The LATimes’ James Rainey takes Fox News to task for their lack of primetime coverage of the earthquake in Haiti in the early going, while praising CNN for its “determination to stick with the news.”
When critics accuse Fox of being a tool of the conservative political movement, the company’s executives counter that they deliver serious news during much of the day. But its prime-time headliners expose the values of the entire operation, and this week they’ve given abysmally short shrift to the biggest crisis in the world. Why dwell on one of our closest hemispheric neighbors in its hour of dire need, when — like both Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck — you can conduct prolonged, frothy promotional interviews with Fox’s newest contributor, Sarah Palin?
Fox News EVP of programming Bill Shine counters, telling TVNewser, “I think Fox News Channel is doing a brilliant job. Our correspondents are second-to-none. At the same time there’s 10% unemployment, there’s a healthcare bill that’s going to be passed by Congress affecting every American, and all of a sudden there’s a close senate race in Massachusetts.”
Shine says the primetime shows of O’Reilly and Hannity have covered and will continue to cover the story — just not wall-to-wall. O’Reilly spent about a quarter of his show on the topic last night. The network’s 10pmET host Greta Van Susteren tried unsuccessfully to get into the country yesterday. And Geraldo Rivera is now on his way for weekend coverage. Shine says Fox News Channel will increase the number of live hours this weekend to cover the situation in Haiti.
In his story, Rainey adds, “Fox’s lack of focus on the subject during its most popular programs was not for a lack of resources. A moneymaking juggernaut, the cable giant had about 20 employees in Haiti by midweek, nine of them on-air personalities.”
So why the criticism? “Because we’re #1,” says Shine. “As I’ve said before, the primetime on this channel tends to be an op-ed page. We cover the news and give out some opinions.” Shine says look no further than today’s New York Times for an idea of what the channel does. “If you look at today’s opinion page, the lead op-ed is on bank bonuses. The second one happens to be on Haiti.”
• Related: FNC’s Bill Hemmer in Haiti: “If Your Heart Doesn’t Break for Them, You Don’t Have a Heartbeat.”