Fox News likes to use the slogan 'Fair and Balanced'. In truth, there is presently no such thing as a 'fair and balanced' news network, and there probably never was. Interestingly enough, what Fox News IS is approximately 50th percentile among the American population. This is almost certainly why it's the only major news apparatus that actually turns a profit on a regular basis. It is almost exactly what you'd expect to exist if a rational profit-maximizer were to establish a news network in the US. The other major networks are around 5th-15th percentile on the rough leftist-reactionary spectrum of the US population. Even Rush Limbaugh, that hated exemplar of knuckle-draggers everywhere, is probably only around 60th or so percentile. Can you imagine a news network that took the position that the wrong side won the Civil war? Or perhaps a network that took the position that mixed-race marriages were not in general a good idea (even leaving aside any legal sanctions against such)? Or one that questioned whether diversity was a good thing? Frankly you'd only need to get to approximately the 70th percentile of the distribution in the US for such a network. Yet it seems unthinkable, doesn't it?
A network that was actually 'fair and balanced' would be even more unthinkable. Can you imagine a network that didn't engage in histogram distortion? By this I mean it makes every attempt to ensure that the frequencies with which it reports issues, groups, etc match the frequencies in the actual real world. So, for instance, if it's doing a stories about outstanding young scientists, and X% of them are white males, then it shows approximately X% as, well, white males. Similarly, on crime reporting, over or undersampling any group of perpetrators would be avoided religiously. If blacks commit X% of the homicide, they'll get X% of the homicide coverage, no more, and no less. Existing networks do a truly awful job of this, which is why a recent study where people were asked to estimate the percentage of the population that was homosexual had an average answer of about 25%. Hell, even the homosexual activists have never claimed more than a tenth, and the actual answer is closer to 2.5%. There's a decided irony here---to be truly fair and balanced on issues of identity, be that identity racial, sexual, or ethnic, you have to take an almost mathematical notice of such. Otherwise you're going to easily fall prey to the temptation to distort the histogram by ginning up highly unrepresentative numbers of 'minority scientists' and 'great White defendants' and the like. But that's what fair and balanced would actually look like. Anyone smoking anything efficacious enough to be able to believe that such a thing would ever happen on this side of a political singularity?
Raj Rajaratnam: #236 on the Forbes 400
1 hour ago