Brit Hume Talks About the Success and Uniqueness of Fox News

Brit Hume, C-SPAN Q&A | NewsBusters.orgWhen the Bush administration reported that 15 of 18 political benchmarks set for Iraq had been met, which is nearly twice as many that were met last year, only Fox News reported on the story. And during his July 2 report, Brit Hume predicted that the story wouldn’t gain much traction elsewhere:

I suspect that this broadcast tonight -- and maybe some others on this channel -- are the only ones who are going to make a headline out of this. This is not going to be a big story elsewhere.

As Hume predicted, CBS’s “Evening News,” NBC’s “Nightly News” and ABC's “World News Tonight” did not mention the story in their broadcasts that night.

Hume raised the matter again when he appeared on the July 20 edition of C-SPAN’s “Q&A,” where he claimed that he was attracted to the network because he would be able to pick up on stories like this that other news outlets would ignore:

[Fox News has] opportunities to do stories legitimately in a different way. They’re all around. Or the opportunities to do stories that others aren’t interested in.

We had a wonderful example just last week, when the report came out from the administration, which the administration didn’t produce with any fanfare to Congress that said now that 15 of the 18 political benchmarks were showing satisfactory progress in Iraq. And you say, well, that’s just the administration. Well, maybe so, but a year earlier the same administration had said that satisfactory progress had been made only 8 of 18. Something had obviously happened. And we – our reporting over there had sort of indicated this. And there had been a lot of individual reports on this and that that happened. But here it was all in one place. That’s a big story. We’ve made it a big story. I led my broadcast with it. And it was virtually ignored everywhere else. Everywhere else.

So, I’m thinking, great. And so, that was what – the opportunity to do that kind of thing was what drew me to Fox News.

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Now, can anyone, Geneva Overholser or anyone else seriously argue to me that when a report comes out from an administration that a year ago said that progress – satisfactory progress was being made on half of these political benchmarks, which had been so much at the center of the debate, and a year later comes along and reports more than twice as much, that that isn’t news? Of course, it’s news by any reasonable, fair-minded standard. Our colleagues neglect such stories with some regularity, providing us a competitive opportunity. We pickup on stories like this. Now, we’re perfectly willing to report that somebody said that the benchmarks are not – they’re not being met.

Responding to claims by other journalists that Fox News does its reporting with a slanted viewpoint, Hume had interesting insight as to the ability of journalists to be truly objective:

None of us is objective. You can’t be objective. But what you can try to be is fair.

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You’re a sentient, thinking, human being. You’re going to have views in reaction to things. But I’ll say this about it. I believe that fairness begins with an awareness that no, you’re not objective. And it is your professional duty and responsibility to be aware of that. And to carry that with you into the work that you do so that you can be fair.

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You can think if you go to a hearing and you think that the politician whose running the hearing is obstreperous personality, whether it’s Phil Graham or Barney Frank, that you think, I got to be careful here.

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We as journalists are or should be professionally trained to do that as well. To go out and assess a story based on its news value and to order it and prioritize what we see in such a way as to reflect news values and report it that way.

Click here to read the full transcript or watch the show.