The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Is Fox News the Problem?

Posted on | January 17, 2012 | 25 Comments

After the debate last night, I talked to several people about the situation that we find ourselves in: Four days away from the crucial South Carolina primary and still we have three “not Romney” candidates — Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry — dividing up the conservative vote. Another 10 to 15 percent of the GOP primary vote here will probably go to Ron Paul, and thus it is altogether possible that Mitt Romney could win with less than 30 percent of the vote.

And so I ask: Is Fox News the problem?

This thought came to me this morning as I watched “Fox & Friends” and saw how, in the apparent interest of being “fair and balanced,” they distributed their attention between the various candidates. Knowing what an enormous influence the network has among conservative voters, is it possible that coverage by Fox News has played a major role in the way this campaign has developed?

Consider, for example, the case of Rick Perry. Traditionally, it has been said that there are “three tickets out of Iowa” — i.e., the top three finishers in the Iowa caucuses go on to contend for the nomination — and yet Perry, who placed a weak fifth in Iowa and didn’t even campaign in New Hampshire, is still running here in South Carolina despite the fact that polls show him likely to get less than 10 percent of the vote.

Would such a doomed and hopeless candidacy — the zombie shuffle of the undead Republican — be possible if it weren’t for the fact that the Perry campaign can count on Fox News covering them as if they were still a legitimate contender? And isn’t the availability of Fox News airtime a valuable resource that has been exploited by the GOP candidates, enabling them to keep campaigning even when the money starts drying up? And how has Fox News coverage more generally shaped public perception of the campaign? Have the prejudices of Fox News producers, reporters, analysts and anchors exercised a perceptible influence, a thumb on the scale as it were?

These are large and complex questions that I don’t have time to explore adequately this morning, because I’m supposed to be checking out of this motel and driving to Charleston today. But I wanted to throw it out there — discuss among yourselves — preparatory to linking my latest column for The American Spectator:

Mitt Romney came under the most intense fire he’s faced in a televised debate Monday night, hammered from the outset by his four remaining rivals for the Republican presidential nomination. And, according to one of his top advisers, Romney won.
“Governor Romney demonstrated tonight why he’s leading in South Carolina [and] why he’s leading nationally,” Eric Fehrnstrom said in the “spin room” where reporters gathered to get the post-debate perspective of candidates and their surrogates. “You heard him give strong answers about his business record, about Afghanistan and foreign policy, about his entitlement plan. And I think what these debates have turned into is a ‘get Mitt’ show, and anytime something like that happens and Mitt Romney comes out of it unscathed, then I think you can fairly conclude that he’s the winner.”
Whether Romney was “unscathed” in the debate here was, of course, disputed by the other campaigns. Rick Santorum’s campaign manager, Mike Biundo said his candidate “did really well.… He had a very pointed exchange with Governor Romney, showed that he certainly has debate skills and understands and has a command of the issues, and I think you’re going to need that in the fall.” . . .

Please read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Via Memeorandum, the headlines:

Attacks fly in Republican debate
The Hill

Forceful Attack Against
Romney in G.O.P. Debate

New York Times

Santorum Rattles Mitt Romney
— Buzz Feed


25 Responses to “Is Fox News the Problem?”

  1. Kitty Myers
    January 17th, 2012 @ 10:07 am

    I stopped watching Fox News years ago. I tune into Fox Business News for market reports, but it’s been a long time since I got any news from TV. 

  2. Anonymous
    January 17th, 2012 @ 10:23 am

    Fox News is a less offensive form of CNN  Which is not saying much.  I do like Chris Walace’s Sunday show, but even that I watch only intermittently.  If I want to hear from Hannity, I listen on the radio.  

    Oh, I read the Andrew “I won’t be ignored” Pro Obama screed so you do not have to.  All I can say is, don’t bother and go directly to Mark Levin’s Ameritropia (which has a very different conclusion)

  3. Anonymous
    January 17th, 2012 @ 10:37 am

    FNC is and has been making a concerted effort to bolster Romney.  I no longer watch FNC.  I’m tired of the Rove’s, the O’Reilly’s, the Perino’s and the Morris’s trying to dictate to us, the great unwashed masses, how to think.  If there is something worthwhile on FNC, I’ll wait until The Right Scoop shows it.  I don’t follow very many people on Twiiter, but I’ve found that those I do follow keep me abreast of important news. 

  4. richard mcenroe
    January 17th, 2012 @ 10:51 am

    I don’t watch TV much.  Landlord won’t let cable in the building cuz he’s trying to run the tenants out and when they switched to HD I just never bothered converting.  So I don’t watch much Fox.  From the little I see in public venues and such, yes, they’re partial to Romney… but would you have them ignore the lesser candidates?  Isn’t that ‘decider’ crap what we scorn the lefty media for?

    Here in LA, for example, the GOP has been informed that their mayoral candidate will not be permitted to participate in election debates.   Pot Party, yes, Greens, yes, GOP no.  Is that sort of selectivity desirable?

  5. richard mcenroe
    January 17th, 2012 @ 10:55 am

    Stacy, I like the Spectator better than NR, but they seriously need a Paulie filter in their commentariat.  Those assclowns are not there for debate, they’re only there to shut it down.

