For many conservatives, Bill Maher is a frustrating, political ambiguity – a man who may have unfairly propositioned Christians in his dreadful and dull documentary, Religulous, but who has also ostracized the Islamic community for its failure to handle its radical elements. Recently, however, this mysteriousness was considerably lessened when Maher remarked on his show, Real Time: “I feel like the reason people are so polarized is Fox News. I think of all the things that changed in America, Fox News changed the most.” Although these comments have since drawn all sorts of criticism from both reasonable liberals and outraged conservatives, the demonization of Fox is not peculiar to Maher – for when it comes down to it, all sorts of media hacks brutally resent any interruption of their slobbering love affair with their ultimate hero, President Obama.
But before actually considering its validity, allow Maher’s statement to resonate in your mind for a few moments. If you were ever wondering whether or not it were possible for leftists to further ascribe social problems to Fox News, then there you go: Fox News – that rebellious teenager who refuses to binge-drink cheap beer amongst his rowdy friends; that wise adult whose opinions are considered mean by whiny activists – is now, according to Maher, responsible for public polarization.
The question is, for what else can Maher blame FNC? If climate change was responsible for events in Ferguson, then perhaps it isn’t so contrived under the liberal mindset to attribute, say, gang violence in Chicago or the rise of ISIS in the Middle East to Fox News’ propaganda. Those, obviously, are claims from which even Maher would shy away, but the point remains: if FNC can be so maligned for simply presenting a larger variety of viewpoints, then it can also be frivolously connected to all sorts of problems the world faces.
Maher’s claim may seem obviously outlandish to one not so familiar with media dynamics, but the truth is that Fox News’ hosts, correspondents, and viewers have become accustomed to this sort of vindictiveness. To President Obama and others, who can’t conceive of anyone disagreeing with liberal policies without having first been brainwashed by Bill O’Reilly, Fox News represents an immediate threat to their intellectual monopoly. After all, how would conservatives survive if there were no channel to feverishly locate when MSNBC, CNN, CBS, ABC, and CNBC are all on at the gym? Where would we go – when the smarmy smirks of Rachel Maddow and Piers Morgan chase us around every corner – if there were no counter to their fatuous claims? The truth is that outside of Fox News, scanty opposition exists toward the unfettered expression of liberal ideas: Fox News is the outpost, the well that fills with water for the conservative student who’s stuck on a nasty college campus. And should it lean conservative, so what? For every Sean Hannity, there’s a Chris Matthews, a Jon Stewart, and a dangerously angry Al Sharpton – I think it’s time for a bit of variety.
This all may seem like somewhat of a stretch, but there are a plethora of instances in which liberals in media have effectively drowned out conservative voices. In 2012, when Mitt Romney was gaining significant momentum after his first debate with the President, for example, Candy Crowley, a respected anchor for CNN, actually interrupted him during the second debate as he was trying to make a point about President Obama’s reaction to the Benghazi crisis. She, the “impartial” moderator, countered Romney’s claim about the Administration’s difficulty in describing the dreadful act of violence as one of terror, and proceeded to “correct” the record in President Obama’s favor. Disgustingly, the President sat back and verbally thanked Ms. Crowley for her political gift – an instance which significantly hindered and embarrassed the Romney camp.
And then, of course, one cannot ignore the liberal media’s treatment of the various scandals that have plagued the Obama Administration – the targeting of conservative groups by a polarized IRS saturated with power; certain bureaucrats’ horrid and lazy handling of the VA’s backlogging of injured veterans; and the State Department’s tethered reaction to the Benghazi terror attacks, administration officials covering incompetence by blaming an anti-Islamic video for the whole ordeal.
It used to be that the media existed to extract provocative information and to force uncomfortable government leaders into answering to the wider public. Indeed, these scandals would constitute a goldmine for any media correspondent wishing to be useful at his or her job – but not, apparently, for CNN’s correspondents, who still would rather discuss the mysterious disappearance of that Malaysian Airlines jet than Lois Lerner’s abuse of power. The question remains, is Fox News really so polarizing, to use Bill Maher’s own words, because it refuses to cede its journalistic integrity to pliant media brethren? Shockingly, there are many who would, despite obvious disparities, respond in the affirmative.
So, to put it lightly, the demonization of conservatism by a largely biased media is real, not exaggerated. As Greg Gutfeld, a Fox News anchor, writes in his book The Joy of Hate:
“I work at the Death Star, the fair and balanced joint that’s beating the crap out of its competitors. For a liberal, my network symbolizes everything they hate …. It’s a handy reference point whenever they get angry but can’t think of anything to say …. They realize condemning the network will get them out of any jam, without ever having to say anything that might require actual intelligence” (77-78).
It is no surprise, then, that Fox News – an organization that fails to carry the same presuppositions as CNN or MSNBC – is met with such vitriol, for don’t bullies always target the child they cannot, in their wildest dreams, understand? To them, Fox News is a devilish place shrouded in self-imposed misery – a misery brought about by its shameful desire to widen the sorts of opinions presented to viewers. Fundamentally, the rest of the media would prefer it if their liberal expostulations were left unchallenged and if Bill Maher and his cohorts had unmitigated access to vulnerable, young minds. After all, destructive ideologies are most capable of survival when left monopolized; the demonization of FNC is simply a continuation of that hatred for competition.
In essence, Fox News is the counterpoint to an ugly end, the stymie to a new and preposterous order in media centered on progressivism. And fortunately, as Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly and “The Five” systematically eviscerate their competition (all the other networks, combined) in the ratings, the American public can be sure of a more balanced approach overall to the reception of news programming.