I spoke at a recent town hall forum. The many issues discussed included the Obama administration's attack on Fox News. Later, one of the audience members came up to me and sneered, "Well, even you must admit that Fox News is biased in favor of Republicans."
Separate the opinion guys from the news deliverers. Does Fox focus on stuff that the others -- MSNBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS -- do not? Yes. Is that stuff more critical of liberals and less critical of conservatives? Yes.
The best gauge is who watches these stations. Fox News Channel, as a percentage of viewers, includes more self-described libs and indies than CNN or MSNBC includes self-described conservatives and indies. Pew Research Center recently studied the cable channels' viewers' politics. CNN? Fifty-one percent liberal, 23 percent independent and 18 percent conservative. MSNBC? Forty-five percent liberal, 27 percent independent and 18 percent conservative. Don't know about the "fair" part, but Fox's audience was the most "balanced," with 39 percent conservatives, 33 percent liberals and 22 percent independents.
I know from my appearances that the audiences differ -- at least as to the e-mail I receive.
When I appear on Fox, as I did to promote my latest book, "What's Race Got to Do with It," I get mostly approving e-mail. When I get one that disagrees, the writer points out -- using facts, information or analogies -- what, in his or her opinion, undermines my position. But when I appear on Wolf Blitzer's CNN show -- oh, man! Hundreds of hostile e-mails accuse me of everything but the Lincoln assassination. Only rarely, such as when someone took exception to the book's premise -- that white racism no longer poses a potent or even significant factor in America -- does anyone argue intelligently, with facts or information. It's snarl, attack, name-call.
On a recent appearance on Ed Schultz's MSNBC show, I opposed Obamacare -- or tried to, given the host's interruptions. The e-mails I received were unprintable.