Fox News Is Killing The Republican Party


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The case was made long ago that Fox News is a blight on the media map. It is bad for journalism. It is bad for Democracy. It is bad for America. A so-called “news” network that repeatedly misinforms, even deliberately disinforms, its audience is failing any test of public service embodied by an ethical press.

I, personally, have made the case for an embargo of Fox News by Democrats and progressives (see Starve the Beast: Part I, Part II, Part III), documenting via studied analysis that there is no affirmative value to appearing on Fox News – a network that has established itself as overtly hostile to the Democratic message and its messengers.

However, there is another side to this that has not been addressed previously. Republicans might be well advised to avoid Fox News as well. There is a case to be made that Fox News is demonstrably harmful to the Republican Party. In fact, it may be the worst thing to happen to Republicans in decades. That may seem counter-intuitive when discussing Fox News, the acknowledged public relations division of the Republican Party. Fox has populated its air with right-wing mouthpieces and brazenly partisan advocates for a conservative Republican agenda. They read GOP press releases on the air verbatim as if they were the product of original research. They provide a forum where Republican politicians and pundits can peddle their views unchallenged. So how is this harmful to Republicans?

If all we were witnessing was the emergence of a mainstream conservative network that aspired to advance Republican themes and policies, there would not be much of note here. Most of the conventional media was already center-right before there was a Fox News. But Fox has corralled a stable of the most disreputable, unqualified, extremist, lunatics ever assembled, and is presenting them as experts, analysts, and leaders. These third-rate icons of idiocy are marketed by Fox like any other gag gift (i.e. pet rocks, plastic vomit, Sarah Palin, etc.). So while most Americans have never heard of actual Republican party bosses like House Minority Leader John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, posers like Joe the Plumber and Carrie Prejean have become household names.

Fox News has descended into depths heretofore reserved for fringe characters. They are openly promoting the wackos who believe that President Obama is ineligible to hold office because he isn’t a U.S. citizen. They feature commentaries by secessionists and even those calling for an overthrow of the government and the Constitution. This explains how folks like Ralph Peters, a retired military officer who said that the Taliban captors of a U.S. Soldier would be saving us a lot of trouble and expense if they would just kill him, earn airtime on Fox. Peters previously told Fox News that he favors military strikes against media targets. This explains how Glenn Beck can agree with a guest that it would be a good thing if America were attacked again by Osama bin Laden. And don’t even get me started on Victoria Jackson, who has joined an ever-lengthening line of psycho-Chicken Littles who compare the President to Hitler.

Good Advice:
“If crazy ideologues have infiltrated the news business, we need to know about it.”
~ Bill O’Reilly, 7/16/09

The list of loonies extends to politicians like Michele Bachmann, entertainers like Ted Nugent, and of course, the talk show pundits like Rush Limbaugh, whose maniacal rantings are elevated by Fox into their version of political dialogue. It’s a dialogue that is consumed with ACORN conspiracies and Manchurian presidents. The problem is that by elevating bona fide nutcases, they are debasing honest and informed discourse. The mental cases are crowding out any reasonable voices that might exist amongst the more moderate Republicans (if there are any left). Fox appears to have made a tactical decision to permit the inmates full run of the asylum.

As a result, the Fox News audience is being dumbed down by a parade of paranoid know-nothings. This strategy appears to be successful for Fox in that it has attracted a loyal viewership that is eager to have their twisted preconceptions affirmed. The conflict-infused fare in which Fox specializes is a ratings juggernaut – just like any good fiction. However, this perceived popularity is having an inordinate impact on the GOP platform. By doubling down on crazy, Fox is driving the center of the Republican Party further down the rabid hole. They are reshaping the party into a more radicalized community of conspiracy nuts. So even as this helps Rupert Murdoch’s bottom line, it is making celebrities of political bottom-feeders. That can’t be good for the long-term prospects of the Republican Party.

With the Fox network unabashedly promoting the most ridiculous rumors, myths, and nightmares of the rightist fringe, moderate and independent Americans will grow ever more suspicious of the Fox/GOP agenda. Most Americans do not believe that Sonia Sotomayor is a racist; or that FEMA is constructing concentration camps; or that we are on a march toward socialism, communism, fascism, or whatever the right is peddling this week. Most Americans do not believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim, a reptilian alien, or the anti-Christ. In short, most Americans think that the loopy yarns spun by Fox News are fables told by madmen – and believed by even madder men and women who wallow in their doomsday utopia.

