Fox TV versus The New York Times
Tibor R. Machan
My team of media researchers is on vacation just now, so I have to do this by myself, based on my non-scientific study of the journalistic lay of the land. What I have concluded from years of observation is that Fox-TV news is widely scoffed at by erudite folks, just the kind who routinely reads The New York Times. The alleged basis for the disdain is that Fox is obviously biased whereas the Old Gray Lady is impeccably objective.
But this is, I have concluded, a misimpression from the git go, at least as far as political and public policy coverage are concerned. Take just the design of The Times’ Op Ed page. Its regular columnists, Paul Krugman, David Brooks, et al., are nearly all echoing the editorial philosophy that’s guiding the paper. Sure, Brooks is less harshly mainstream liberal and on occasion will defend a conservative line but lately less and less so. Moreover, he is so ambivalent in his views that they offer no contrast to the rest of the Leftist claptrap produced as opinion and analysis by the paper.
Now there are some contributors to The Times who appear in its business section who don’t toe the line but this doesn’t count for much. The news analyses, so called, that the paper publishes in its “Sunday Week” section and in the Sunday magazine is uniformly statist, favoring big government and the extension of Washington’s killer deficit public finance philosophy. (The occasional exceptions deal with civil libertarian matters, excluding the civil rights of people in the business community.) The likes of Ron Paul, who champions free markets and free minds with equal intensity, rarely get a respectful treatment so that anyone who promotes fiscal responsibility is dismissed as hating the poor, etc. Those marching in protest in Greece against efforts to rein in state profligacy might well have gotten their orders from The Times’s editorials.
Of course, when it comes to basic rights for those in the business community, forget about it. Business corporations are made up of monsters and deserve no recognition of their rights, not even ones listed in the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. When the Supreme Court recently ruled that such organizations have free speech rights, The Times was all over them, never mind that when it went before the court, in the famous Sullivan v. New York Times case, the paper benefited from the court’s view that corporations are made up for human beings who have the same rights everyone else does.
Fox TV news is no doubt conservative in its political and economic outlook, although it’s by no means libertarian, even civil libertarian. John Stossel is constantly debating with Bill O’Reilly about civil libertarian issues such as the fascist drug laws of the country. Judge Andrew Napolitano, who no longer has his own libertarian program but is still referred to as Fox TV’s expert on legal matters, including the U. S. Constitution, has no patience with denying gays the right to marry or other right wing causes. The roundtable programs on Fox usually include an intelligent left of center voice, even on the Fox business channel.
Of course people like O’Reilly and Sean Hannity are no holds barred right wingers, at least as this is understood in American culture in our time (although critics who throw around the label usually make no distinction between a Right Wing outlook such as the latin American fascist sort now exhibited by the Venezuela’s leftist Hugo Chavez and that espoused by Mitt Romney, for example). Yet no one on Fox TV ever expressed the kind of brutal hatred toward ideological adversaries that one finds in Paul Krugman’s New York Times columns.
For Fox TV to match the left wing political economic slant of The New York Times with someone, it would have to feature champions of Benito Mussolini or General Pinochet and the like, not O’Reilly and Hannity! And it would have to stop featuring left of center spokespeople on its panels.
I am generally of the “plague on both your houses” outlook when it comes to the statism of the Left and the Right but because of what American conservatives are conserving, namely, a mixture of ideas that includes those laid out in the Declaration of Independence, I am often more sympathetic to the Right than the Left (except in matters of the American Right’s current imperialist foreign policy). What is most objectionable to me about the American Left is its constant and routine support for government meddling in the economy, its endless championing of government regulation of nearly everything under the sun. Not that the Right, such as David Brooks, rejects this but its call for it is less insistent than what we get from the Left night and day, rain or shine.