05 October 2006

Considering Message and Messenger

Fox News is 10 years old this week. You needn't buy a gift, but it may be a good time for some to reconsider their prejudices.

Fox's real ethos is not Republican but anti-elitist — a major reason it connects with so many Americans and annoys so many coastal elites. "There's a whole country that elitists will never acknowledge," (Roger) Ailes once observed. "What people resent deeply out there are those in the "blue states' thinking they're smarter."

Fox's opinion-driven programming gives conservatives and liberals a chance to get a hearing for their ideas. But Democratic politicians and activists who go on Fox also must defend their views, often against tough questioning, something that happens less often on the networks, where most journalists are left-of-center, survey after survey has shown.

Nothing would please liberals more than to drag the nation back to the days when The New York Times and CBS News determined what was newsworthy. A group of congressional Democrats has warned Fox to end its supposed anti-Democratic bias — or else. Should Democrats retake Congress, an effort to shut down, or at least muzzle, Fox, is far from inconceivable, creepy and illiberal as that sounds.

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