Fox News is fond of boasting about their ratings dominance. It is a daily occurrence and the structural core of their argument that they reflect the mood of America. The GOP has bought this argument in its entirety. So it is important to note here that success in the Nielsen ratings has no correlation to public opinion polling. The ratings only measure the program choices of Nielsen’s survey participants. That is a subset of the population at large, and not a particularly representative one. It is a sample focused on consumers, not voters. And its respondents are just those willing to have their TV viewing monitored 24 hours a day, which skews the sample in favor of people who aren’t creeped out by that. What’s more, viewing choices are not necessarily an endorsement of the opinions presented in the program. There are many reasons people choose to watch TV shows, the most frequent being its entertainment value. So any attempt to tie ratings to partisan politics is a foolish exercise that demonstrates a grievous misunderstanding of the business of television.

As for what constitutes success in the television marketplace, due to the broad diversification of available programming, it doesn’t take much to be heralded as a hit. A mere 3 share (3% of people watching TV) will land you in the top 10. For cable news the bar is set even lower. In fact, the top rated show on the top rated cable news network (The O’Reilly Factor) only gets about 3 million viewers. That’s less than 1% of the American population. It’s also less than World Wrestling Entertainment, SpongeBob SquarePants, and the CBS Evening News (the lowest rated broadcast network news program). By contrast, America’s Got Talent is seen by 12 million viewers – four times O’Reilly’s audience.

Numbers this low ought not to inspire much excitement from political operatives. Nevertheless, Republicans are riding the coattails of Fox News as if it were representative of a booming conservative mandate in the electorate. They are embracing Fox’s most delusional eccentrics. This is leading to the promotion of similar eccentrics within the party. Which brings us the absurd spectacle of the network’s nuts interviewing the party’s pinheads.

The inevitable result of this system of rewarding those farthest from reality is the creation of a constituency of crackpots. It is an endorsement of the philosophy brewed by the Tea Baggers that espouses racism, tyranny, and armed revolt. It is enabling a frightening corps of openly militant adversaries of democracy, free speech, and Constitutional rule. It is the sort of environment that produced the murders of Dr. George Tiller and Holocaust Museum guard Stephen Johns.

This is a textbook example of how the extreme rises to the top. It is also fundamentally contrary to the interests of the Republican Party. The more the population at large associates Republican ideology with the agenda of Fox News, and the fringe operators residing there, the more the party will be perceived as out of touch, or even out of their minds. It seems like such a waste after all of the effort and expense that Fox put into building a pseudo-journalistic enterprise with the goal of confounding viewers with false news-like theatrics.

Make no mistake, Fox News is still managed by hard core party patrons. And I’m not referring just to opinion-driven commentators like Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity, although they are bad enough. No, I am talking about executives and editors like CEO, Roger Ailes, former Nixon and Bush media consultant. I’m talking about Washington Managing Editor and VP, Bill Sammon, an avid right-wing alum of the Washington “Moonie” Times. I’m talking about Business News Chief and VP, Neil Cavuto, antagonistic interrupter extraordinaire. And let us not forget the head hype-master, Rupert Murdoch, whose UK operations were just discovered to have been unlawfully wiretapping celebrities, politicians, and even members of the Royal Family. Augmenting that executive roster are the GOP regulars who are straight out of the just retired Republican White House: Karl Rove, Dana Perino, John Bolton, Dan Senor, and Linda Chavez. And then there are the Fox News clowns…er…“contributors” like Dick Morris, Ann Coulter, Fred Barnes, Charles Krauthammer, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Bernie Goldberg, Michele Malkin, and on and on. If nothing else, Fox is a full-employment program for rightist weasels (and they also operate the Conservative Book Promotion Club).

The mission of Fox News from its inception was to be more than just a voice of opposition to Democrats. It was to utterly crush the left end of the political spectrum leaving only a teetering right wing with no counter balance. Yet, despite the torrid embrace between Republicans and Fox News, it is apparent that Fox is the source of a sort of friendly fire that is decimating the GOP by exalting its most outlandish and unpopular players. And since Republicans have not been particularly popular anyway lately, the anchor being thrown to them by Fox can’t be all that helpful – - – Except to Democrats.

