In a land dominated by the left and its take on world events, Fox News may have been the lone bastion of conservatism and conservative reporting. It has traditionally been the place where right-of-center Americans go to seek truth devoid of the biased slant from socialists and anti-Trump activists. But now, it seems, Fox News has not been living up to its charter.
Unquestionably what we have in the United States is not a “free and unencumbered” press. Yes, the First Amendment does protect the press from governmental interference, but “free and unencumbered” requires much more than the absence of governmental interference. For the press to be truly “free and unencumbered,” it must also devoid of private sector pressures slanting its reporting in one direction or another.
CNN has become a trumpet for anti-Trumpists. MSNBC will not deliver a story without availing itself of the opportunity to slam conservatives and defend the validity of the liberal agenda. The New York Times‘ reporting pieces read more like opinions than news reports, and The Washington Post will rarely acknowledge the validity of conservative pundits and newsmakers.
To be clear, reporting is not opining. Journalism requires much more than news analysis. To truly engage in journalism, an outlet must have a fleet of reporters ready to engage newsmakers. They need to stand at the ready to go on location and sleuth out the stories of importance to their readership. It is an endeavor requiring money and assets, and one that cannot be achieved by bloggers, pundits, and opiners.
Virtually every journalistic organization in the United States in a position to engage in this level of intense journalistic scrutiny is left of center. Until recently, the only notable exception has been Fox News.
Since Roger Ailes’ departure and passing, Fox News’ conservative slant has waned. In recent years, Shepard Smith has been open about his less than conservative slant. Neil Cavuto has been hostile to President Trump and his agenda, and the evolution of Judge Napolitano’s legal views from staunch conservative arbiter and strict constitutionalist to slanted advocate has been noticeable.
But an increasingly leftist slant is not the greatest issue affecting Fox News. The bigger problem is its lack of sophistication in reporting. Almost by definition, a televised news report will be more superficial than its written companion. The time limitations imposed upon any televised news article imparts significant challenges to the delivery of in-depth analysis or reports. For that, a news journal program where a story is thoroughly developed is required. No such program exists on Fox.
What’s more, the Fox News lineup has pretty much devolved into a Fox and Friends variety show in the morning followed by a series of fight sessions loosely calling themselves “debates.” With the notable exception of Chris Wallace, who is not consistently conservative, but appears to try to deliver objective interviews from his subjects and the occasional and invaluable appearances of Britt Hume, there is no grounded, objective voice of Fox. The Five offers no substantive insight in its entertainment-based discussions, and the All-Star Panel on Special Report with Bret Baier is a shell of itself since the sad and premature loss of Charles Krauthammer and the disappearances of Mort Kondracke and Fred Barnes.
But despite the limitations in televised reporting, twenty-first-century journalism can make up for them by supplementing the inherent shortcomings of its televised programming with a strong online presence. Fox News fails here as well, and it’s not merely because of the unacceptably high incidence of grammatical errors. Over the past two years, the website has taken on an increasingly tabloid feel. For example, on Saturday morning, the two top stories were (appropriately) dealt with the government shutdown and Justice Ginsburg’s lung cancer. But these were immediately followed by a slew of stupid and worthless stories regarding the colors of the interior of the house in Home Alone, Arian Grande’s lampshading fashions, crazy campus breakdowns, an adopted pastor embracing and forgiving his biological father, and Sandra Bullock’s revelation of her crush on Keanu Reeves while filming Speed.
Undoubtedly, conservatives are definitely engaged in an existential fight for their country’s future. Inherent to that battle is the thoughtful delivery of views and developments supportive of conservative philosophies and viewpoints. Sadly, Fox News has abandoned that charge.
Either Fox News retakes its position as the leader in conservative news, or someone else will need to carry the baton.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Federalist Pages.