Skip to comments.What Liberals Still Donít Understand About Fox News
Posted on 05/26/2015 1:30:05 PM PDT by nickcarraway
Annd it came to pass that the earth turned and another campaign season spun into view and the liberal commentariat rose from its siesta to begin its usual moping about the perverse political powers wielded by the Fox News Channel.
This time, the sentinel waking the commentariat to the alleged Fox menace is not a liberal but a self-described conservative, Bruce Bartlett. Bartlett, a prolific writer on politics and economics who has worked for congressional Republicans (Ron Paul and Jack Kemp), Republican presidents, (Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush) and conservative and libertarian policy shops, broke with his party a decade ago when he leveled President George W. Bush as an opportunistic pork-barreller in his book Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy. Bartlett recently added a media component to his critique in a paper titled How Fox News Changed American Media and Political Dynamics, which has heated the blood of liberals to the boiling point, including the Atlantics James Fallows and Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo, the Huffington Post and other outriders of liberalism.
Fox News isnt just bad for America, which is the usual liberal complaint. Its also bad for the Republican Party, the still-conservative Bartlett holds, because it has stunted the GOPs growth with a news agenda that ships misinformation to the partys far-right base. This is the so-called Fox echo chamber effect youve read so much about in ThinkProgress, the New Republic, Slate, The Week, Nicholas Kristofs column and the Atlantic. According to chamber theorists, Fox breeds extremism within the Republican Party by (1) convincing viewers to reject other news feeds as biased and (2) to partake only of Fox content and like-minded conservative radio fodder. The echo chamber, so the theory goes, has deluded the party into thinking that support for its radical-right views is greater than it really is. This, in turn, has convinced the party to run radical candidates who arent as electable as they seem to be. And all this extremism prevents the GOPs presidential candidates from reaching centrist voters, who are essential for victory.
Fallows condenses the Bartlett message thusly: When will Republicans who care about winning national elections, or actually governing, stop thinking of Fox as a help and start viewing it as a hindrance, and what will happen when they do?
But Fox in its current incarnation is neither a help nor a hindrance. Fox Newsand its Svengali Roger Ailesarent the Republican kingmakers theyre made out to be. I explored this point last month, noting that the network is better at employing presidential candidates than electing them. Whatever ambitions Ailes and Fox chief Rupert Murdoch may have to elect a presidentin 2012, Ailes had his heart broken by Chris Christie and David Petraeus, both of whom declined his invitation to runtheir first priority has always been to make money, which Fox News does, clearing a reported $1.2 billion a year. If you think of Fox News as a news-entertainment hybrid designed to make money, its combative programming style begins to make more sense.
Like many Fox critics, Bartlett inflates the networks power. Foxs most popular program, The OReilly Factor, pulls in about 3.3 million viewers on its best nights. In a country whose voting-age population exceeds 234 million, 3.3 million aint squat. Whats more, the OReilly/Fox audiences arent even uniformly Republican! According to a Pew survey from 2012, 45 percent of OReilly viewers (and 55 percent of Fox viewers) self-identify as independent or Democrat, which means many of the eyes and ears absorbing the Fox message are only tangentially connected to Republican politics. Its comic to think of Democratic and independent Fox viewers pushing the Republican Party further to the right.
The Republican Party had been fielding Foxy presidential candidates for decades before the networks 1996 launch, such as Barry Goldwater in 1964 and Richard Nixon in 1968 (Ailes, by the way, was his media consultant), which suggests that the network isnt leading the right-wing parade but has only positioned itself at the front of the procession. Another Foxy candidate on the 1968 general election ballot was George Wallace, who collected 13.5 percent of the presidential vote as a third-party candidate. Wallace traversed the sort of outré political frontiers that have become Fox territory. His politics make the Tea Partys look like a very weak brew. To suggest that Fox alone pushed the GOP in the direction of radicalism is to ignore the political history that followed: After wounding Gerald Ford in the 1976 presidential campaign, Reagan completed the reset of the GOP as an ideologically driven conservative party in 1980, and there it has largely remained. (Also unexplored by Bartlett is that the Republican Party, allegedly radicalized by Fox to the point that it cant attract centrists, has built majorities in both the House and Senate. If this is failure, the Republicans probably dont covet success.)
