Fox News Not Conservative
So says E.D. Kain:
Fox News is simply not conservative. The fact of the matter is, I find NPR and even News Hour more conservative than Fox – but in a different sense, I suppose, than the standard boiler plate conservatism that has so infested American politics. What I mean to say is that the conservatism of Fox News tends to be wrapped up in loud, divisive, trashy television that is cheap and ugly and reactionary and essentially all things distasteful that conservatives should look at with scorn and antipathy. The measured, reserved, thoughtful and culturally sensible tone of NPR is far more conservative. I’d rather my kids listen to it than watch Glenn Beck. I’d rather they listen to Fresh Air than Rush Limbaugh. Why have conservatives let go of the high culture war? Why have they conceded defeat there – in the arts, in literature, in music – trading it instead for trash television and cheap rhetoric?
Now, I’d disagree with the counter-premise that the Left is somehow more highbrow. I don’t know that MSNBC is any less histrionic than FOX or that lefty talk radio is sweetness and light — or even that every show on FOX is lowbrow (“Special Report” was worth watching in Brit Hume’s day, as was “Fox News Sunday”). And comparing mainstream NPR programming with unabashedly partisan shows is rather unfair. But much of what passes for conservative commentary has certainly strayed from the path of William F. Buckley, Jr.
The particular case of Glenn Beck is interesting. I watched a couple episodes of his Headline News show before growing bored and haven’t seen his Fox show, aside from a handful of clips on the blogs and other television shows. From what I gather, he comes across as a raving lunatic who’s afraid of his own shadow.
The reason this fascinates me is that, perhaps three or four years ago, I was a regular listener to his talk radio show, which was on in the afternoons when I was making the 45-minute commute from my then-job to my then-home. He was a bit more emotional than the typical show host, which I ascribed to his personal story of recovery from a series of poor personal choices, but seemed like a genuinely decent fellow trying to make sense of the world. This was well after the shock of the 9/11 attacks, so the subsequent stylistic change is not part of the “everything” that changed on that fateful day. So, I’m honestly flummoxed as to where the current incarnation of Beck came from.
Meanwhile, the leading lights of liberal commentary, comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, are taking the approach pioneered by Rush Limbaugh of making fun of the other side in a way that’s genuinely entertaining. They don’t come across as afraid of or hating conservatives but as simply bemused by their opponents. [To clarify, I'm not arguing that Stewart and Colbert are Limbaugh imitators; they're not. But Limbaugh was a pioneer in combining political commentary and humor in a way to attract a mass audience on a weekdaily basis.]
Regardless, I’d have to agree that I’d much rather spend an afternoon with your average NPR host — or, goodness, Stewart or Colbert — than most of the ranting loons passing themselves off as the voice of conservatism these days.