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Fox News is Killing the GOP

A recent article in Salon starts with a headline that says it all: “Sean Hannity is killing the GOP: Fox News & conservative media have the party in a stranglehold“. At one point the Republicans might have thought Fox News was on their side, but one has to wonder what the GOP is thinking now that Hannity is cheerleading for Donald Trump. He even says that the other Republican candidates should learn from Trump.

But the problem goes deeper than that. The Salon article points out that despite taking over both chambers of Congress, Republicans really haven’t gotten anything done. The GOP is still fighting lost battles, like trying to defund Obamacare and fighting against same sex marriage. I’m not sure I can even say what the Republican agenda is, let alone point to any things they have accomplished on it.

And what would they do if they did get their way? Even Republicans acknowledge that if they somehow managed to repeal Obamacare, it would be a disaster for their party. Heck, they were even secretly hoping the Supreme Court wouldn’t rule against it.

Instead we see the following scenario repeated way too often:

The dysfunction typically follows a familiar pattern: the GOP leadership in one or both Houses tries to follow through on some basic task – funding government agencies, for example – but runs into opposition from conservatives. The leadership tries to accommodate the right, but finds that the right’s demands are unreasonable and inflexible. The whole legislative process derails, and then the Democratic minority steps in to save the Republicans from themselves.

Is that any way to run a party, let alone a country?

But there may not be much the GOP can do. A paper out of Harvard points out that the Republicans, who promised in the 2014 midterm elections that they would show the nation how well they could govern, if only voters would put them completely in charge of Congress. Well, the voters did, and the result was humiliation after humiliation. Republican Congressman summed up the first three weeks, before the honeymoon was even over:

Week one, we had a speaker election that did not go as well as a lot of us would have liked. Week two, we got into a big fight over deporting children, something that a lot of us didn’t want to have a discussion about. Week three, we are now talking about rape and incest and reportable rapes and incest for minors. I just can’t wait for week four.

The following weeks only got worse. The GOP staged a showdown against Obama over immigration policy, insanely vowing to withhold money for homeland security (as terrorist acts filled the news) unless Obama reversed his executive decision and deported millions of people who were brought to the US illegally as children.

The fight completely backfired. (But that hasn’t stopped Trump from still fighting it, with his “rapists” remark against immigrants.)

It is clear that the GOP is out of control. So who is in control?

As many of them concede, it is conservative media – not just talk-show celebrities Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham, but also lesser-known talkers like Steve Deace, and an expanding web of “news” sites and social media outlets with financial and ideological alliances with far-right anti-government, anti-establishment groups like Heritage Action, Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth and FreedomWorks. Once allied with but now increasingly hostile to the Republican hierarchy, conservative media is shaping the party’s agenda in ways that are impeding Republicans’ ability to govern and to win presidential elections.

According to another Republican staffer:

It’s so easy these days to go out there and become an Internet celebrity by saying some things, and who cares if it’s true or makes any sense. It’s a new frontier: How far to the right can you get? And there’s no incentive to ever really bother with reality.

It is too easy to play on people’s fears and make money off it. And according to former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott “If you stray the slightest from the far right, you get hit by the conservative media.”

Is there any way the Republicans can break out of this vicious cycle?



  1. Hassan wrote:

    I think people who vote for republican party (specially tea party candidates) exactly want these things. Heck I voted (and will vote) republican for hope of getting obamacare repealed and somehow get same sex marriage be left to state to decide. Where does it say in constitution that I have to give up on the hope and change 🙂

    Monday, August 3, 2015 at 5:54 am | Permalink
  2. ralph wrote:

    The Republicans may be their own worst enemy, but in some ways so is the general public for passively ingesting a diet served up by a media environment that rewards this behavior in the interests of corporate profits.

    I was surfing YouTube over the weekend and came across a panel discussion about the role of the media in public affairs and its uncomfortable alliance with, and influence by, their corporate backers. It’s an interesting panel hosted by Bill Moyers and featuring Christopher Hitchens, among other luminaries, hosted by The Nation magazine and aired on C-SPAN, waaaaay back in ’97. So it hints at how much longer this issue of political bias in both print and broadcast media has been around (near as long as the country, in some respects). Some argue the media on both sides of the political spectrum are complicit with the status quo and their corporate overlords and have gradually blurred the lines between news and entertainment, fueling this hyper-partisanship to the detriment of our democracy and political institutions.

    Anyway, what initially floored me was in the written description of the clip attributed to Scott Norvell, the London bureau chief for Fox News, who stated/admitted in a May 20, 2005 interview with the Wall Street Journal that:

    “Even we at Fox News manage to get some lefties on the air occasionally, and often let them finish their sentences before we club them to death and feed the scraps to Karl Rove and Bill O’Reilly. And those who hate us can take solace in the fact that they aren’t subsidizing Bill’s bombast; we payers of the BBC license fee don’t enjoy that peace of mind.
    Fox News is, after all, a private channel and our presenters are quite open about where they stand on particular stories. That’s our appeal. People watch us because they know what they are getting. The Beeb’s (British Broadcasting Corporation) (BBC) institutionalized leftism would be easier to tolerate if the corporation was a little more honest about it”.

    Noam Chomsky has long argued likewise about complicity in the media with corporate interests and their redefinition of our democracy to suit their ends, which of course is profits. Here’s a clip from 1989 and there are similar arguments he’s made with William F. Buckley, Jr. even earlier on his show Firing Line that you can easily find.

