Cable News Network (CNN) and Fox News are the two largest news sources in the United States. They play a critical role in many political events, leading to a strong association with either liberal or conservative viewers (Linden et al., 2020). Their comparison can reveal how popular opinions among the U.S. population are strengthened by the tendency to prefer a single channel over examining different takes on each subject. This essay will analyze Fox News and CNN to highlight their similarities in narrative functions. Both news sources are politically polarized and use similar convincing techniques in order to attract a particular audience.
Channels’ Political Parties
First of all, the apparent feature of both media outlets is their affinity toward diametrically opposite political views. CNN is known for its liberal viewer base, which results in many topics appearing biased in favor of a single party (Iacono & Cruz, 2022). A single subject can be presented in a negative light by CNN, while in right-leaning media, it would be praised. For example, the continuous negative portrayal of Donald Trump by CNN led to an overwhelming presence of articles related to him during his presidency in left-leaning media, with over 83% of all mentions stemming from these sources (Linden et al., 2020). Such a representation of opinions that is transferred to audiences further polarizes U.S. political parties. CNN has a solid platform in U.S. society with a reach for millions of households, making its statements an essential part of the political landscape in the country.
Unlike its primary competitor, Fox News leans toward conservative views and may present the same topic from an entirely different perspective. For example, this outlet has a tangible connection to the COVID-19 outbreak, as its consumption is linked with a decreased chance of abiding by lockdown policies (Hoewe et al., 2020). Such an impact on society reveals the influence that Fox News has on the followers of this political party. The right-wing opinions are apparent in Fox News articles, as this channel often promotes political preferences of Republicans, such as gun rights, through its content (Hoewe et al., 2020). It is critical to understand the influence of this media on the public discourse. Conservatives who receive their news through Fox tend to perceive police activities in a positive light and rarely side with civilians (Iacono & Cruz, 2022). Beliefs among this audience are echoed by Fox News and further divide the population into two camps. Such partisanship is indicative of diametrically opposite views on critical issues in the United States, and Fox News ensures that its viewers receive reports that they want to see.
The second key feature that must be reviewed is the persuasive techniques both news sources utilize. CNN is known for misrepresenting statistics to instill a sense of urgency in its viewers (Mehta & Guzmán, 2018). In favor of its rhetorics, this channel may appeal to its audience’s emotions rather than reason. For example, a sarcastic tone is commonly utilized in CNN’s articles regarding Republican statements on critical social issues (Al-Rawi, 2019). This tendency causes people to interpret the presented data through a fake lens that does not reflect reality. Gyamfi (2021) states that CNN’s appeal to ethos can be explicitly seen in a report that shows “a young American boy praying for his school” during a hurricane (p. 29). Such an image is bound to attract the public’s attention to the topic and increase the viewership numbers for the channel.
Fox News also has an inclination to prioritize sensationalism and emotional news pieces over factual articles. Its reports often avoid providing viewers with a complete picture by using the words “hundreds” or “thousands” when intending to highlight a subject as drastic through statistics (Mehta & Guzmán, 2018). Such an approach gives the audience a distorted image of real-life events. It is also revealed that Fox News uses the word “hate” at a higher rate than its liberal counterparts (Hoewe et al., 2020). Such negativity plays on conservatives’ emotions and gives this channel’s articles a better chance to be shared among people with strong opinions on the topic. Fox News further fuels this discord by ensuring that public personalities that do not align with its narrative are
In conclusion, Fox News and CNN focus on different political sides through their rhetoric yet utilize a similar strategy based on sensationalism and emotions to keep their viewers engaged. Political partisanship is a common aspect of both news channels, as they disproportionately target their opponents through negative depictions of their political and personal beliefs. Moreover, these two media sources have a similar approach to highlighting information that may be critical to their viewers. Both channels show a tendency to avoid showing a complete picture in favor of a narrative that suits their intended audience. Moreover, Fox News and CNN both have a goal of eliciting an emotional response in order to connect with their target populations. These questionable strategies that increase viewership numbers are widely utilized in these media outlets and create a distorted vision of reality for Americans.
Gyamfi, P. A. (2021). Comparative analysis of CNN coverage of weather-related disasters in USA, Japan, and India. Media Asia, 48(1), 21-33.
Hoewe, J., Brownell, K. C., & Wiemer, E. C. (2020). The role and impact of Fox News. The Forum, 18(3), 367-388.
Iacono, S. L., & Cruz, T. D. (2022). Hostile media perception affects news bias, but not news sharing intentions. Royal Society Open Science, 9(4).
Linden, S., Panagopoulos, C., & Roozenbeek, J. (2020). You are fake news: Political bias in perceptions of fake news. Media, Culture & Society, 42(3), 460-470.
Mehta, R., & Guzmán, L. D. (2018). Fake or visual trickery? Understanding the quantitative visual rhetoric in the news. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 10(2), 104-122.