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Posted by on May 17, 2015 in 2012 Elections, 2014 Elections, 2016 Elections, Featured, Journalism, Media, Politics | 17 comments

Bruce Bartlett on Fox News

Former Reagan and Bush (Sr.) economist Bruce Bartlett has published a thorough history and analysis of Fox News and its effect on American politics. It does not contain a lot of new information to those who follow politics closely but is worth a read.  Here are the high points:

  • A history of the small but distinct liberal bias in mainstream media before the rise of right-wing media
  • The rise of conservative talk radio in the late 1980’s with the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine and the emergence of Rush Limbaugh
  • Roger Ailes starts Fox News in 1996 with the backing of Australian newspaper magnate Rupert Murdoch
  • Fox quickly becomes the dominant news outlet for conservatives
  • Fox moves further right during the Bush years (particularly after 9/11)
  • Fox becomes increasingly factually inaccurate as documented by numerous non-partisan media studies
  • Fox viewers become increasingly likely to endorse factually inaccurate beliefs about political issues
  • Fox perceived by media watchers as an unapologetic propaganda outlet for the GOP
  • Some on the right suggest that Fox News controls the GOP rather than the reverse. Right-wing critics of Fox question whether the network is a net plus or minus for the party

As Columbia University political scientist Lincoln Mitchell put it after Romney’s loss:


“Fox has now become a problem for the Republican Party because it keeps a far right base mobilized and angry, making it hard for the party to move to the center or increase its appeal, as it must do to remain electorally competitive….One of the reasons Mitt Romney was so unable to pivot back to the center was due to the drumbeat at Fox, which contributed to forcing him to the right during the primary season. Even after the primary season, when Fox became a big supporter for Romney, the rift between official editorial position and the political feelings of Fox viewers and hosts was clear.63


Former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum perhaps put the complicated, double-edged relationship between Fox and the GOP best when he said, “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.”64

Cross-posted from The Sensible Center

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