    We love to slam Fox for their obvious biases and laughable claims to being Fair and Balanced, but there are arguably many parallels between them and the left leaning media as well when it comes to waving the flag and giving a pass to the machinations here and abroad of corporate power and its grip on gov’t (and the military). SCOTUS, of course, has only facilitated this influence by fully cranking open the money taps to 11.

    If you really want to freak out about the complicity of the media with militant corporatism, watch the recent documentary and history lesson “Why We Fight”. Ike was so right. But I digress.

    Sorry to be a windbag this morning, guess I needed a good rant to start the week, but this issue often gets my dander up.

    Monday, August 3, 2015 at 7:49 am | Permalink
  3. Babe of the Boom wrote:

    It is their death spiral–let them (& us) enjoy it.

    Monday, August 3, 2015 at 8:04 am | Permalink
  4. Iron Knee wrote:

    Hassan, I hate to tell you this, but even if the Republicans win the presidency and have a veto-proof majority in Congress, you will not see Obamacare repealed. You are being used. Remember the last time Republicans controlled the presidency and Congress? What happened to their promises to eliminate abortion?

    Ralph, there is always bias, but what I’m complaining about are outright lies, told with full knowledge that they are lies. Fox News even won a lawsuit to protect their right to lie. (Do I have to play the “false equivalence” card?)

    Monday, August 3, 2015 at 8:06 am | Permalink
  5. Hassan wrote:

    Iron Knee, I know, and this is to punish establishment republican and make their life miserable. May be one day we can get enough republicans that can have balls to repeal Obamacare.

    Monday, August 3, 2015 at 9:00 am | Permalink
  6. Iron Knee wrote:

    “Fool you once, shame on them. Fool you twice, shame on you.”

    Or as a former president put it “Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, uh, won’t get fooled again.”

    Monday, August 3, 2015 at 9:31 am | Permalink
  7. Hmm wrote:

    IK, is that true about Fox News? According to Snopes (who has been wrong on occasion):

    Monday, August 3, 2015 at 12:21 pm | Permalink
  8. ralph wrote:

    Hassan – you have to ask yourself, what would Republicans replace Obamacare with if they were to successfully repeal it? I haven’t heard a plan other than going back to the old system, which was unsustainable and why major change was needed. Admittedly, it’s not perfect and will be modified over time, but continuing to pretend that healthcare responds to normal market forces is delusional. The decades long hyper-inflation and distorted pricing unhinged from normal market forces of supply and demand (the $10 hospital aspirin is the classic example), was breaking the bank. There is simply no way for the average U.S. consumer to shop intelligently for healthcare like most other goods and services, with such an erratic and hidden pricing structure, and until healthcare receives the levels of oversight and regulation seen in other industrialized countries, we will continue to pay the exorbitant and unpredictable fees we’ve come to expect, and with poorer outcomes. There’s no reason why Medicare for all (i.e. single payer) can’t also exist alongside a secondary private insurance market for those who can afford or want supplemental coverage, as it does in Europe and Canada, for example. The recent mega-mergers of several large insurance companies is disturbing in this respect. Generally, when there are fewer market providers, prices go up and/or services decline (think airline industry).

    IK – I was in no way meaning to lump Fox Noise (or right wing radio) in with the rest of the news media, there in a league of their own. But unless you go out of your way, it’s easy to conclude the major news outlets are generally complicit with the political/corporate status quo. I don’t hear any Walter Cronkites out there decrying the futility and waste of the endless war in Afganistan, and there was little if any dissenting voices from the media before the Iraq invasion either. There is an apparent conflict of interest in the media’s craving for access to the wards of power and being too critical of those power structures, lest they risk being outcast and lose their bread and butter. A predictable outcome, perhaps, of the major networks mixing their news and entertainment divisions years ago.

    Monday, August 3, 2015 at 1:00 pm | Permalink
  9. ralph wrote:

    Speaking of which, I’m really gonna miss this guy when he drops the mike this week. Can we count on the new guy and crew to take up his sword and as well? Sigh.

    Monday, August 3, 2015 at 1:11 pm | Permalink
  10. Iron Knee wrote:

    HMM, I stand corrected. Thanks.

    Monday, August 3, 2015 at 1:35 pm | Permalink
  11. John wrote:

    If the ACA is repealed, then we will finally be able to go back to the years of 6-8% annual increases in health insurance costs AFTER reductions in coverage are negotiated with insurance companies in order to keep the increases that low. Oh, and the 10 million or so people who will lose their coverage.

    We forget how things were.

    We forget the economy we had in 2008, in which the banking system was in serious danger of failing and our major automobile manufacturers were in real danger of failing… and are still waiting for the indictments.

    We forget war.

    We forget the drills in the ’50s and ’60s where we, as students, were taught to hide under our desks during air raid drills, having been taught (wrongly) that we stood any chance of surviving a nuclear attack.

    We forget The Great Depression, the reasons for the Glass-Steagall Act and that the reason the economy did so well up until the non-war in Vietnam started emptying our collective bank account was that there WAS significant regulation of the way business was done.

    We forget, and so we are told (and believe) fairy tales about how great things would be if only…

    Monday, August 3, 2015 at 2:59 pm | Permalink
  12. ThatGuy wrote:

    I think the talking heads of the right have realized that there’s more hay (and cash) from having their party on the ropes. Easier to play the underdog than explain your own guys’ failures.

    Monday, August 3, 2015 at 5:12 pm | Permalink
  13. HMM wrote:

    Darn, I didn’t want to be right on that one.

    Monday, August 3, 2015 at 10:33 pm | Permalink