David Frum, the conservative speechwriter for W, who criticized Congressional Republicans for their healthcare strategy, has lost his job at the American Enterprise Institute due to AEI donor pressure. In an interview with ABC (I can’t get the embed to work), he makes an astute observation.
Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us and now we’re discovering we work for Fox. And this balance here has been completely reversed. The thing that sustains a strong Fox network is the thing that undermines a strong Republican party.
Fox is the 800 lb. gorilla of the right. (Rush Limbaugh is the 700 lb. gorilla, though he looks like he’s put on a few pounds lately.) I don’t watch Fox enough to know if it ever criticizes the GOP Congressional leadership for being too extreme, but if its right-wing agenda is putting the GOP in a box with a padlock on it, the implications for both are intriguing.
If some of the more moderate Republicans start to exert themselves, can they withstand the Fox assault? If they begin to boycott Fox because they would get pummeled, can the network sustain itself with only the most strident voices? I’m told that Fox actually has a good following among independent voters. Will they desert the network if it is only the wing nuts? GOP leadership as guests must give it some seal of approval to independents, and if they leave, will a part of its audience?
MSNBC, most notably Chris Matthews, has a few right-of-center guests. I’m not sure if Rachel Maddow tries hard to get the other side and is shunned. I wouldn’t be surprised if Olbermann avoids them; he seems only capable of pandering questions to the left. Matthews and especially Maddow can hold their own, so it’s a disappointment to me that she doesn’t have more opponents on her show. But MSNBC has been critical of Democrats, especially the president and conservative Dems. (I’ve rarely seen its hosts criticize the most liberal Dems, unless it was Rep. Kucinich for threatening to vote against the healthcare bill.)
If the GOP leadership were smart, they’d go on Fox and push back. If they were smart…