American Magazine Conference 2007

Former White House Spokesman: Press Is Biased, Except Fox

Tony Snow Opens Magazine Conference With Finger Wag at New Media

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BOCA RATON, Fla. (AdAge.com) -- Former White House spokesman Tony Snow helped open this year's American Magazine Conference last night by describing "fairness problems" with the press but defending the Fox News Channel against charges of bias.
Tony Snow
Tony Snow Credit: Doug Goodman

'Fairness problems'
In an on-stage interview with People magazine's managing editor, Larry Hackett, Mr. Snow said President likes reporters and doesn't speak ill of them even in private.

"I will tell you," he added, "there are fairness problems with the press."

A big chunk of the trouble, in Mr. Snow's analysis, stems from traditional media's intensifying battle with the norms and powers of new media. The instant nature of internet reporting has made good reporters desperate to file stories quickly -- without the benefit of much time for thoughtful consideration, getting context or other elements of good journalism.

"People are trying to keep up with the electronic media," Mr. Snow said. "The rat-tat-tat is winning."

No slant at Fox
The Democrats' long hold on Congress before the "Republican Revolution" of 1994 also trained reporters to cultivate sources and relationships among those in power -- meaning Democrats, Mr. Snow said. When Republicans did win control of Congress, he said, reporters were intimately familiar with liberal arguments but knew only shallow caricatures of conservative views.

"I do think there's bias in the press," Mr. Snow said.

Fox News, however, gets slammed for a rightward bias mostly because it doesn't present conservatives as Neanderthals, according to Mr. Snow, himself a former Fox News host. "The rap on Fox having bias is an unfair one," he said.

On another subject, Mr. Snow predicted the next president will be active in Iraq, although the situation there will have improved by that time.
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