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Fox News is Killing the Republican Party

British newspaper The Guardian has an excellent article on how Fox News is basically running the Republican primary, and as a result is helping Obama’s reelection bid, maybe even giving Obama a landslide victory.

You don’t believe that Fox News is running the Republican primary? After all, Fox hasn’t endorsed any candidates. But it is more subtle than that. What Fox does is suddenly give a lot of attention to a specific candidate (for example by giving them more appearances) and then starts feeding them softball questions (like when Bill O’Reilly asked Rick Perry on his Nov 18 show “Do you believe that Barack Obama — the person, not the President, the person because a lot of conservatives do believe this — doesn’t like America?”), and their poll numbers go magically up.

This has been carefully documented by Media Matters (they call it the “Fox Primary”). Indeed, just days before Newt Gingrich surged in the Republican polls, Media Matters shows that he was suddenly given the most appearances on Fox News. Not bad for a candidate who has little cash and whose campaign staff all quit back in June. Who needs a campaign when you have Fox News on your side?

Republican political operative Dick Morris (ironically while appearing on Fox and Friends) noted that Newt Gingrich didn’t have to actually, you know, campaign in Iowa in order to win the Iowa caucus. As Morris explained “This is a phenomenon of this year’s election. You don’t win Iowa in Iowa. you win it on this couch. You win it on Fox News.” As a result of Gingrich’s multiple appearances on Fox News, as Fox host Brian Kilmeade put it “With only one office in Iowa, he’s running away with the state! It’s almost unheard of!” Funny, that.

But the real problem is that as a corporation, Fox News doesn’t care about winning elections, they only care about ratings and making money. You don’t get high ratings by promoting candidates who have sensible, workable policies. You get high ratings from sensationalism, by serving up continuous outrage and fear to your viewers. Fox News promotes candidates who make for good TV, not who make for good politics. This explains why Fox virtually ignores candidates like Jon Huntsman or even Mitt Romney, both former state governors with impressive records.

Conservative Andew Sullivan calls this the “Media Industrial Complex“. As he explains, Fox News needs “provocative, polarising media stars” to guarantee high ratings. When there is so much money to be made from politics-as-entertainment” they need “talk-show hosts as president, not governors or legislators.”

As David Frum, the former Dubya speechwriter said “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us – and now we’re discovering we work for Fox.”

By adopting positions acceptable to Fox News, candidates push themselves into positions that make them less appealing to the national electorate. So Fox News makes lots of money, but the Republican Party crumbles. For example, Fox cheered Republicans to raise the debt ceiling in November, prompting the downgrading of America’s credit rating. Ouch! The Arizona official who pioneered their draconian anti-immigration measures (with heavy support from Fox News) was recalled. The Ohio law prohibiting collective bargaining rights for public sector workers went down in a landslide.

Even more interesting is that Florida Governor Rick Scott, heavily promoted to a big victory by Fox, is now the least popular governor in the US with a dismal 26% approval rating. What’s ironic is that Scott’s low popularity is because he is doing exactly what he promised to do in the campaign: cut the budget and cut government expenses. It turns out that while people claim they want smaller government, they don’t want to lose any program that benefits them (hence the “Government keep your hands off my Medicare” signs).

So Fox News candidates have hurt the GOP in key electoral states like Florida and Ohio. That can only help Obama get reelected.



  1. Jeff wrote:

    “What Fox does is suddenly give a lot of attention to a specific candidate (for example by giving them more appearances) and then starts feeding them softball questions”. This is exactly what Glenn Beck did. He had Gingrich on, and grilled him relentlessly for over an hour. Then he had Bachmann and Santorum on, and he was their best friend. It’s selective support, and it gets the people who follow Fox and Glenn to support who those guys support.

    What I’ve noticed is that Fox seems to be popping up in a lot of public places. Their on the screens in gas stations, restaurants, outlet stores, and on the radio. They are incredibly pervasive for being so biased. They have huge influence, and in a way that’s good. It means that all you have to do is endure “Fox & Friends” or “The O’Reilly Factor” to see what the next step of the GOP is going to be. And if the GOP is following the cues from Fox, I don’t think Obama is going to break a sweat in 2012.

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Permalink
  2. ebdoug wrote:

    And Huntsman is coming up in the polls. Used to be1 or 2%. Now 5%. Some Americans can think.

    [either that or they are running out of other candidates. –iron]

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Permalink
  3. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    As a regular reader of Fox Nation for both humor and tragedy, I’ve found the recent slamming of Glenn Beck (after he dared to say naughty things about Newt) to be only slightly more funny than the slew of Tebow articles I’ve had to endure this NFL season. Mysteriously, no other sports articles anywhere to be found…

    But seriously, how funny is it that now that he’s off the network and bad mouthing “their” candidate, suddenly he’s a crackpot?!

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Permalink
  4. Morrius wrote:

    I think we know who Fox News /doesn’t/ want to be the Republican nominee.

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Permalink
  5. Iron Knee wrote:

    Morrius, that’s hilarious! Took me a moment to see it.

    Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 12:13 am | Permalink
  6. Michael wrote:

    I missed it too. I was trying to find some hidden message in the names and numbers and didn’t even think to look up.

    Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 8:57 am | Permalink
  7. Morrius wrote:

    Thanks IK. I’ll put five bucks on Mitt having (D-MA) attached to him by the end of 2012.

    Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Permalink
  8. Don wrote:

    The spin on the Obama as Romney switch was that it was an accident at Faux News. I think not. I’m with Morrius on this one.

    Friday, December 16, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Permalink