MSNBC and FOX News lacking in the “fair and balanced” department

In a recent Public Policy Polling survey of 1,151 registered voters, 49 percent, the highest for any network, stated that they trust FOX News. That’s 10 percent higher than CNN, the network that calls itself “the most trusted name in news.”

Overall, these numbers are quite scary. If more Americans think that FOX News offers the most credible information, then we are truly on our way to hell in a hand basket.

The results from the poll are part of a troubling trend. Opinionated news anchors now dominate all of cable news. FOX, the leader in all of this, became the most watched cable news channel by building its afternoon and primetime lineups around conservative pundits, like Bill O’Reilly, who deliver softball questions to like-minded politicians while mercilessly belittling and demeaning guests who disagree with their opinions. The network does have some hard news programs, but they have far less viewers than shows like “The Glenn Beck Program.”

By orienting its programming around one-sided opinion spitters, FOX traded journalistic integrity for ratings, ad revenue and political influence. Rather than focusing on presenting hard news to viewers, they, like third place MSNBC, decided to distort the news daily with hyper-partisan invective.

As bloggers and other new media continue to transform journalism, CNN has made it its duty to continue presenting the news with little bias. The network quickly shifted from political coverage and deployed its resources to Haiti in the early hours of the earthquake so that it could present nonstop coverage of human life tragically affected by a natural disaster. CNN’s spectacular coverage allowed viewers to witness courageous rescues as the world put its focus on the island nation.

Continuing with its emphasis on hard news, CNN provided a full spectrum of analysis by including many journalists, pundits and anchors in its coverage of the State of the Union address. The three components allowed for a vigorous debate and a better understanding of President Barack Obama’s address, its political intent and its possible effects. MSNBC continued its biased approach by allowing its partisan anchors Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann to host the event.

Both MSNBC and FOX can stop this awful trend by returning the news to its rightful place as an institution that serves the people by providing unfiltered information so that voters and viewers can make their own decisions about politics. The sooner this happens, the less hostile politics will be, and the sooner we will actually see results in Washington.

Bennett Parsons is a junior music education major from Arlington.