Fox News Doesn’t Represent Conservatives

Well, OK. No offense to Roger Simon but he was expecting too much. Fox News is a business that has done well by catering to audiences — on the Center and Right of the political spectrum — that the other media companies ignored.

Conservatives and libertarians like to complain about Bill O’Reilly because he is an annoying blowhard, a bully and a suck-up interviewer who claims to be conservative but allows himself to be used by leftist pols. Why does the supposedly conservative network continue to employ O’Reilly? Because he has a huge audience and makes the network a lot of money. Making money is what Roger Ailes is about. He’s not in business to foster conservatism. He caters to a conservative audience because that’s where the money has been, but as other networks have moved even farther to the left he can now pick off even more of their audience by moving Fox to the left. It’s not like Fox’s conservative and libertarian audience has alternative sources of TV news.

Fox is a bit like the Republican Party. If your organization is the only game in town for people on your side of the issues, you can maximize your constituency/votes/donations/budget/profit by being squishy enough to capture some of your ideological competitors’ audience. So now James Carville and Bob Beckel work for Fox.

Conservatives and libertarians should avoid dependency on one news network, just as members of any constituency should avoid being dependent on one political party.

16 thoughts on “Fox News Doesn’t Represent Conservatives”

  1. Apparently, Fox Business is now positioned as the libertarian network. They have Stossell, Kennedy, and Matt Welch on there.

  2. I agree that the Internet is a better source of news than is TV. I’m arguing that conservatives and libertarians who pay attention to TV should not expect Fox to support conservative or libertarian positions.

  3. I second Jonathan on Bill O’Reilly. I don’t generally watch TV news. The bandwidth is too low. But, I think that the 6:00 p.m. Special Report is the best TV news show currently on the air.

  4. TV is categorically below the intellectual level of the contributors to this blog and most of our readers.

    And Jonathan is right. Fox exist to make money from an otherwise under served market. That’s all. There should be opportunities for other conservative and libertarian media outlets that are rational rather than shrill, but they will be niche products.

  5. “…rational rather than shrill…” This is why I have been spending more time on my Bloomberg app as of the last six months or so. Fantastic interviews, nobody yelling or talking over each other, lots of movers and shakers who have very interesting ideas and viewpoints.

    For the most part, the Bloomberg crew seems to me to be mostly politically agnostic, which is refreshing. YMMV.

  6. There is a difference between the news gathering and the news presentation operation that is becoming more and more clear to me. Both sides of the news business are sick but from different diseases. So long as we conflate the two, we’re going to come up with bad diagnoses. In terms of news gathering, you’ve got a large list of stories that are underinvestigated, under-covered. In terms of news presentation, you’ve got the low information density problem, poor curation, and the tendency to make things a horse race or gladiatorial combat. The ideological issue is mostly on the news gathering side. The complaints on Fox are more about presentation and their tendency to lower the tone instead of raising it.

  7. What has fascinated me for years is how many news organizations — almost all of them on the left — do not try to maximize profits.

    For example, here in the Seattle area (King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties), Republican candidates still usually get about 40 percent of the vote. But in the last ten years I don’t know of any Seattle news organization that has tried to appeal to that 40 percent. Sometimes they even go out of their way to offend them. For example, the Blethen heir at the Seattle Times dropped Krauthammer’s column a few years ago.

    I don’t know of a single news organization in the United States that has noted how popular the Daily Mail has become here, passing the New York Times in page views, and has learned from that success.

    Similarly, as Michael Medved has been saying for years, Hollywood has been giving up very large amounts of money by refusing to make movies that some audiences want to see. Example: The studios made a number of anti-war movies while Bush was president. All, or almost all, of them lost money, but the studios kept making them.

    (There’s an old article by Edward Jay Epstein on how ABC TV remade itself during the Nixon administration, moving to the center — and profited from the transformation. It is worth reading, and I think it is now available as part of a Kindle collection of his articles.)

  8. Hollywood is getting smarter about one thing.
    Last year with Argo and Zero Dark Thirty and now this year with Lone Survivor and Captain Philips prove movies with the CIA and Navy Seals are big winners.

    Best Comeback for a production team should go to Katheryn Bigelow after producing the Anti-American Soldier movie the Hurt Locker, they bounced back with something actually accurate that people actually want to watch.

  9. I don’t think people realize how small a minority of Americans watch or even pay attention to ANY of the major news outlets, even down to the NYTimes. They are not the voice of our country, and they aren’t even the primary outlet for political debate. Increasingly they are not even the primary vector for transmission of news. But they still have a visibility and an assumption of gravitas that has carried over from the past, most of it completely unwarranted at this point.

  10. Conservatives and libertarians should avoid dependency on one news network, just as members of any constituency should avoid being dependent on one political party.

    I stopped watching network news decades ago, from irritation at all the commercials. I decided that I could get more news in less time by reading the paper. These days, Internet.

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