Roger Ailes thinks so little of his audience and of Americans in general that he thinks he can sell y’all this whopper: Fox News employs one conservative and 24 liberals.
Yes. According to Ailes, Sean Hannity is the “conservative” (aka: clown/thug/bully, not to be confused with non-clown thug and bully Bill O’Reilly).
Media Matters reported Ailes as saying:
Well, first, I separate out news from programming. If you’re talking about programming, we noticed that all the talk shows on the other networks basically had progressive or liberal talk show hosts. We have one conservative on FOX News, Sean Hannity. Quite open about it, that’s what he is, that’s what he does, that’s his framework, that’s where he comes from. Others tend to be libertarians or populists or you can’t really tell.
Last week, according to reports from Ailes’ lecture at Ohio University, the Fox chairman boasted about the array of progressives he employs:
Ailes defended his network, saying he was not politically biased compared with competitors MSNBC and CNN. Ailes said he employs 24 “liberals,” which distinguishes him from those networks who feature fewer dissenting opinions.
Count the strawman, moving goal posts and shell games.
Ailes said, “we noticed that all the talk shows on the other networks basically had progressive or liberal talk show hosts.” Clearly, all of the talk shows and talk show hosts are not liberals. Has he watched David Gregory repeat Republican talking points on Meet the Press, heard of CNN’s Dana Loesch, radio’s Rush Limbaugh, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough or CNN’s Erick Erickson?
Ailes is selling his network as the network of dissenting opinion. Perhaps he’s been watching CNN, in which case, I might have to agree with Ailes if we’re grading based on a comparison.
But Ailes can hardly take refuge in CNN’s deliberate loss of respectability, after all, CNN is copying Fox News. They use the exact same formula of repeating lies, arguing minor pints while accepting completely implausible and provably inaccurate premises, and then ask questions like “The President’s birth certificate: Fair game?”
We also must note that the hapless leader of the propaganda network appears to think that Americans do not know the difference between a Libertarian, Liberal and populist. Ailes thinks he can use those terms interchangeably and the audience won’t know the difference.
Of course, if they watch Fox News, chances are they don’t know the difference. But it doesn’t really matter what he calls it, after all, Fox News brands itself to conservatives as a conservative network (or they did until recently), and yet the ideas sold at Fox have very little relationship to authentic conservative thought. Fox News is more Tea Party-ish, selling corporate friendly policies under the guise of “social and fiscal conservatism.”
A real fiscal conservative wouldn’t back Romney/Ryan budget plans that would cut our revenue even further. A real fiscal conservative would want us to pay our bills and would understand that we need money to do that. A real fiscal conservative will admit that most of these bills come from the two wars Bush left off of the budget, something else a real fiscal conservative would never do.
By claiming that Fox News is liberal, Ailes is attempting once again to do both reframe political argument further to the Right and also claim legitimacy for his network.
The truth is that it doesn’t matter what opinions his hosts have; that is not what distinguishes them from MSNBC and even CNN, although Fox viewers like to play that strawman game. The real difference is that no other network contributed one million dollars to the RGA as parent company News Corp did in 2010, prompting Politico to write, “The company’s media outlets play politics more openly than most, but the huge contribution to a party committee is a new step toward an open identification between Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. and the GOP.”
No other network has passed the Senate Republican Communications Center press releases off as their own research and ran them as “news” replete with original errors or coordinated talking points with the White House, “The Bush White House routinely gave talking points to Fox News commentators — but not journalists — in order to influence discourse and content. McClellan stated that these talking points were not issued to provide the public with news, but were issued to provide Fox News commentators with issues and perspectives favorable to the White House and Republican Party.”
Ailes likes to pretend it’s all about opinion, because that is a matter of opinion. He can keep moving the shell in that game and no one can definitively stake a claim. But no other network sued for the right to lie and call it news. No other network had the cousin of the Republican party presidential candidate calling a state for “their” presidential candidate when all other networks were waiting for a vote count in a statistical dead heat (Bush/Florida):
The genesis of this call, and in particular the chronology of the ensuing echos are telling. The story began on election night at 2:16 AM. Fox News projected George W. Bush as winner of the Florida primary and the Presidential election. In a classic case of pack journalism that college professors will no doubt cite for years to come, ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN all followed Fox’s lead during the next four minutes, calling the election for Bush.
The telling part of this story is that the call was made by John Ellis, a freelance political advisor contracted by Fox News to head their election night “decision desk.” Ellis is also first cousin to George W. Bush and Florida governor John Ellis “Jeb” Bush.
… During the election, Ellis took to the editorial pages of The Globe, defending George W. against charges of cocaine abuse, writing that he personally knew Bush was not a “cocaine addict” since he has been close with his cousin for a very long time. Hence it was not surprise, recently, when Ellis proclaimed, “I am loyal to my cousin…. I put that loyalty ahead of my loyalty to anyone else.”
A Fox reporter said of the uncounted Florida ballots, “George Bush is going to be president. And who needs to know that he’s not a legitimate president?”
No other network was denied access to Canada due to CRTC regulations against deliberate lies in news content.
Canada’s Radio Act requires that “a licenser may not broadcast … any false or misleading news.” The provision has kept Fox News and right-wing talk radio out of Canada and helped make Canada a model for liberal democracy and freedom.
Also, no other network is owned by a corporation that is being investigated world wide for hacking, inappropriate access to political officials and police, and standing accused of dictating policy to the conservatives in charge.
So long as people continue to buy into the frame that it’s a matter of “opinion”, Fox News keeps on winning. It’s not opinion; it’s fact. And it’s not opinion that is the problem at Fox, though their opinions tend to the odious and inaccurate. The problem is what they are doing with their influence, the lies they tell, the money they have in the game, and the way the mainstream media chases after the lies as if they are real.
It doesn’t matter what we call it- Liberal, Libertarian, Conservative or Populist. So long as Ailes can keep the shell game going, our political dialogue will continue to suffer from the corporate agenda ridden slings and arrows of flat out lies being sold as fact and political interference deceptively sold as merely “opinion”.
You have to give Ailes credit, though, for he never fails to find a way to paint liberals with the toxic brush of Fox’s actions.
Image: John Sherffius