REPORT: Fox Gave DREAM Act Opponents Far More Airtime Than Supporters

››› ››› ROB SAVILLO, JUSTIN BERRIER, ERIC SCHROECK & CHELSEA RUDMAN

According to a Media Matters analysis, Fox News gave guests who oppose the DREAM Act, a bill that would provide a path to legal status for certain immigrants who came to the United States as children, more than 40 minutes of airtime from November 23 through December 6 but only about 7 minutes to supporters during that same period.

Fox Gives DREAM Act Opponents More Than 40 Minutes Of Airtime Versus About Seven Minutes For Supporters

From Nov. 23 Through Dec. 1, Fox Gave DREAM Act Opponents More Than 40 Minutes Of Airtime Versus About Seven Minutes For Supporters. Media Matters examined Fox News' coverage of the DREAM Act during all programming from November 23 through December 6. Fox News gave at least 40 minutes and 41 seconds of airtime to DREAM Act opponents while giving at least six minutes and 53 seconds to DREAM Act supporters. At least three minutes and 18 seconds of airtime were given to guests expressing no clear position. Media Matters labeled guests expressing no clear position as "Neutral."

Guests expressing opposition to the bill outnumbered those supporting the bill 18 to five -- with four expressing no clear position.

On "Straight News" Programs, 94 Percent Of Airtime Given To Guests Who Opposed The Bill. Among the DREAM Act segments featuring guests on Fox's "straight news" programs, 94 percent of total coverage among the segments counted was negative. Twenty minutes and 19 seconds out of a total of 21 minutes and 38 seconds of "straight news" coverage counted by Media Matters were devoted to guests speaking against the bill. Only 52 seconds of coverage were given to a guest who supported the bill, and 27 seconds were given to guests who were neutral.

In total, six of the guests featured on news shows were against the bill while two supported it and one was neutral.

On Opinion Programs, 70 Percent Of Airtime Given To Guests Who Opposed The Bill. Among the DREAM Act segments featuring guests on Fox's opinion programs, 70 percent of total coverage among the segments counted, was negative. Twenty minutes and 22 seconds out of a total of 29 minutes and 14 seconds of opinion show coverage counted by Media Matters were devoted to guests against the bill. Only six minutes and one second of coverage featured guests speaking in favor of the bill while two minutes and 51 seconds featured guests who who were neutral.

In total, 12 of the guests featured on the opinion programs were against the bill while three supported it and two expressed no clear position.

Methodology

Media Matters identified segments on the DREAM Act by searching for the term "Dream" in a closed captioning transcript archive for all of Fox News' programming from November 23 through December 6. Guests who expressed opposition to the DREAM Act were labeled as against the bill while those expressing support for the DREAM Act were labeled as for the bill. Guests who did not clearly express a position for or against were labeled as neutral. Multiple guest panels were recorded by taking the total time of the segment and dividing by the number of guests. All shows that run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. from Monday to Friday were identified as "news" programs in accordance with the schedule Fox gave The New York Times. All other shows were identified as "opinion" programs.

The original data is located here. Media Matters calculated the amount of time for each segment using the following criteria:

  • Segments featuring a simple interview between a single guest and a single host in which the DREAM Act was the only topic of conversation were timed from the beginning to the end of the segment, which included relevant questions or comments directed at the guest by the host.
  • Segments featuring a simple interview between a single guest and a single host in which the DREAM Act was one of multiple topics of conversation were timed from the beginning of the first sentence mentioning or referencing the Act to the end of the last sentence referencing or mentioning the Act, which included relevant questions or comments directed at the guest by the host.
  • Debates between two opposing viewpoints on the DREAM Act were timed from the beginning to the end of the segment. The time was split evenly between the two viewpoints, which included relevant questions or comments by the host.
  • Panels featuring multiple guests who spoke consecutively on the DREAM Act were timed according to the amount of time each guest spoke, which included questions or comments directed at each guest by the host.
  • Panels featuring multiple guests who spoke on multiple topics including the DREAM Act were timed from the beginning of the first sentence mentioning or referencing the Act to the end of the last sentence referencing or mentioning the Act, which included relevant questions or comments directed at them by the host.
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