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Parsons: Fox News Offers ‘Crazy People’

8/06/2004 9:48 AM Eastern

Washington -- Time Warner Inc. chairman and CEO Richard Parsons said Friday that Cable News Network reports the news, while Fox News Channel offers a TV version of talk radio that allows viewers to watch “crazy people.”

Fox News -- the self-described “Fair and Balanced” news outlet, which many consider slanted to the political right -- has been beating CNN in the ratings. But Parsons said CNN draws more viewers in a typical news cycle.

“Fox News is what I call talk radio brought to television. It’s talk TV,” Parsons said. “CNN still gets far more viewers.”

He went on to say that Fox News gets better ratings than CNN because Fox News’ viewers stick with the channel for longer periods of time.

“Fox has a different format. They are sort of chat, a place where people kind of come and sit down for an hour or two to listen to crazy people exchange views,” he added. “They get fewer viewers, but they view much longer and their ratings are better.”

A Fox News spokeswoman did not return a reporter’s call for comment.

Parsons said CNN gets tagged with the liberal label because its reporters challenge the status quo.

“CNN, I think, is viewed as liberal, because -- this is my own personal perspective -- I think journalists are generally viewed as being liberal,” he added. “Journalists as a group tend to want to challenge the establishment, they tend to want to look under the covers and reveal the things the establishment doesn’t want to be revealed.”

Parsons’ comments came in a discussion with Univision news anchor Jorge Ramos at a convention of minority journalists called UNITY: Journalists of Color Inc. President Bush addressed the same group Friday morning, appearing one day after Democratic Party presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

Parsons, one of the most powerful African-American executives in the country, said that although about 30% of Time Warner’s 80,000 employees are minorities, they are underrepresented at high levels within the corporation.

CNN and other Time Warner media properties have to do a better job of advancing the careers of minorities, he added.

“I think we have the finest newsgathering and news-reporting organization in the world in CNN,” Parson said. “It’s the most trusted name in news around the world, but it ain’t perfect. Just like the rest of our company, we have a ways still to go.”

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