Posts Tagged ‘Fox News’

In the aftermath of the trouncing last Tuesday, some in the media and on the Right are finally beginning to examine the consequences of the conservative echo chamber. I’ve had friends who have been part of the conservative movement for decades complaining to me about this for years, and the chickens are — yes — finally coming home to roost. How far we’ve come from the days when an editor named William F. Buckley Jr. used media, like National Review and Firing Line (a program broadcast on PBS) to provide a forum for informed debate and exchange of ideas.

Insightful analysis here from POLITICO’s Jonathan Martin, and a personal portrait of one loyal GOPer’s personal bubble-bursting experience in the Post. And for reference, Bill Maher has been talking about this (with a literal bubble as a prop) for years.

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After President Obama’s decisive victory last night, the reaction from the conservative chattering class has been fast and furious (to coin a phrase) and they’re all over the map. Starting with Karl Rove’s on-air conspiracy theorizing about stolen votes in Ohio, the bloviators and echo chamber residents — as well as the more thoughtful folks on the right — are at it with a wide array of finger-pointing allegations, none of which seem to include the fact that Americans just plain rejected the Republican message.

Here is the top ten list:

1) Romney wasn’t conservative enough. (Laura Ingraham)

2) Romney was too conservative. (David Frum)

3) Romney needed to reach minorities and broaden the base. (Marco Rubio)

4) White Americans have too much guilt to vote against the first Black President. (Rush Limbaugh)

5) Half of the country likes handouts rather than working so they vote Democratic. (Rush and in turn Sean Hannity)

6) Liberals like Chris Matthews were happy about the hurricane Sandy, which clinched it for Obama — and Chris Christie is a closet Democrat. (Fox News)

7) The entire mainstream media was in the tank and handed Obama his victory. (Rich Noyes)

8) The Romney campaign was inadequately managed. (Peggy Noonan)

9) Wingnuts like Donald Trump highjacked the mainstream GOP message. (Steve Schmidt)

10) The GOP did not rely enough on its “strong bench” of up and coming leaders. (Charles Krauthammer)

This schizophrenic reaction is telling. Another view, which I and some more thoughtful conservatives and students of conservatism hold, is that the movement has fallen apart, lost its intellectual bearings, and needs to right itself or accept its status as a permanently frustrated, disorganized minority.

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I just watched Jon Stewart’s contentious (to say the least) interview with Chris Wallace on Fox from earlier today, and had to revisit comments from my interview several weeks ago with my friend Scot Faulkner — a lifelong conservative activist who now is head of the Dreyfus Initiative, a nonpartisan, non-profit organization looking to promote civics education (public, parochial, and home schooling) that furthers civil discourse about our country’s history and future.

There is not some daylight, but not much, between what Scot told me and how Stewart skewered Wallace. Fox has become an echo chamber, a quasi-propagandistic island where there is little to no serious debate or exchange of different viewpoints. “Fox is bad for conservatism,” Faulkner told me. “We need to engage the other side, we need to engage the voters…Fox on the right, MSNBC on the left — you have people who are so bitter to each other…so polarizing and vicious, to the point of crafting parallel realities.”

Those parallel realities stand in the way of political progress, which depends on discourse. As I have written repeatedly, the conservative movement and its media voices have devolved from the model favored by its modern godfather William F. Buckley Jr. and his Firing Line to CNN’s Crossfire (also lambasted by Stewart) and now the Fox echo chamber. One of the last bastions of serious, conservative intellectual exchange is not much noticed in the media — and often improperly portrayed as part of the right wing conspiracy: The Federalist Society. In what I’ve written on the Federalists when researching my Ph.D., I had the chance to ask then-Senator Hillary Clinton, who coined that conspiracy phrase, about the Federalist Society. In hindsight she took a different view, complementing the Federalists for their intellectual dedication and organizational commitment.

I cannot say, nor do I suspect Sec. Clinton would say, similar things about the crowd on Fox. As Faulkner pointed out in my extended interview with him on POLITICO, the Fox effect has recently given us such political sad stories as Newt Gingrich, who was resurrected by Sean Hannity in the farthest thing from a process of serious political engagement;  on Fox, Hannity was Gingrich’s “golden retriever.”

And when Gingrich goes on Meet the Press, he encounters someone who wasn’t a golden retriever.

Fox is bad for conservatism. Just as other networks, like MSNBC with its own crop of over-the-top programming, is bad for progressivism. Both are bad for the broader political discourse. I’m happy to have Jon Stewart out there making the case; I’d like to also see more principled conservatives like Scot Faulkner making the case.

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