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While researching the answer to this Skeptics.SE question, I came across (not entirely unexpected) biased-looking-to-me content on Wikipedia articles covering Fox News channel:

  1. The main blurb of the article, as one of the only 4 paragraphs, stresses that "Fox News Channel has long been accused of promoting conservative political positions and it has been widely criticized for biased reporting".

  2. The article itself has a major section devoted to "Controversies" (which mostly boil down to #1, but in detail), but also a whole separate article titled "Fox New Channel controversies".

  3. The article has a whole section devoted to "Relationship with the Koch Brothers".

    (I'll leave aside the fact that guilt by association is listed as one of the logial fallacies by Wikipedia :)

Now, none of that is unexpected nor - in and out of itself - very objectionable or biased except #1.

However, what interests me is, is Wikipedia's treatment of Fox News biased in that it is the ONLY US cable news channel subjected to such treatment? In other words, do other cable news channels or main broadcast networks articles on Wikipedia match this?

  1. Do they have blurbs in main articles pointing to percieved political biases (for example, MSNBC or NBC itself, or New York Times, all 3 of which are just as frequently accused of political bias in the other directon as Fox News is).

  2. Do those news sources have whole sections and large articles devoted to controversies, mainly dealing with political biases?

  3. Are there sections in their articles devoted to their personnel relationship with major left wing figures, such as Soros, or left wing politicians?

I'm interested both in the current state of the articles, as well (or even more so) editing history, e.g. did someone try to introduce such equivalent statements/material and it was edited out; since the former reflects on individual contributor views and the latter more on Wikipedia's powers that be editorial policies.

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    I already assumed some Wikipediametric 2.0 thing so congratulations on the neutrally asked question. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliability_of_Wikipedia#Liberal_bias (and the following section to some extent) don't give a clear cut answer and www.conservapedia.com/Examples_of_Bias_in_Wikipedia:_Conservative_Personalities doesn't mention this. I think the best bet for the editing history would be www.wikiwatchdog.com and github.com/edsu/anon -but that creates the problem of a quite extensive list of possible IPs(GE alone has a whole /8 and I assume every edit from US government is also suspect) – user45891 Dec 25 '14 at 20:59
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    Why don't you visit Wikipedia and see for yourself? – Sam I am says Reinstate Monica Jan 26 '15 at 21:01
  • @SamIam - That comment seems applicable to 50+% questions on this site that can be answered with a simple Google query – user4012 Jan 26 '15 at 22:28
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    @DVK But it especially applies to this question, because this question itself tells you explicitly where the information can be found. – Sam I am says Reinstate Monica Jan 26 '15 at 22:31
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    Visiting Wikipedia for oneself is not a simple or trivial process. – Samuel Russell Jan 27 '15 at 1:07
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Let me begin by challenging the questions' notion of even handedness or equivocation. It establishes a false dichotomy, and in relation to journalism limits the editorial terrain to that of the political celebrities engaged in major voting blocs, rather than to the editorial direction that ought to be given in good conscience to serve the public. News outlets are expected to be fair, truthful and doggedly persistent. They're not expected to provide even handedness, though this could result accidentally from various political factions being equally repugnant or desirable.

On the question of even handedness: Necessarily, if Wikipedia is functioning correctly, no. Wikipedia has no policy on "even handedness." Relevant policies are "Neutral Point of View," "Weight," "Reliable Sourcing," and perhaps most importantly in terms of biased editorial attention "Other Stuff Exists."

NPOV: Wikipedia attempts to present "fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without bias, all of the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic." If relevant and significant views do not attend to a matter then neither should the encyclopaedia.

Weight: views are ascribed emphasis based on the quality of their sourcing. Material from places of no consequence are meant to be accorded a position of no consequence in articles.

Reliable sourcing: means both locating quality material, and a gate-keeper function for unreliable material. Views that are contained in unreliable material only are meant to excluded.

Other Stuff Exists: The (potential) failure of editors to obey policy, or to put energy, into other equivalent articles does not mean that there has been a failure of policy on a particular article. Arguing from failures of policy elsewhere is not taken in the english Wikipedia culture to condemn a well made article.

