Fox’s Hume says cable news not to blame for political polarization

November 22, 2010

Brit Hume and Alex S. Jones, Shorenstein Center director.

Brit Hume and Alex S. Jones, Shorenstein Center director.

November 22, 2010 — The Shorenstein Center hosted a special conversation with Brit Hume, senior political analyst for Fox News. Alex S. Jones, director of the Shorenstein Center, moderated the conversation.

Hume, who previously worked with Shorenstein Center Fellow Charlie Gibson at ABC News, left ABC to join the Fox News Network, and he said it was “the easiest decision I ever made.” In his work at ABC, he said he began to notice a “tilt in the coverage of news … the day-to-day diet of stories covered, and the angles from which those stories were perceived, that was to the left,” and he “saw the need for an alternative way of looking at stories.”

There are two parts to Fox News, Hume explained, “the hard news side and the opinion side.” While the distinction is clear within the network, Hume admitted, “outside it’s less clear.” He said that he would prefer a “bright line” between the two sides. Hume considers himself “part of the hard news side,” and believes that correspondents and reporters in that line of work should refrain from making campaign contributions. He said that he would “like to see more hard news,” but acknowledges that the more popular opinion programs draw higher ratings and are thus necessary to fund the news programs.

When Jones asked Hume what the role of cable news is in the country’s polarized political climate, Hume conceded that in Washington the polarization is “poisonous,” but that cable news was not to blame. “I don’t subscribe to the view that a vigorous and even an angry debate over political issues is damaging to our country,” he stated. The opinions expressed on Fox News “may have some role in shaping people’s precise thinking” about politics, but “it’s more of a reflection than the cause,” Hume concluded.

This article was written by Janell Sims and the photos taken by Leighton Walter Kille, both of the Shorenstein Center.