I’ve long thought of conservative-leaning news outlets as being only small counterbalances to the dominant liberal slant that exists in the mainstream media.
Fox News is a perfect example. Though the network fares well against its national news competitors on an individual basis, it is merely a lone conservative voice in an industry that is overwhelmingly liberal. In a country of roughly 300 million people, the highest rated shows on Fox News average around 3 million viewers a night. That number may make for a strong cable rating, but it also demonstrates that the network has relatively little influence on public opinion – directly anyway.
For that reason, I always find it kind of humorous when the Obama administration and other liberals try to blame public opposition to their policies and ideology on the clout of people like Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and now Megyn Kelly. As a conservative, I wish that certain Fox News personalities, such as Charles Krauthammer, drove public opinion, but that simply isn’t the case.
There’s no better evidence of this deficit in public influence than the altered behavior we’ve seen within the mainstream media ever since the re-election of their guy, President Obama.
As someone who watches Fox News with some frequency, it is absolutely stunning to witness the rest of the media suddenly reporting on stories, as if they were breaking news items, that Fox had been reporting on for several months, and in some cases, even years.
When ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, earlier this year, began heavily scrutinizing the Obama administration for their handling of the Benghazi attack, he was largely seen by his peers and much of the public as the leading force on the story. The reality, however, is that many journalists at Fox News – perhaps most notably Stephen Hayes from the Weekly Standard – were uncovering and reporting many of the same facts as far back as the 2012 campaign.
When the mainstream media began reporting on the IRS’s targeted harassment of conservative groups, the story absolutely shocked a lot of people. Not among those were Fox News viewers like myself, who watched a number of representatives from these very groups tell their stories of harassment on several of the network’s shows back in 2012.
There are plenty of examples of this, but the biggest, of course, is how the mainstream media chose to report on the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) until just the past couple of months. It is nothing short of breathtaking to watch all of these supposed journalists, who essentially campaigned for the law, suddenly come to the realization that it is a completely illogical system, propped up and marketed to the public on a plethora of lies and painfully naive assumptions.
I listen to liberal media personalities like Dylan Ratigan (a longtime supporter of Obamacare) admit that their own health plans either got dumped or became far more expensive because of Obamacare, and my mind is boggled that this actually took them by surprise. Even Kirsten Powers, a level-headed liberal who actually works at Fox News, was rudely awakened with this revelation.
How was this a surprise to anyone?
Fox News and the rest of the conservative media had been reporting on these inevitable outcomes for years – outcomes projected by an abundance of legitimate sources based on irrefutable facts, and in some cases, mathematical certainties. Yet, it’s as if reporters and analysts outside of the conservative media just recently realized that two plus two doesn’t equal three, and they’re pretending as if they were somehow duped into believing that it did.
The explanation is far more than just liberal bias. There’s a heck of a lot of stupidity involved as well. And unfortunately, it’s the American public that is being harmed because of that stupidity.
I have to wonder if, to the casual media observer, Fox News is starting to come across like some kind of prophet, blessed with the uncanny ability of being able to identify news stories well before everyone else does. That’s certainly how the rest of the media are inadvertently portraying the network.
The politically-savvy among us, however, understand that the conservative media are by no means made up of fortunetellers. They much more resemble whistle-blowers, who are exposing truths that their peers just aren’t comfortable with, and often hold them in contempt for revealing.
And that is precisely why Fox News and conservative New Media outlets do play an important role in our society, even with relatively little direct influence on the public. They cover legitimate news stories that the mainstream media don’t want to. They give an open platform to conservative voices that the rest of the media would rather marginalize. They scrutinize the actions of our leaders on the left when the others’ instincts are to trust them with the power they’ve been given. Sure, the conservative media are not infallible. They’ve been known to turn mountains into molehills just like the rest of the media, but they work to provide that desperately needed counterbalance.
Sometimes – just sometimes – the conservative media relentlessly drive home stories so effectively that the mainstream media can no longer ignore them. We’ve seen this with Monica Lewinsky, Rathergate, ACCORN, and more. They mainstream media have to follow suit in order to preserve what little credibility they have left. And when there’s a media consensus, only then is public perception is changed.
Other times, like in the examples I listed above, the warnings of the conservative media go virtually ignored by most people precisely because they’re a lone voice. It’s incredibly frustrating, when this happens, to see hugely consequential facts blown off like the rhetoric of a palm-reader massaging a crystal ball at a carnival, merely because the rest of the media won’t do their jobs.
Unfortunately, that’s the environment we live in. We’re reliant on a media consensus to take hold before the majority of us pay any attention to a story. And because a majority of the media is content (often deliberate) in holding off on reporting legitimate stories until their time-relevance has already expired, our country suffers greatly.
Such neglect hurts democracy, and we’re very much paying the price for that neglect right now.