Fox News now "most trusted" channel

US media politics gets even more polarised.

Fox News may rarely live up to its motto "Fair and balanced", but it can now describe itself as America's "most trusted news channel". A poll of more than 1,000 registered voters found that 49 per cent trust Fox, compared to 39 per cent for CNN and just 31 per cent for ABC.

The poll will relieve some of the pressure on the president of Fox, Roger Ailes, whose position was called into question after Rupert Murdoch's son-in-law Matthew Freud launched an extraordinary broadside against the channel. Freud told the New York Times:"I am by no means alone within the family or the company in being ashamed and sickened by Roger Ailes's horrendous and sustained disregard of the journalistic standards that News Corporation . . . aspires to."

Freud views Fox as a grotesque rebuke to the British tradition of impartial broadcasting, but in the US the station is seen as a dynamic alternative to its more staid rivals.

That Fox should be the most trusted news channel is perhaps not surprising in a country where the right-wing Tea Party Nation is the most popular political grouping. Fox has vast appeal in a nation that is now far more ideologically polarised than Europe.

And so long as this remains the case, it's likely that Barack Obama will continue to haemorrhage support.

 

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn turns "the nasty party" back on Theresa May

The Labour leader exploited Conservative splits over disability benefits.

It didn't take long for Theresa May to herald the Conservatives' Copeland by-election victory at PMQs (and one couldn't blame her). But Jeremy Corbyn swiftly brought her down to earth. The Labour leader denounced the government for "sneaking out" its decision to overrule a court judgement calling for Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) to be extended to those with severe mental health problems.

Rather than merely expressing his own outrage, Corbyn drew on that of others. He smartly quoted Tory backbencher Heidi Allen, one of the tax credit rebels, who has called on May to "think agan" and "honour" the court's rulings. The Prime Minister protested that the government was merely returning PIPs to their "original intention" and was already spending more than ever on those with mental health conditions. But Corbyn had more ammunition, denouncing Conservative policy chair George Freeman for his suggestion that those "taking pills" for anxiety aren't "really disabled". After May branded Labour "the nasty party" in her conference speech, Corbyn suggested that the Tories were once again worthy of her epithet.

May emphasised that Freeman had apologised and, as so often, warned that the "extra support" promised by Labour would be impossible without the "strong economy" guaranteed by the Conservatives. "The one thing we know about Labour is that they would bankrupt Britain," she declared. Unlike on previous occasions, Corbyn had a ready riposte, reminding the Tories that they had increased the national debt by more than every previous Labour government.

But May saved her jibe of choice for the end, recalling shadow cabinet minister Cat Smith's assertion that the Copeland result was an "incredible achivement" for her party. "I think that word actually sums up the Right Honourable Gentleman's leadership. In-cred-ible," May concluded, with a rather surreal Thatcher-esque flourish.

Yet many economists and EU experts say the same of her Brexit plan. Having repeatedly hailed the UK's "strong economy" (which has so far proved resilient), May had better hope that single market withdrawal does not wreck it. But on Brexit, as on disability benefits, it is Conservative rebels, not Corbyn, who will determine her fate.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.