One thing Bartlett gets absolutely right in his critique is how Fox seized on the repeal of government censorship of the airwaves (also known as the Fairness Doctrine and the equal-time rule) to create a news outlet that would cater to the countrys underserved conservative audience. You dont have to be a Fox fan to credit the network with reintroducing ideological competition to the news business, which began to fade at the midpoint of the 20th century.
The reliably liberal Frank Rich appreciates better than most Foxs essential harmlessness. In a piece published last year in New York, he concluded that aside from infuriating liberals, Fox flexes little political power. The median age of a Fox viewer is 68, eight years older than the MSBNC and CNN median age, and its median age is rising. Fox is in essence a retirement community, Rich writes, and a small one at that! The million or so viewers who remain fiercely loyal to the network are not, for the most part, and as some liberals still imagine, naïve swing voters who stumble onto Fox News under the delusion its a bona fide news channel and then are brainwashed by Ailess talking points into becoming climate-change deniers, he writes.
In a much quoted television interview five years ago, conservative Republican David Frum said, Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us and now were discovering we work for Fox. Bartlett repeats Frum's quip as his papers kicker. But catchy as the Frum line remains, its just not true. The Fox tail does not wag the Republican dog.
Lot of jealousy in that piece.
Liberals can’t wrap their pointy heads around the idea that at least half the people in America don’t want what they are selling. Therefore these Americans must be, just have to be, under the influence of Fox News, Rush, etc.
“fair and balanced” instead of “factual and true”
Fox isn’t reporting news.
The idea that women can be very attractive and wear short, form-fitting dresses, and this does NOT make them stupid.
When we have lost Bruce Bartlett, we’ve lost the war!(/sarc)
SEPERATIST GEORGE WALLACE as well as KKK-KLEAGLE ROBERT BYRD were DEMOCRATS you Fool !!
They’re reporting more news than the liberal media, even with the liberal spin having crept in by degrees over the past decade.
Fox News needs to cover the stories Bartlett complains about as a “loss leader” to suck in grassroots conservatives to lead them to the puff piece interviews with RINO politicians, spokesmen etc. so Fox can serve its purpose of helping the GOPe keep the grassroots behind its agenda and candidates.
The founder of Fox News (Roger Ailes) worked for RIchard Nixon. Nixon used Pat Buchanan and William Safire to write powerful conservative speeches for delivery by Nixon’s one man “Fox News” Vice President Spiro Agnew.
Agnew talked against liberals and the liberal media to keep the grassroots behind Nixon while he cut deals with Communists in China, the Soviet Union and Vietnam, signed off on EPA and OSHA and did other liberal things.
So many comments “awaiting moderation”. The libs are really trying to shut down dissent over there.
“The echo chamber, so the theory goes, has deluded the party into thinking that support for its radical-right views is greater than it really is. This, in turn, has convinced the party to run radical candidates who arent as electable as they seem to be.”
Oh really? Who controls both chambers of Congress again? I forget...
Liberals don’t want to “understand” FOX News. They want to destroy it.
Democrats control both chambers of commerce. Nothing has passed in 2015 without at least 93% Democrat votes.
That they are the only major TV news source that even comes close to exposing Obama for who and what he is. At least they are in the ballpark. The rest is just liberal snooze media.
The liberal is the child. All things are new, all things are possible. All is kindness and lovable little puppies. The Conservative is the father who whispers in the childs ear that most things have been tried, possibilities have problems, kindness is expensive and lovable little puppies may turn into mean ugly dogs. FReeper Captain Compassion
Isn’t interesting how the media never looks at whether the leftist positions are the ones that are “extreme”! Even though they are, sometimes to the level of fascism.
I once heard a lib complaining about Fox’s “fair and balanced” theme.
I said, OK, maybe they aren’t balanced, but they are attempting to BALANCE every other news source out there.
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