up in the reporting side of news.

    • AKash Charles

      while I agree Fox is heavily biased , I see way more liberal opinions expressed on its channels than conservative opinions expressed on MSNBC and even CNN at times

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