Sarah Palin's home from home

Palin is joining Fox News. Here we give five top examples of "fair and balanced" reporting on the US

Today is a great day for broadcast journalism. Sarah Palin, ex-governor of Alaska and arguably the star of the 2008 presidential election, has signed up to work as a pundit for Fox News. You might have thought that her, I don't know, INSANITY might get in the way of her media career, but obviously it hasn't held her back so far.

In fact, a comment made by Palin on accepting the role sheds light on the calibre of the news outfit she is joining. She said:

I am thrilled to be joining the great talent and management team at Fox News. It's wonderful to be part of a place that so values fair and balanced news.

Since her comments have often shown themselves to be incredibly accurate and insightful, I thought I'd round up the top five examples of "fair and balanced news" at Fox.

1. Mr Chairman . . .

Back in July, as the News of the World phone hacking scandal was breaking, Rupert Murdoch -- proprietor of both NotW and Fox News -- went on the channel. Jon Bernstein blogged about it at the time. Did they uphold the values of fair, balanced, independent news reporting and grill their chairman with a daring disregard for their own interests? Judge for yourself:

Anchor: "Mr Chairman, sir, thanks very much for joining us. We appreciate it."
Rupert Murdoch: "Fine, good afternoon."
Anchor: "The story that's really buzzing all around the country and certainly here in New York is that the News of the World, a News Corporation newspaper in Britain, used . . ."
Rupert Murdoch: "I'm not talking about that issue at all today. Sorry."
Anchor: "OK. No worries, Mr Chairman, that's fine with me."

2. What terror attacks?

Last week, Sophie Elmhirst blogged here about Rudy Giuliani denying on ABC that any domestic terrorist attacks took place under George W Bush. But far be it from Fox to get left behind! Last week, Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi said on Fox:

One of the things the American people appreciate about the Bush administration [is], after September 11, not one time did the terrorists who tried to kill us and end our way of life, not one time were they able to attack the mainland United States again.

You guessed it -- the interviewer, Neil Cavuto, stayed shtum and did not correct this factual error (the Shoe Bomber, the LA airport attack . . . )

3. Glenn Beck

Ah, Glenn Beck. This major broadcaster at Fox News recently had the dubious honour of being named "Misinformer of the Year 2009" by the Media Matters for America website. He came to international attention in July when he said on air that Barack Obama had exposed himself "over and over again" as a person with "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture". To give Fox some credit, Brian Kilmeade tried to argue with him, saying that most of the Obama administration was white, so "you can't say he doesn't like white people". (I'm sure there are better arguments to be made, but it's the thought that counts. Sort of.) But Beck pushed ahead, arguing:

I'm not saying he doesn't like white people, I'm saying he has a problem. This guy is, I believe, a racist.

Apart from the fact that his statement doesn't make sense, it's also based on precious little evidence. But the big boss didn't mind -- Rupert Murdoch said in November: "If you actually assess what he was talking about, he was right." Great!

4. Bill O'Reilly

Another big hitter at Fox News deserves a special shout-out, too. Bill O'Reilly's chat show The O'Reilly Factor is reportedly the most watched cable "news" programme in America. He calls his show a "no-spin zone" but others beg to differ. In 2007, researchers from the Indiana University School of Journalism published a report analysing O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" segment with techniques developed by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis. It concluded that he consistently used propaganda and name-calling, and cast non-Americans as threats.

5. A stranger among us

There are some good 'uns in there. Last week, a Fox reporter, Douglas Kennedy, went mad on air on the Fox News Watch discussion show, telling the host, Jon Scott: "This intro sounds like it's written by Dick Cheney in his bunker." He then said that the panel had a right-wing slant. Kennedy's co-panellist Judith Miller objected, saying: "Wait a minute, I am very, very liberal on a lot of issues." But Kennedy was not to be silenced: "You went to jail to protect Dick Cheney, Come on!" Yeah, you tell 'em.


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Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Donald Trump vs Barack Obama: How the inauguration speeches compared

We compared the two presidents on trade, foreign affairs and climate change – so you (really, really) don't have to.

After watching Donald Trump's inaugural address, what better way to get rid of the last few dregs of hope than by comparing what he said with Barack Obama's address from 2009? 

Both thanked the previous President, with Trump calling the Obamas "magnificent", and pledged to reform Washington, but the comparison ended there. 

Here is what each of them said: 

On American jobs


The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift.  And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.  We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.  We'll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost.  We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.  And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.


For many decades we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind.

Obama had a plan for growth. Trump just blames the rest of the world...

On global warming


With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.


On the Middle East:


To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. 


We will re-enforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.

On “greatness”


In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned.


America will start winning again, winning like never before.


On trade


This is the journey we continue today.  We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth.  Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began.  Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year.  Our capacity remains undiminished.  


We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never ever let you down.

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland