What Does FAUX News Do During Obama Administration?
James asked me the other night as we were watching the election coverage what FAUX News would do without having a Republican in the White House. I laughed. But then I started thinking how totally absurd their programming might become, based on what it already is. Will the blond bimbo’s ‘reporting’ the news hike their skirts or show even more cleavage? Will Sean Hannity glower even more at his guests, and even bare his teeth in more sinister smiles? Will they all go verablly postal 24/7 at Faux News in thier zeal to be ‘bat-shit crazy and unhinged’?
In this hour of GOP discontent, a split has occurred in the American right. It roughly looks like this: One group of conservative intellectuals–David Frum and David Brooks come to mind–has argued that the Republican Party is out of step with the country and unwilling to advocate an agenda for middle-class Americans. For its troubles, this faction has been attacked by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, who accuses Barack Obama of fomenting racism and lately seems to exist, along with his 20 million listeners, in his own universe. Limbaugh and his ilk (Andrew McCarthy and Mark Steyn on National Review’s The Corner, radio host Mark Levin, and others) think the Republicans have run a weak campaign, and need to exhibit more anger and aggression in their confrontations with Democrats and the media. (Signs of clique membership: adoring Sarah Palin; cursing McCain for not bringing up Jeremiah Wright.)
As the right’s main television outlet, Fox News’s role in this debate–which is certain to become more heated after Tuesday–will heavily influence conservatism’s next four years. And if my marathon watching session is any indication, Fox has chosen its side in the conservative civil war. Not so much partisan as simply angry, Fox looks to be cocooning itself: Boosting McCain’s policies and character has taken a backseat to chronicling the obsessions of right-wing talk radio and blogs. (This is the crucial difference between Fox and MSNBC, which is remarkably good at staying on Obama’s message.) To watch the channel in the final days of Decision 2008 is to enter a world where ACORN, media bias, Obama’s campaign financing, and Fox News itself are the central storylines of the election. Once the network of optimistic, flag-waving jingoism, Fox has become a beacon of sky-is-falling fury.