Fox News and the 'Both Sides' Issue
For at least the last nine years, Sean Hannity of the Fox News Channel has been telling us that “journalism in America is dead.” During Obama’s first campaign, Sean was a lone voice warning anyone who would listen about what Obama actually was: a radical leftwing ideologue. But folks didn’t listen, and so we got eight wasted years and a deeply divided America.
On August 18, the Washington Post ran “To curtail hate, James Murdoch must clean house at Fox News” by Jennifer Rubin. She accused James Murdoch, son of Rupert and CEO of 21st Century Fox (which owns Fox News) of hypocrisy, and added: “Murdoch seems blissfully unaware of -- or in denial about -- his family’s role in creating the Trump phenomenon, fueling the rise of a xenophobic, racist demagogue and continuing to fan the flames of his noxious populism, which has brought us to where we are.”
If Ms. Rubin has a vendetta against Fox it may be because she’s acquitted herself poorly there. Here is a video of Bill O’Reilly taking her to the woodshed for being utterly unprepared to appear on “The Factor.” A few weeks later, Tucker Carlson had Rubin on his Fox show (video) where she was again silly and unprofessional. Perhaps it’s the Post that needs to clean house.
Ms. Rubin is a blogger. Her blog at the Post is “Right Turn” and her bio-line says it offers “reported opinion from a conservative perspective.” It’s difficult to see what’s conservative about her perspective. She appears quite comfortable throwing around the Left’s usual cheap charges of hate, racism, xenophobia, and immorality. Rubin does not have the demeanor of a serious analyst. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, the owner of the Post, might want to consider keeping her off TV. Or maybe he could find a blogger who’s an actual conservative. One only has to look at Rubin’s blog headlines to suspect that she’s a rabid anti-Trumper.
It’s doubtful that there is any other news story where the anti-Trump media has been as nakedly obvious as in the ruckus over President Trump’s remarks about the August 12 incident in Charlottesville. The anti-Trumpers criticize the president for speaking of “both sides”; of supposedly making an equivalency of the neo-Nazi, KKK, white-supremacist side of the skirmish and the alt-left, Antifa side. But if one wants an evenhanded report of what Trump actually said in the aftermath of Charlottesville, then one must tune in to Fox News.
In “Are President Trump's new Charlottesville remarks enough?” (9 min. video) on the August 14 edition of Fox’s “Special Report,” Mollie Hemingway sat on a panel with three men and pushed back against the narrative:
It’s like we’re living in an alternate reality here. People are […] not listening to what Donald Trump actually said on Saturday and they’re not reading the actual full comments that he gave, where he was explicitly denouncing bigotry and violence, where he called on people to come together.
And the fact is there actually is a violence problem on both the left and the right. In recent years Americans have seen violent protests everywhere from Portland, Berkeley, Ferguson, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, Brooklyn, Baltimore. All throughout the country people have experienced these violent protests.
There was an assassination attempt against Republicans by a totally mainstream, progressive, leftist activist. And there is a problem on all sides and people need to come together to denounce all of those things and not tar the entire Democratic Party as being part of the leftist violence and not tar the entire Republican Party as part of the rightist violence.
Ms. Hemingway demonstrated that she was one journalist who wasn’t buying the media’s received wisdom, and she won that debate handily. And then the next night on “Special Report” (7 min. video), Laura Ingraham sparred with Charles Krauthammer on the “both sides” issue and how the MSM has got it all wrong, and again, the lady came out on top. Krauthammer is usually a very solid analyst, but when he spoke of “what’s in his heart,” he stepped in it. Miss Laura immediately shot back: “You can read a heart, wow, you really are a PhD.”
The anti-Trump media wants to be taken seriously as analysts but without doing much analysis, (except for psychoanalysis). We’re expected to accept whatever these people say as the assessments of sophisticated, highly moral, and wise people, not the partisan rants of those who want to bring down a president or at least slow down his agenda.
The “method” of the anti-Trump media is to report their assessments without showing the steps that got them there. They trot out their final judgments but not the supporting detail. If they did report more of the facts, they’d have to defend their conclusions. So in the anti-Trump media we’re treated to judgments without much in the way of argument.
The president was right to refer to “both sides.” The alt-right had a permit to demonstrate, the alt-left did not have a permit. The alt-left could have stayed away from the demonstration, but instead chose to attend and mix it up with the alt-right. The mayor of Charlottesville could have deployed police to keep the two groups apart, but that doesn’t seem to have been a priority for him.
The anti-Trump media don’t seem to know how to think about these events. So here’s a question for them: What if the car incident with its death and injuries hadn’t happened, what kind of story would the press be reporting then? If they were honest, they’d write of two radical extremist groups who got into a rumble. And they’d have to lay most of the blame on the alt-left side, as they had no permit to be there. If the alt-left had stayed away, we’d have had a non-story story.
If the anti-Trump media weren’t so busy trying to ruin Trump, they might report that “both sides” in Charlottesville, the neo-Nazis and the Antifa, are rather similar. They might even ask whether Antifa is fascist, as it certainly uses the violent street tactics of Blackshirts and Brownshirts. That “both sides” could be fascist would be too much for the MSM to wrap its head around. That “both sides” are more alike than they’d like to admit is inconvenient for the narrative. If one side is worse than the other, so what; both groups are repellent, un-American bands of outlaws, and are national embarrassments, especially in the pathetic way they fight.
After faring so poorly on “The Factor,” Rubin must have rejoiced when O’Reilly left Fox News. But FNC had already been “cleaning house,” dropping Greta van Susteren, Megyn Kelly, and suspending Charles Payne and Eric Bolling. (By the way, the new shows with Tucker Carlson and Martha MacCallum are terrific.)
Changing the “thrust” of Fox News would be a monumentally bad business decision for James Murdoch. CNN, MSNBC, the BBC, and the networks have a monolithic sameness that is all lockstep left. Fox is the alternative, and about the only one, which is why FNC’s been #1 for so long. Without Fox News, America would be much farther down the road to fascism. The establishment media needs to emulate Fox News and start reporting “both sides.”
Jon N. Hall of Ultracon Opinion is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City.