The key questions then, within english language Wikipedia policy, would be: Have editors failed in policy? Have editors failed to devote emphasis to other, equivalent, articles?

Have editors failed in policy? No. Talk:FOX News contains a header FAQ summarising consensus built over a number of Requests for comment (an en.wikipedia content dispute resolution tool). No current headers are listed on the page, and the debate on the lede is inactive as of 2014. The community of editors hasn't failed FOX News.

Have editors failed to devote emphasis to other, equivalent, articles?

I checked MSNBC, NBC itself, New York Times and CNN.

MSNBC devotes extensive time to the political editorial bias of the station. This is contained in the lede. NBC News notes primarily journalistic failings in body. NYT notes family capital control without political implication, and perceived bias in body. CNN has a limited section on journalistic failures, that leads with political bias. I would summarise these articles as "poor." They're all in need of deliberate systematic research, and most have appalling "this happened in 2012, this happened in 2013" structures.

Do they have blurbs in main articles pointing to percieved political biases

Yes, where weighty.

Do those news sources have whole sections and large articles devoted to controversies, mainly dealing with political biases?

Yes, where weighty. Most controversy sections relate to gross failures of journalistic or editorial misconduct separate from US political faction.

Are there sections in their articles devoted to their personnel relationship with major left wing figures, such as Soros, or left wing politicians?

No. However the relationship between the outlets and major individual sources of capital are noted.

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Do they have blurbs in main articles pointing to percieved political biases (for example, MSNBC or NBC itself, or New York Times?

Yes. MSNBC on Wikipedia has a large section on "criticism and controversy" including liberal bias. NBC and the NYT aren't cable news channels.

Do those news sources have whole sections and large articles devoted to controversies, mainly dealing with political biases?

Yes, see the section referenced above.

Are there sections in their articles devoted to their personnel relationship with major left wing figures, such as Soros, or left wing politicians?

Yes, see the section referenced above (namely the suspensions of personalities that were donating to political campaigns).

As for the overall question:

Is Wikipedia politically even-handed in its coverage of US cable news channels?

Based on merely these 2 isolated examples (Fox News and CNBC) one could argue they are. But it's going to be a matter of opinion. Remember Wikipedia doesn't write any articles. People do. So if you feel something is wrong, edit it.

  • +1, but I'm somewhat in disagreement on NBC or NYT being irrelevant just because they are not cable news channels (especially NBC). 99% of the people most likely has no clue what the difference is between a cable news channel and a broadcast network. – user4012 Dec 24 '14 at 18:21
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    @DVK well, you asked about cable news specifically. I don't know which % of people know what that refers to, but typically it refers to the channels that are 24/7 news. – user1530 Dec 24 '14 at 18:23
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Wikipedia's policy is to accurately reflect what books, newspapers, and other reliable sources say. If Fox News is involved in a greater number of widely covered controversies, if Fox news receives a greater amount of widely covered criticism, then the Wikipedia article is supposed to accurately reflect that. People who are politically liberal may see Wikipedia biased one way, people who are politically conservative may see Wikipedia biased a different way, but if you see mainstream Reliable Sources as biased then you can't claim Wikipedia is biased for accurately reflecting those sources. Then your claim is actually that mainstream sources are all biased.

  • Of course, this viewpoint is wonderful if "reliable sources" is defined as "overwhelmingly liberal mass media" - as is obvious from any research showing they are as much as 4:1 progressive. And it's very easy for a media person to skew things exactly the way you mention - just cover controversies on one side more than the other (how many corruprtion stories about GOP ran in 2006? How many about DNC since 2008? Where was the same "reliable" media pouncing on Herman Caine when John Edwards was running for president as a recent example). – user4012 Jun 1 '15 at 15:44
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    Studies of media coverage find equal criticism of right and left wing candidates across the entire media (though individual sources will obviously tend to have political preferences). The real issue is that this totally failed to answer the question. Yes, Wikipedia has a policy of neutrality. The question is, did it live up to that policy? – Avi Jun 1 '15 at 20:21
  • Occasionally there will be an actual bias in the media that skews the reporting one way, and when that happens, the same bias will usually propagate to Wikipedia too. – Sam I am says Reinstate Monica Jun 9 '15 at 19:07

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