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38 thoughts on “Fox News Is Killing The Republican Party

  1. Not sure if all this is correct or not, but prima face I like it.

    As I was reading I got the idea that FoxNudes (as I call them)
    actually began like a good thing for the right. But then the idea got caught on greed and corruption as many other things on the USA. Along the lines the need for PROFITS overcame the firt idea of doing right wing politics. They found that in order to increase profits they had to became more defined, more extremist, more nuttier, more hysteric in order to touch emotions, increase ratings and get the money…of the almighty profits , will be the RUIN of all things pure!!!. So what we see now is a distorted, out of control operation of what intentions once where. The immates are NOT running the assylum. The ones running the assylum right now are the ones that came after them. Both immates and the guards have LEFT the assylum long ago!. The ones in control right now are just playing whatever they have to play to squeeze money and more money and nobody cares anymore.
    So I thing this will be the GOP great undoing. Most people believe the GOP is under control of FOXNudes, but Rush Limabaugh has showed that is not the case when he had many GOP people bow to him at the beginning of 2009. Ok, Rush does not have a show in FoxNudes , but he is there all the time.
    So to me, FoxNudes has overtaken the GOP and now the GOP puppeticians (TM) are more or less SLAVES of whatever the FoxNudes and the gang decides to go for. Now th GOP seems a pathetic excuse to keep making money trough FoxNudes and the company. If that shocks you, remember that the whole USA goverment is the best goverment money can buy, over run on their control power by the big corporations and special interests. well those were half-baked toughts, just to give some idea of what I was thinking.

    FOXNUDES: caused they do RIGHT-WING PORN !!!. why? 1) if you see a porn movie it has no substance, everything there is just an excuse for the sex. Here too, everything there is an excuse to orgy the right-wingers on so right-wing tenets and the second coming of ronald reagan. 2) cause it sounds funny 3)

    • I agree completely that Fox News has become an end in and of itself. It has surpassed the influence of the party it was invented to support. I wrote about that in The Cult of Foxonality.

      However, I disagree a bit with your assessment that it is all about money. If that were the case, Murdoch would not be losing $50 million a year on the New York Post. He would not have started a new business network and bought the Wall Street Journal at a time when newspapers (and the market overall) were tanking. He is just as interested in his conservative ideology as in his bank account.

    • Er, at least “Fox Nudes” has a lot of female anchors where that would be a GOOD thing….

      as opposed to MSLSD’s Maddow the Cow… could you imagine? If she were topless, it would be lie seeing the Great Plains in Google Earth!

      This is why libtard guys are so cranky… the good looking babes are all on the conservative side…

      Meanwhile libtard guys are left to fantasize about Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Barbara Boxer…. eeeeew! the horror!

  2. Dear Mark, This is the most – the most – superb column I’ve read on this blog and pretty much anywhere else (not that your other columns aren’t great as well). I’m still in literacy heaven over paragraphs 4, 6 and 7. Have you published it in other venues for the widest reach possible? Its meticulous assessment of the FOX paradox – the definitive article on the subject – is outmatched only by your delightful, precise writing style. In short, a language-lover’s paradise.

    About Cavuto: is he still chyroning accusations in the form of questions for plausible deniability purposes? Suppose that trick will never grow old for FOX viewers.

  3. You are all jealous of Fox ratings.
    It’s obvious.

    • Thanks for that substantive response. So impeccably researched and irrefutably logical. I think you’ve convinced me. How could I have been so blind.

    • Jealous of Faux Newz ratings? You’re watching a Republican Informercial 24/7 365 days a week. What are you talking about Ann Coultre?

  4. Hm. Sounds like jealous liberals to me.

    • i think the last people liberals would be jealous of would be the republican party.

    • Jealous of the Republican Party’s declining demographics, increasingly bug-eyed lunatic image with the mainstream public, and onrushing spectre of complete irrelevance to the political discussion?

      HAH! Is that all you reichwing thugs have to offer anymore? Delusions of self-grandeur?

      Why don’t you spend this evening at a neighborhood bar, or mall, talking to folks who aren’t suffering from cauliflower ear glued to the am radio rantings of Limbaugh?

      And, since 7/24 of last year I would submit that the Teabagger contingent has pretty much sabotaged your party. The elections in November showed that, at a national level, your party’s continuing slide to the extremist right has cost you seats in Congress, and will continue to do so.

      • Um after New Jersey, Virginia, & Massachusetts your absolutely right.. the GOP is doomed….

        I don’t see a future for you as a pollster… LOL!

  5. Thanks for the great article.

    Let’s make it very clear, they may be relatively unknown but the “Republican party bosses like House Majority Leader John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell” are NOT ONE IOTA IDEOLOGICALLY DIFFERENT FROM the party pinheads and other, above-mentioned, FOX, disreputable, unqualified, extremist, eccentric, fringe, wacko, maniacal, psycho-Chicken Littles, mental cases, paranoid know-nothings, conspiracy nuts, political bottom-feeders, delusional eccentrics, crackpots, lunatics, fringe operators, rightist weasels, clowns, mental institution inmates and third-rate icons of idiocy.

    The only difference I have noticed, and, in full disclosure, I actively avoid them all in order to keep from retching, is that Boner and McCondom have actual power and speak with many fewer bulging veins and much less bulging eyeballs and flying spittle.

