If you think Fox News really is “fair and balanced,” guess again. They’ve been the mouthpieces for the Religious Right ever since the channel began in the mid 90s, and they remain so. The lengths to which Fox News will go, in order to make the Religious Right look good even in the face of obvious facts to the contrary, are ludicrous.

Here is one example which I just came across recently.

On the heels of a metastudy — which I blogged about a little over a week ago — showing that “abstinence-only” sex education is a dismal failure and actually results in more teen pregnancies than other types — Fox News released this story a couple of days later in an attempt to show the opposite:

Study: Religious Teens More Likely to Abstain from Sex

Religious teens lose their virginity later than those who are not religious — waiting on average three years longer than their peers, a recent study reported.

Janet Rosenbaum, a post doctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, wrote in this month’s issue of “Pediatrics” that those with strong religious backgrounds became sexually active at about 21 on average — regardless if they took a pledge to remain a virgin until marriage. …

Rosenbaum told FOXNews.com she compared apples to apples. “The behavior of teenagers who have never been to church before is pretty irrelevant when understanding the behavior virginity pledgers,” she said.

Overall, religious students, regardless of whether they take virginity pledges, are more conservative than their non-religious peers. When compared against national averages, “they are having sex an average of about three years later than the average American,” Rosenbaum said.

Note that in this story, Fox News does not dispute that the taking of virginity pledges does not affect whether or not kids have sex. What they are doing is emphasizing — instead — that religious kids are less likely to have sex. Moreover, they are actually dismissing the behavior of non-church-going kids as “irrelevant” to the study.

This is an insane use of the figures in this study. The study ostensibly is examining whether “abstinence-only” sex education coupled with virginity pledges, actually works. Clearly it does not do so. What Fox is doing, here, is plucking out of these results, those kids who are not church-going. But they cannot really do that … since quite obviously these “abstinence-only” sex education programs include both church-going and non-church-going kids! You cannot measure their effectiveness by culling out a big chunk of that group!

What Fox has done, therefore, is to put a happier face on what is truly bad news for the Religious Right, by shining a light only on a tiny part of it and de-emphasizing the rest.

“Fair and balanced”? I think I’ll let “you decide.”

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