Hopeless: Fox News stands virtually alone in not airing Haiti benefit concert

››› ››› GREG LEWIS & BROOKE OBIE

On January 22, a wide variety of broadcast, cable, radio, and internet outlets, including CNN and MSNBC, preempted their regularly scheduled prime-time programming and aired Hope for Haiti Now, a benefit concert and telethon to raise funds for Haiti earthquake relief. But even after receiving criticism for giving little coverage to the devastating earthquake in Haiti on its top-rated programs, Fox News did not preempt its programming and air the benefit concert, instead broadcasting regular editions of The O'Reilly Factor and Hannity.

CNN, MSNBC, and others carry Hope for Haiti Now -- but not Fox News

CNN, MSNBC preempt prime time schedule to air MTV Network's Hope for Haiti Now. On January 22, numerous media outlets aired MTV Networks' Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief, a telethon and concert "to raise funds for Haiti after last week's devastating earthquake." Beginning at 8 p.m. ET, CNN and MSNBC preempted their usual prime time coverage to air the special. According to MTV, the following media outlets also carried the benefit:

"Hope for Haiti Now" will air across ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN, BET, The CW, HBO, MTV, VH1, CMT, PBS, TNT, Showtime, Comedy Central, Bravo, E! Entertainment, National Geographic Channel, Oxygen, G4, CENTRIC, Current TV, Fuse, MLB Network, EPIX, Palladia, SoapNet, Style, Discovery Health, Planet Green, CNN en Español, HBO Latino and Canadian networks, including CBC Television, CTV, Global Television and MuchMusic. The event will be live streamed online globally across sites including YouTube, Hulu, MySpace, Fancast, AOL, MSN.com, Yahoo, Bing.com, BET.com, CNN.com, MTV.com, VH1.com and Rhapsody, and on mobile via Alltel, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and FloTV. "Hope for Haiti Now" will also air internationally on BET International, CNN International, National Geographic and MTV Networks International, which is available in 640 million homes worldwide. "Hope for Haiti Now" will be available non-exclusively to all terrestrial radio stations around the globe and SIRIUS XM Radio as a one-time-only radio broadcast via the MTV Radio Network and Westwood One.

MTV's press release stated of Hope for Haiti Now's proceeds:

"Hope for Haiti Now" will benefit Oxfam America, Partners in Health, the Red Cross, UNICEF, United Nations World Food Programme, Yele Haiti Foundation and the newly formed Clinton Bush Haiti Foundation. Proceeds from the telethon will be split among each organization's individual funds for Haiti earthquake relief. With the exception of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, each partner organization was selected for its history of operation and collaboration within the NGO community in Haiti.

Fox News airs regular broadcasts of The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity. During its 8 and 9 p.m. ET hours, while CNN and MSNBC pre-empted their programming to air the benefit, Fox News aired its regularly scheduled broadcasts of The O'Reilly Factor and Hannity. On his program, Bill O'Reilly aired segments about Sarah and Bristol Palin's "body language" during their Oprah interview, an interview with Glenn Beck about his first year at Fox News, and a segment on the "collapse" of the "far left media." Similarly, Hannity's broadcast included an interview with Karl Rove on the Obama administration's approval ratings and health care reform, as well as a segment on the Democratic Party's reaction to Scott Brown's election.

Top Fox programs devoted far less coverage to Haiti earthquake than MSNBC

Day after earthquake, MSNBC's top programs devoted significantly more time to earthquake than Fox's. On January 13, Fox News' three top-rated programs for 2009 -- The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity, and Glenn Beck -- devoted a combined total of less than 7 minutes of coverage to the earthquake in Haiti, instead choosing to air such things as Beck's hour-long interview with Sarah Palin, Bill O'Reilly's discussion of Comedy Central host Jon Stewart, and Sean Hannity's advocacy for Massachusetts candidate Scott Brown's Senate campaign. By contrast, the content of MSNBC's three top-rated shows underscored the significance of the Haiti disaster; Countdown, The Rachel Maddow Show, and Hardball devoted a total of more than two hours to the earthquake.

After criticism, Fox still devoted scant coverage to Haiti. After receiving criticism for giving little coverage to the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Fox News' three top-rated programs for 2009 devoted scant coverage to the disaster for a second night on January 14 -- a combined total of 20 minutes and 40 seconds on January 14 -- while MSNBC's three top-rated shows devoted more than an hour and 45 minutes to discussing Haiti. The vast majority of the coverage on Fox's top-rated shows aired on The O'Reilly Factor; Beck's and Hannity's shows each aired less than four minutes of coverage of the disaster.

O'Reilly lashes out at Media Matters, LA Times' Rainey over criticism of Fox's Haiti coverage. On the January 18 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly attacked those who had criticized his coverage of Haiti -- including Media Matters and Los Angeles Times writer James Rainey -- adding: "By the way, Fox News, our coverage on Haiti has been terrific. Our correspondents have been great."

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