Topic: The ConWeb
The ConWeb readily embraced a too-good-to-check statistic from a Pew Research Center study of the media: that 85 percent of MSNBC's airtime is devoted to "opinion."
WorldNetDaily's Drew Zahn dishonestly rounded up the number to "nearly 90 percent" -- of course, it's equally near to 80 percent, but Zahn clearly didn't want to go there. Newsmax's Bill Hoffmann asserted, "If you’re looking for straight and unbiased news reporting, you may want to avoid MSNBC."
And the number was practically made for the Media Research Center, and indeed, Brent Bozell issued a snotty press release on the subject:
“Pick any Orwellian nickname you want: the Ministry of Truth, the Department of Agitation and Propaganda, but don’t dare call MSNBC a news organization. No legitimate news outlet spends 85% of its airtime pushing leftist commentary. Pravda would be proud.
“Both CNN and Fox News have close to a 50/50 news/commentary split. We have said time and time again that MSNBC in not a news network. Their absurd 15/85 split is a vindication of every single criticism we’ve leveled against them.
“MSNBC is a deeply unserious organization and should never have been placed under the ‘news’category on any cable system’s guide. They’ve Lean[ed] Forward right off the cliff of credibility. What a farce.”
Since that number was too good to check, the ConWeb couldn't be bothered to do one simple thing: find out how Pew made this determination. Salon's Alex Pareene did:
That’s a bit of a misuse of the word “opinion,” which does not, in this case, refer to liberal punditry, but rather to all interviews and other segments that involve people talking instead of live reports or reported “packages.” That kind of programming is common because it’s cheap, and MSNBC and Fox do not actually pay many people to do “reporting” — they are cable “talking about the news” channels, basically. But don’t assume reported pieces are intrinsically superior to commentary. Some of that “opinion” programming is informative and useful in a way that live shots of, say, poop boats are decidedly not. And some of that programming is “Morning Joe,” the talking head equivalent of a poop boat.
It also overlooks the fact that, even though Pew gives Fox News credit for 45 percent of its content being "factual reporting," that does not equal unbiased reporting. Fox's ostensible "news" anchors are prone to spouting biased opinions, and it has a history of shortchanging the Obama administration on airtime.
But thte ConWeb doesn't care about facts, not when it has an official-sounding number.