Stu Bykofsky: Olbermann fair? O’Reilly balanced?

Stu Bykofsky


 As reported by Romenesko in Poynter online, Stu Bykofsky, Philadelphia Daily News, decided to check out Fox News and MSNBC to test whether the point of view presented is fair and balanced or as one-sided as it is often said to be.   

For a week, the columnist recorded and watched two television shows that lead Fox’s and MSNBC’s prime-time viewing segment. “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox is believed to be right-leaning while “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” representing left-leaning MSNBC, is typical of the partisan point of view of the network.   

Bykofsky scored each guest on these programs as either left, right, or neutral. Bykofsky found that more conflicting opinions were heard on “The O’Reilly Factor” than on “Countdown” He lists the guests on each program for each night and why they scored left or right in his opinion for the particular show that he observed. Guests were as varied as Muslim Ahmed Rehab, the Chicago executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations and Huffington Post’s grand dame, Arianna Huffington.
“The O’Reilly Factor” welcomed 20 guests from the right, 11 from the left and seven who were neutral. “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” had 20 guests from the left, two neutral and not a single voice of dissent. The O’Reilly Factor” does present opposing viewpoints, says Bykofsky, although O’Reilly will cut them off in midsentence.   

Regarding Olbermann and O’Reilly, Bykofsky concludes that “Both are narcissists who take themselves too seriously, but that’s true for many on television.” Regarding interview style, Bykofsky observed, that O’Reilly uses a really clever method. After stating his opinion, he asks guests “Tell me where I’m wrong.” Olbermann, on the other hand, has guests who agree with and amplify his opinion.   

When it comes to their sources of news, too many Americans are protected from contrary views. “We’d do better; learn a bit more, by listening to some opposing ideas,” concluded Bykofsky.   

While not a scientific poll, the article is a point-of-view that offers supporting evidence and is an interested read with unexpected findings.   

Stu Bykofsky is an NSNC member and Past Conference Chair of NSNC. Read the entire article on    


EDITOR’S NOTE:  This article was written prior to the suspension of Olbermann by MSNBC for questionable campaign contributions and is not intended as commentary on this later development.

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  1 comment for “Stu Bykofsky: Olbermann fair? O’Reilly balanced?

  1. November 8, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Good work, Stu.
    Incidentally, Olbermann’s “indefinite” suspension lasted a whole two days.

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