Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes’ Fox News kicked off a six-city tour on Monday to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the News Corp. property. The network's mega-stars such as Bill O’Reilly, Shep Smith, Sean Hannity, Neil Caputo and Greta Van Susteren will be broadcasting live during the next month from locales such as Las Vegas, Boston, Chicago and Phoenix.
Amid the fanfare, the Pew Research Center today released a “state of the media” survey, showing a sharp increase in media partisanship since 1986. Pew found that the percentage of people who believe the media “tend to favor one side” rose from 59 percent in 1986, the dawn of Fox, to 77 percent last year.
Those who say media are “politically biased in their reporting” jumped 45 percent to 63 percent in that same period. Respondents who believe the media is “highly professional” crashed to 57 percent from 71 percent in 1986.
For the first time, Pew found that as many respondents say news organizations hurt democracy (42 percent) as protect it (42 percent). That’s a far cry when Fox News was just a twinkle in the eyes of Rupe and Roger. In 1986, 58 percent of those surveyed believed the media protected democracy and only 18 percent said they hurt it.
Of course, it could be just a coincidence that Pew’s results about increased partisanship and hurting democracy parallel the rise in the “fair and balanced” network. It really, really, really could be just a big coincidence.