In Fox's fight for acceptance as a mainstream source of news it could be said that the positioning that has hindered it has come from founder Rupert Murdoch. Fair or not, Fox is perceived as having a right-wind bias. C.E.O. Roger Ailes says, "In most news, if you hear a conservative point of view, that's called bias. We believe if you eliminate such a viewpoint, that's bias. If we look conservative, it's because the other guys are so far to the left. So if we include conservatives in our promos sometimes, well tough luck!" Fox says it has been able to gain market share on its competitor, MSNBC in audience, and nipping at CNN's heels by occupying a unique place in the television landscape: giving voice to conservative commentators and heavily covering conservative issues ignored by other television outlets.
Fox's viewers typically live in the "red" states. On average they're 57-year-olds who make $57,880 a year, the highest income of any viewership except CNBC. These viewers consider themselves religious. According to Murdoch, "This is a large and loyal audience, coverage was becoming more and more biased, and people were starved, starved for an alternative."
This bias was said to be evident during the 2000 presidential campaign. When Al Gore announced Joseph Lieberman as his running mate, Mr. Lieberman made the rounds to all of the various television news outlets except Fox News. Fox was told by a campaign spokesman that it had been left out of the loop because it had "a certain editorial predisposition and because of that you will sometimes be left out." It was said that Fox was harder on Mr. Gore during the campaign than on Mr. Bush but that wasn't necessarily the case. This bias was not evident when Fox News was the channel that broke that Bush D.U.I. story. The next day Bush gave his one and only interview to Fox News and this was his final sit-down before Election Day.
Fox's competitors were quick to point out that the channel's ratings were much higher during the Republican National Convention than they were during the Democratic National Convention, making a case that it was more popular among Republicans than it was Democrats. Mr. Ailes feels that using the convention ratings to gauge its political disposition is revealing in itself. He said, "if it is going to be noted that the Fox News Channel drew a larger audience during the Republican convention that it did during the Democratic Convention, then it should also be noted that CNN drew a larger audience during the Democratic convention than it did during the Republican convention."
Whether there has been a bias or not, Fox has made a leap in political access. Most of the television sets in the Bush White House are tuned to Fox; it is the network of choice in this administration. In May 2001, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleisher said that "when the EP-3 crew returned for China, and the president and vice president were having lunch, Fox News was the network they were watching!"