Fox News Is Trapped by Its Own Zealotry
Fear of losing viewers to more fervent purveyors of the Trump gospel ultimately ensnared the network in a $1.6 billion defamation suit
The fundamental issue that pervades the discussions among Fox executives is this: How much lying is too much? And how much is too little?
It’s not a moral question — certainly not at Fox. A baseline of fraud is built into Fox’s business model. The network that began with founder Roger Ailes insisting that his female anchors perform a twirl for him in private (along with his litany of other sexual abuse) has been spinning ever more frantically in recent years. Yet Fox remained sufficiently idiosyncratic — its propaganda varies day to day, host to host — that it has generally been easier to say what Fox isn’t (journalism) than what it is.
Understanding DeSantis and Trump
Trump’s politics were undoubtedly reactionary, but they also included a perverse sort of democratic demand and reflected a crisis of political representation. He attracted the support of those, without any particular prior ideological commitments, who felt left out of the system. Although he governed from the hard right and successfully courted its constituencies, he did not appear to be a doctrinaire conservative and departed from Republican orthodoxy when it suited him. In fact, Trump’s lack of ideology or ideological flexibility is what contributed to him seeming fascist to me. He represented a broad sense of wounded national pride, to be avenged through the force of his own sheer self assertion. He also offered a spectacular ride: he said to his followers, in effect, “with me, you are taking part in history.” And he offered lots of sadistic kicks, scorning and menacing the establishment with sarcasm and mockery. Enjoyment was a big part of the equation in the case of Trump.
As I joked on Twitter, in the sense that fascism requires a charismatic leader, I think we can safely say that the DeSantis phenomenon is not fascist.
Is there a good deal of over-the-top cant and hyperbole in political life and writing? Of course, but you can’t really police it, just approach the questions in the way you think is appropriate. In fact, the rhetoric of “Calm down!” is the same as “You are not feeling the moral urgency of this enough!” — they are both kind of insufferable public poses: if you think it’s important to be calm and analytical, be calm and analytical, if you think it’s important to warn of imminent danger, then do so.
Again, being analytical and even-keeled is a disposition that helps with intellectual clarity, but being savvy is just a pose, it imparts no actual knowledge, only the appearance of being knowledgeable.
Being savvy is just a pose, it imparts no actual knowledge. Keep that in mind as you both read and get annoyed at the pundits.
Brian Stelter/Air Mail:
The Smear Heard Round the World
In the weeks after the 2020 election, Maria Bartiromo’s Fox News talk show became an open mike for Trump’s self-serving conspiracy theories
Confessions from Rupert Murdoch, regret-tinged e-mails from his underlings, expletive-laden texts from Fox stars. Dominion v. Fox News is putting Succession to shame. And as the case careens toward trial, the main character is not Tucker Carlson or Sean Hannity. It’s Maria Bartiromo.
Bartiromo is named 95 times in the plaintiff’s recent legal brief and 69 times in Fox’s recent response, exceeding the mentions of her better-known colleagues. Dominion is alleging that Bartiromo was present at the creation of a malicious myth that warrants $1.6 billion in damages. Fox, citing the same TV segments, is arguing that Bartiromo did her job responsibly.
Dems want to cut Fox off after lawsuit revelations
The icing of Fox News — the ratings-leading network — would include starving the company of advertising dollars and pulling the biggest Democratic stars from the airwaves.
For years, Democrats have been engaged in a debate over whether the party should shun the cable news giant or grudgingly use its airwaves to run counterprogramming. But in the midst of the latest saga, a newer type of reaction has emerged: that they should sever all ties, including any money spent advertising on the network.
“There is nothing in those documents to show they operate like a real news organization,” said Doug Gordon, a Democratic strategist. “If you are running a campaign in 2024, how do you in good faith hand your ads to Fox when you know they handed them over to Republicans? If there are any general election debates, how do you let Fox be a moderator?”
Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent/The Washington Post:
The GOP’s epic defeat on health care is laid bare in North Carolina
But in the near-decade since [ACA], health-care advocates have painstakingly overcome that opposition, and many of those states have now embraced the expansion. Between this and the failure of years of ACA repeal drives, the GOP has essentially been routed in the Obamacare wars.
The scale of this defeat is evident in big news out of North Carolina, where leaders in the GOP-controlled legislature announced a deal Thursday to accept the expansion. It will require hospitals to pay the state’s minimal contribution to the cost. (The federal government generally funds 90 percent.)
The GOP’s Medicaid expansion equation: On the one hand, it is money that helps the people of our state, all of them, likely majority white, and our voter, and will help with health and reducing poverty.
On the other hand, Barack Obama is Black.
Hmm … tough one. 🤔 It will take years to sort out.
Natalie Jackson/National journal:
The three Republican factions: Non-cons, normie-cons, and disaffected leaners
Any Republican seeking the presidential nomination will have to assemble a coalition.
It’s relatively easy to see which elected officials and Republican elites are in the return-to-normal camp and which are not. It’s much less clear where the potential Republican electorate sits. I’ve been crunching loads of survey data over the last few months, and I’ve generally concluded that the potential Republican voters split roughly evenly into three camps: non-cons, normie-cons, and disaffected leaners.
That first group doesn’t fit into most plausible definitions of “normalcy.” These are “non-cons” because they are not really conservative Republicans. They are chaos-mongers, driven by former President Trump’s “Make America Great Again”-style culture war. They are more distinguished by their feelings about people not like them—immigrants, foreign influence, LGBTQ people, and non-Christians—as threats than by specific policy outcomes.
Non-cons’ policy preferences are sometimes muddled, particularly on economic issues, and their isolationism (which we’re seeing in the conflict over support for Ukraine) is out of line with typical Republican defense priorities. All of this makes it difficult to classify them within a conservative Republican paradigm, hence “non-cons.” Non-con voters overwhelmingly voted for and have strongly favorable views of Trump—and they also broadly like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, another expected 2024 contender. They generally say they are strong Republicans, but ideologically identify as a mix of conservative and moderate. About three-quarters of them are voters.
And here’s a follow up opinion to an issue we covered over the weekend, regarding Atlanta and Buckhead:
Bill Torpy/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Buckhead crazy train halted. Hopefully for good
It’s asinine that we’ve still been talking about the malignant Buckhead secession effort.
I’ve written before how deannexing the rich parts of a city — any city — to create a newer one is a race to the bottom and would tear communities apart.
But Lazarus got revived by a corps of cityhood zealots and conservative rural pols who find it useful — and popular with their base — to bash Atlanta.