  6. Mark,

    Just wanted you to know, this piece is getting shout-outs at both TVN and ICN.

    • Thanks. I’m sure it’s all very complimentary too. ;-)

  7. Fox News is the “Enquirer” of cable television. And the only thing Victoria Jackson is famous for in the real world is the ability to do handstands, a dubious achievement. I admire your exceptional writing style.

  8. Finally, a blog for retards.

    Why don’t any of you haters argue the facts instead of trying to belittle the person.

    Really, think about it.

    All you do is BLABLABLA. Absolutly no substence

    • Ha Ha – Beautiful. The article above is all substance and has a multitude of facts. Your comment has exactly zero. This is precisely the sort of dumbed down, right-wing, idiocy I’m talking about.

      Bla bla bla…..

  9. I find this poster very funny. What I don’t find funny is the truth these fuuny men are trying to get out to you and me. They are right on and you are right OFF. Why isn’t the news about Van Horn and his rold in the whitedhouse all over MSNBC or CNN? Why is it only Fox is willing to expose these people? I won’t be back on this website nor will I encourage anyone to be. This is not a fair and balanced place to be so take out the faces in this poster and replace with Keith or the rest of these jokers.

    • “…the news about Van Horn and his rold in the whitedhouse…”

      I hafe no respondse to dhis.

  10. Mark, I have to say that I do agree with your blog to a degree. Coming from a conservative, that might surprise you as well as your readers.

    I’m not one to believe everything I hear from anyone coming across the newswire. It’s not a long stretch to realize that a vast majority of our media is tied into Big-money (even the liberal media)…so we have to be mindful of what they spew.

    I watch all the so-called news networks, but my interest isn’t so much the commentators point of view, or who they interviewing. I listen for names, happenings, and tid-bits that I can use for my own research. Sadly, Fox does pour out more of what I am looking for than say MSNBC. I find it sad because I have to listen to the ranting in order to get those key-points I’m looking for.

    Is Fox killing the republican party? Perhaps. Is that a bad thing? Not really. I think what is happening is that the different groups within the republican coalition are beginning to find the bad apples and starting to realize their agendas…which is why we are seeing conservatives distancing themselves from the elite-profiteers in the party and are looking for more noble, respectable prospects for future elections. (Will the democratic party do the same?)

    Expansion in both economic and social fronts must be approached slowly and with wise legislation in order for America to retain Freedom and Liberty within it’s borders. If we don’t, the extremes on both sides will crush it with their hunger for power. (And, we are standing on the cliff-face now. The elite-profiteers ran us to the cliff…now the elite-power hungry social activists are going to push us off..because they want their share too.)

    • Thanks for your views. I’m not sure that I see the Republican Party looking for (or finding) the bad apples. I In fact, I see them latching onto them. They won’t disavow the crazy talk. More often they affirm it.

      As for Democrats, I don’t see them pushing anyone off a cliff. In fact, I see them capitulating and compromising. They have the presidency and majorities in both houses of congress but can’t seem to put forward their agenda. That’s not grabbing power, that’s abdicating it.

  11. I don’t think the purpose of Fox is to rally positive support for Republican candidates. Its purpose is to lead the attack machine against Democratic candidates and proposals. Unfortunately, I don’t think a lot of moderate to conservative Americans equate Ann Coulter with Mitt Romney. Beck with Chuck Grassley. John Bolton with Bobby Jindal. Karl Rove with Tim Pawlenty. The only thing that Fox and Republican politicians share is their lack of any solutions or proposals and that does not necessarilly connect the two in voters’ eyes.

    Instead, Fox news role is to raise the negatives on Obama and Chris Dodd and Jimmy Carter and Nancy Pelosi. By creating concern about Democrats, Fox diverts center right voters’ concerns about the craziness of Republican greed and demagoguery.

    Even more important, Fox’s role is to attack the progressive policies that would harm its advertisers’ budgets. They attack financial, environmental and health reform. Fox is effective and it is not going anywhere. Democrats and progressives need to accept this. There is a large market for political fundamentalism that will keep it alive and while it is alive, Fox’s display at gyms and barber shops and hair salons and sports bars will ensure that its attack politics will help tear down progressive ideas and candidates.

    • If all that were true, than why does the approval rating for the GOP go down as the ratings for Fox go up?

      If Fox’s role is to harm the Dems, they are failing miserably. The last two election cycles, Fox tried mightily to advance its agenda, but Dems prevailed. They are, however, harming the Repubs.

