Cable news is known for its bias toward conflict and sensationalism. There’s nothing that gets viewers to tune in more than exaggerated reports of the latest near-attack by a shark — or, for that matter, a hurricane. And the most intrepid cable newshands can sneak the message of fear into otherwise seemingly innocuous bits of programming.

Today’s example is “Fox and Friends” Brian Kilmeades’ introduction to co-anchor Laura Green’s roundup of the morning’s headlines:

“Lauren Green has been tracking all the day’s headlines in this non-stop war on terror.

Well, no, actually she hasn’t been — and won’t be.

Green’s lead story: Fourteen people hurt in a Baltimore bus accident. Presumed culprit: wet roads caused by early morning rain. No terrorist activity reported.

The second story: Union bankrupt as the AFL-CIO dissolves. No terrorist activity reported.

Third story: U.S. and North Korean officials meet in Beijing to discuss North Korea’s nuclear program. No terrorist activity reported.

Fourth Story: Minivan blows up at Baghdad checkpoint killing 12 people. Another blast at an Iraqi police station kills 2 people. Culprits: unidentified by Fox. Iraqi insurgents assumed.

Fifth Story: Supreme Court nominee Roberts scheduled to meet with Senate Judiciary Committee. No terrorist activity reported.

Sixth Story: Lance Armstrong wins Tour de France again, retires. No terrorist activity reported.

Six stories. Only one that involves war or violence, and that one is less about “the war on terror” than it is about continued offensives by terrorists.

Over the past few weeks the headlines have been dominated by terrorist attacks in London and Egypt. Sometimes, though, there is other news that has nothing to do with bombs and hatred. It’s okay to talk about it without instilling fear. The war on terror will still be there, Fox, and people won’t forget to be afraid.

At least not as long as you keep up the never-ending update on the color-coded security level scrolling across the bottom of the screen, whatever the news or lack of it.

Thomas Lang

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Thomas Lang was a writer at CJR Daily.