I defend Fox News because these claims about it are lies. It does not, and never has, depicted Obama as "foreign" or "just short of a terrorist," though of course the job of good news companies is to be "suspicious" of politicians.
Where it gives a fig leaf to shallow apologists is that it doesn't come out and say so. Instead it uses the same technique that Bush II used to convince a majority of Republicans that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11--he didn't say it. But every time he mentioned 9/11 he mentioned Saddam Hussein.
Most people are associative thinkers, and the juxtaposition is enough.
On Fox News, we have to differentiate between the programs that present themselves as news programs and the ones that present themselves as opinion ones. On the opnion ones the Satanification of Obama is blatant, characterized by GOP shills like Sean Hannity in his fawning interviews of right wing demagogues, where, instead of challinging their outrageous and unsubstantiated lies, eggs them on.
The supposed news programs are more subtle. That's where they present this guy said / but that other guy said juxtapositions--as if both points of view have equal merit--supported by the lack of any fact checking of the competing claims. Some reporters, like the host of Fox Sunday, make a stab at actual probing questions, but even there they lean right, and right against Obama.
I could teach a class in news bias using just Fox News on the right and, say, Pacifica Radio on the left.
I will acknowledge that I see a distinct leftward tilt at MSNBC programs like Rachel Maddow's--where, as on Fox, the hosts presume agreement of the viewers, such that many assertions are taken as a given. CNN generally stays balanced, however, after having gotten rid of both Dobbs and Sanchez. NPR/PBS do well nationally--programs like Washington Week in Review are scrupulously nonpartisan, while Inside Washington and several others give both parties substantial air time and the opportunity to rebut each other, with hosts that do their job instead of just sitting there or siding with one side or the other.
But Fox stands out for pandering to far right self-styled conservatives.
I see right wingers making legalistic defenses of their propaganda campaigns all the time, and it always takes the form of David Marshall's "Who me?" argument--that is, if the bias doesn't take the form of explicit statements, there is no bias--none whatsoever.
Apparently such people never learned terms like "innuendo" "false equivalence" and "framing."
For the details substantiating my claims here, read George Lakoff's The Political Mind: A Cognitive Scientist's Guide to Your Brain and Its Politics, and The Republican Noise Machine : Right-Wing Media and How It Corrupts Democracy, written by a repentent elf in the anti-Santa's factory.
This is one area where my BA in Sociology comes in handy all the time. I was trained to spot slanted reporting of any sort. In college the commies I knew told me I'd believe the news until I was actually at the place being reported on. They were right. During the free speech movement in the '60s, at UCLA, I'd attend a rally where only one of the speakers was a screamer and 1% of the audience had beards. Guess what I'd see on the TV news that night?
Now in that case it wasn't so much due to right wing bias on the part of the media as sensationalistic bias--something partisans frequently miss. News organizations are considered profit centers by the multinationals that own nearly all the media today. And their watchword isn't "slant news to help one side" it's "If it bleeds it leads; if it thinks it stinks."
Which is why I mainly watch NPR.
Which is why the Republicans want to kill it--not because it's left wing, which it is not (despite some lamentable lapses like firing that commentator recently, and a tendency to get weepy over illegal immigrants)--but because it isn't right wing, which it is. Not.