  6. guest
    January 17th, 2012 @ 11:07 am

    I have found myself more and more going to MSNBC during this primary season.  While that may not be the case in the general,  for the meantime it is Morning Joe for me with their substantive discussions on the primary race, rather than the drooling of Steve Doocy over Romney and the disdain for any other candidate than her former babysitter (Bachmann)  by Gretchen Carlson. 

  7. Paul Zummo
    January 17th, 2012 @ 11:15 am

    Yeah, the Spectator comments section is out of control.  On the other hand, we could just skip the comments.  Then again, we can’t, can we?  What is it that just compels us all to read the comments section even when we know all they’re going to do is anger up the blood?

  8. ltw
    January 17th, 2012 @ 11:22 am

    Listening to Americas Newsroom on Fox News Radio this morning the host was just parroting the talking point available at this morning.  It wasn’t until the host went to the on the ground reporter that it was mentioned that Romney tripped over himself in debate and that Gingrich and Santorum were strong.  Before that, the host had the most airtime and I felt like we were supposed to feel like Mitt was ganged up on…even though my eyes saw the Mitt tripping himself last night.  Stealing Newsweeks line and adjusting it a bit, “Why are Fox hosts so dumb?  Give the airtime to the real journalists in reporting.  Hosts should stop asking dumb question, and let the on the ground journalists report.”

    Ron Paul needs to use charts like Ross Perot did.

  9. ThePaganTemple
    January 17th, 2012 @ 11:27 am

    I watched Morning Joe for a little bit this morning. It was a helluva lot better than Fox And Fiends. Of course Donnie Deutsch is another one that’s obviously in the tank for Romney, and you know where all the others stand as well, but at least they’ve stopped the pretense.

  10. Anonymous
    January 17th, 2012 @ 11:38 am

    FOX news has been RINO central for a while now, and it is partially to blame for the “electability” memes and other various sorts of “arguments” against conservative candidates.  The CW has always been embraced by their collection of talking heads.  I can’t remember one (maybe Eric Bolling) having a contrarian viewpoint from the RINO status quo/RNC talking point memo.
    They have been for the Mittster for quite a while now.  Rove’s presence, and illumination as the “architect” only drives home the point.

  11. Michael Smith
    January 17th, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

    Just a question: if FOX News wasn’t there to even report on the conservatives in the race, who would have been getting all the media buzz?


    I do watch FOX because it is the only American news that I get in Scotland…but I would rather hear Romney love on Fox and Friends than Obama sycophantic banter on MSNBC.

  12. ltw
    January 17th, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

    Eric Fehrnstrom,Romney’s gives the same talking point that Fox News went with…the video is posted at Breitbart TV

  13. Finrod Felagund
    January 17th, 2012 @ 12:23 pm

    Why would anyone let the TV spoon-feed you what they think the news is instead of going onto the web and reading what you want for yourself?

  14. Mike G.
    January 17th, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

     So Stacy, do you plan on coming any where near Columbia or north of that? I’ll be in Columbia Friday, then back home to vote in the primary. After that, I’ll be going to Virginia to welcome my newest grandchild into the world. Should be any day now.

  15. Adjoran
    January 17th, 2012 @ 1:49 pm

    Okay, so Fox News is “in the tank for Romney” BECAUSE they pay too much attention to the other candidates?

    What contortions we allow our minds to perform to conform with our predetermined conclusions, eh?  As Richard McEnroe points out, would you prefer they had ignored Santorum and Gingrich entirely for all the time they spent in single digits?  I can just imagine your whining then.

    How lazy is it to proclaim Fox or any other outlet is “in the tank for Romney” without giving any examples at all?  Surely, if the bias is so evident, you should be able to hammer out dozens of examples and yet, so far, none.  Does the frontrunner get more coverage?  Do more of the pundits think the frontrunner will win?  Um, yeah, and when and on what network has it EVER been different?

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  17. ThePaganTemple
    January 17th, 2012 @ 3:09 pm

    I’ll give you your examples. Just take any given hour, subtract the number of minutes taken up by commercials, and there you have it.

    Strike while the iron’s hot Adjoran. Get to know some of these Fox pundits while they’re in SC. Your future career awaits.

  18. Charles
    January 17th, 2012 @ 4:02 pm

    You’re accusing that the establishment of supporting the establishment. What a dirty trick!

    Fox News also took away the flame from under the teapot and that was the end of Tea Party coverage.

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  20. John Day
    January 17th, 2012 @ 6:44 pm

    PPP showed that Mitt Romney would beat Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, and Ron Paul in individual head-to-head match-ups among South Carolina Republicans. Perhaps this talk about the anti-Romney vote is a bit overstated.

  21. richard mcenroe
    January 17th, 2012 @ 8:15 pm

    PPP couldn’t even predict Santorum winning IOWA.

  22. Bart Morgay
    January 18th, 2012 @ 1:42 am

    The only thing that is known for sure is that Fox is in the tank for whatever GOP nominee emerges.

  23. ThePaganTemple
    January 18th, 2012 @ 12:37 pm

    You mean like MSNBC is in the tank for Obama and would be even if they found out he was a cock-sucking coke addicted faggot, which he happens to be?

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