  12. I hope you are right! I just never got the over the top negativity of the brand and blatant lies they air—and can’t imagine the mush in the brain of the 24/7 viewer.

    Also beyond my understanding is this: Huge cardiology practice in Atlanta, all old folks wi thvarious incapacities, wheelchairs, oxygen, assited by care givers or equally aged relatives waiting to get into to assess the current distress of their hearts—on 27 hanging TVs in the lobbies Fox News is blasting—all the vitriol, the fear mongering, the snearing, the slime for the sick, sick audience. Why would the ultra-educated 27 or so cardiologist in the practice run Fox of all things?

    By the time they get to see the MD their blood pressure and stress must be through the roof. Wouldn’t placid nature, healthful nutrition, appropriate exercise, lifestyle advice videos be more therapeutic. Fox for cardiac patients blew me away!

    Here’s hoping they fail soon and take their enablers in the GOP with them or these folks will be dying an early death.

  13. THE BOSTON TEA PARTY…
    52% SCOTT BROWN (R) 1,153,808
    47% MARTHA COAKLEY (D)D: 1,052,391

    Ahem…

    :- )

    • In his victory speech, the number of times Brown identified himself as a…

      Republican = 0
      Independent = 3

      My thesis still stands.

  14. Number of times Brown identified himself as a Republican during his campaign = Countless

    Number of times Keith Odorman cried in his herbal tea off-camera last night = Countless

    Number of victory speeches by Dems last night – in that most liberal of states – on any network = 0

    :- )

    • Actually, Brown went to great lengths to avoid identifying himself as a Republican during the campaign too. He didn’t even put his party on his ads.

      Number of Dems that American voters sent to the Senate = 58.
      Number of Repubs that American voters sent to the Senate = 41.

  15. No disrespect intended, but, since your wonky website just vaporized my response when I hit “Add Comment”, and since I work for a living – a concept w which libs are unfamiliar, I don’t have the time to bang it out all over again.

    However, for now, I can leave you w this:

    Name of party for which Scott Brown ran = Republican

    Number of Dems now taking crash courses on “Small, non-intrusive government” and “Fiscal responsibility” = Countless

    And:

    CABLE NEWS RACE
    TUES. JAN. 19, 2010
    ELECTION NIGHT

    FOXNEWS HANNITY 6,809,000
    FOXNEWS GRETA 6,399,000
    FOXNEWS O’REILLY 5,228,000
    FOXNEWS BECK 3,446,000
    FOXNEWS BAIER 3,338,000
    FOXNEWS SHEP 3,241,000
    CNN KING 1,681,000
    CNN COOPER 1,508,000
    CNN BROWN 1,308,000
    MSNBC OLBERMANN 1,274,000
    MSNBC MADDOW 1,236,000
    CNN BLITZER 1,135,000
    CNNHN BEHAR 845,000
    MSNBC HARDBALL 798,000

    :- )

    • Sorry your comment got whacked. I assure you it was not my doing.

      As for the cable news ratings, who cares if Fox is #1? McDonalds is the #1 restaurant in America. That doesn’t mean it has the best food. It means that it has the cheapest crap that is loaded with filler and seasoning to appeal to the largest number of consumers with the least sophisticated taste. And that’s a pretty good description of Fox News too.

      • Hmmmmm

        I’m reading vitriol, not fact.

        Speaking of fact, let’s construct a simple equation:

        Fox News is #1

        +

        President Obama carried Massachusetts by 26 points on Nov. 4, 2008. Fifteen months later, on Jan. 19, 2010, the eve of the first anniversary of his inauguration, his party’s candidate lost Massachusetts by five points. That’s a 31-point shift. Mr. Obama won Virginia by six points in 2008. A year later, on Nov. 2, 2009, his party’s candidate for governor lost by 18 points—a 25 point shift. Mr. Obama won New Jersey in 2008 by 16 points. In 2009 his party’s incumbent governor lost re-election by four points—a 20-point shift.

        In each race, the president’s party lost independent voters, who in 2008 voted like Democrats and in 2010 voted like Republicans.

        =

        Someone’s thesis is in trouble.

        • That doesn’t even address my thesis. Read the article again. Hell, just read the title.

          As for your equation, Obama wasn’t running in any of those races. Read my new article on the just released Fox News poll showing that Obama beats every Republican in 2012.

  16. What a difference a year makes. This week the ‘baggers have vowed to destroy Brown, a Dem wins in PA special election, craziness goes unabated with Rand and the Chicken lady. The nurse lady is right. When you go into any hospital or public placw with a TV , 9 times out of 10 it’s going to have Fox on. I sat in waiting room listening and noticed none of the 15 people in there weree paying any attention to it. Good story!

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