David French, a staff writer for the conservative news site National Review, just gave a breathtakingly refreshing assessment of how the Republican Party became the party of Trump, and he accurately identifies the main culprit: Fox News.
Democrats and liberals have long known Fox News would have this effect on the party. One can not simply create a network that props up duds with no journalism chops like Sean Hannity or frothy outrage machines like Bill O’Reilly to put a conservative spin on every single issue that pops up in our society without it having some negative side effects on the voter base.
French says simply:
It’s killing the conservative movement.”
French describes what Fox News has done is created a bubble, where conservatives talk to true believers, but that it has very little actual influence to reach a broader audience.
Fox has constructed a big, beautiful, and lucrative gated community — a comfortable conservative cocoon.
The result is clear: Conservatives gain fame, power, and influence mainly by talking to each other. They persuade each other of the rightness of their ideas and write Fox-fueled best-selling books making arguments that Fox viewers love. The sheer size of the audience lulls minor political celebrities into believing that they’re making a cultural and political difference. But they never get a chance to preach to the unconverted.
But French says what makes Fox News the biggest bane to the conservative party isn’t that it’s an echo chamber, it’s that it’s a commercial enterprise. And commercial enterprises are there to make money, which means that if the topic doesn’t sell, it doesn’t get discussed. That is why, French says, the network has spent four exhaustive years on the topic of Benghazi — it sells — even though that dead horse has been brutally beaten, burned, turned to ash, the ashes resculpted into the shape of a horse and beaten again.
The result is a world in which many individual conservatives just keep failing up. Fox is the place where you can nurse grievances over failed arguments. It’s the place where you can make money after failed campaigns. Do you wonder why the GOP had 17 presidential primary candidates? In part because there were actually two primary contests — the race for the nomination and the auditions for Fox.
Looking at you, Dr. Ben Carson. Before Carson, it was Huckabee, who failed in his 2008 presidential campaign but landed a nice timeslot on Fox News to host a show. And if you noticed, the 17 Republican candidates were all “Fox News famous” in the sense that they had stirred up controversy over President Obama’s presidency that they were regular guests on Fox News shows.
French also points out this interesting fact:
Fox News went on the air in October 1996. Since that time, the GOP has won the popular vote for president exactly once: in 2004, by a whopping 2.4 percent. If Hillary Clinton wins in November, as appears likely, the GOP will have lost the popular vote in five of the six presidential elections since Fox broke the liberal media monopoly.
French says “the conservative movement is a victim of Fox’s success” and that until conservative leaders can create influence outside the bubble, the Republican party just may keep sinking.
Fox News created Donald Trump. They molded him, and loved him, and clung to every inflammatory tweet, nourished his belief in the birth conspiracy, and gave him a platform before he even announced his candidacy. But what’s popular in 30-second sound bites isn’t necessarily good for the country. And that’s what the Republican Party is only now starting to realize.
Now, French is someone I don’t agree with politically on almost everything (aside from the fact that Trump would be an utter disaster as president). But his assessment of Fox News is spot on, and it’s great seeing the Republican Party members slowly start to wake up and realize that the bottle they’ve been drinking from has finally started taking a drink from them.
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