The network that saved honest journalism celebrates triumph over liberal media.
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• Be Prepared: Liberal journalists were prepared to tie as many news stories as possible to a liberal slant — and did so routinely. Those who opposed abortion were extremist zealots. Those who wanted a tough line against the Soviet Union were warmongers. Those who believed in tax cuts were greedy. And so on. There was not a political or cultural issue to be had in which the dominant liberal media was not thoroughly prepared to follow some variation of the liberal line.
• Make Others Comfortable: In the case of the liberal media, Ailes’ guideline on making “others comfortable” meant a specific set of others — those others being the ideological buddies of those in the liberal media. Other liberals on the Washington or New York cocktail circuit. It was critical, as Goldwater had noted years earlier — for liberal journalists to write or televise stories in such a way as to “maintain their membership in the group.” And that group, of course, was to liberal journalists the most important group of all: each other.
• Be Committed: One would never be able to fault liberal journalists for their commitment. Walter Cronkite marinated himself and his viewers in the Vietnam War before he took to the airwaves to pronounce that it was time for America to go. When a young, unknown John Kerry testified in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the sum and substance of American policy as conducted by Richard Nixon was war atrocities committed by Kerry’s fellow servicemen, there was no lack of commitment in the liberal media to seeing that every bit of Kerry’s views were covered extensively, quite knowingly launching Kerry’s liberal political career. The story could change — from Civil Rights to Vietnam to Watergate to Jimmy Carter to the economy and the energy crisis to Ronald Reagan and on and on. But the mainstream media commitment to delivering any and every story through the liberal looking glass never, ever wavered.
• Be Interesting: Once again, the liberal media intentionally if unintentionally followed this cue from Ailes to a tee. The Vietnam War was summed up by dramatic television shots of the Viet Cong invading Saigon in the Tet offensive. The Civil Rights era was summed up by dramatic pictures of black men and women on the receiving end of fire hoses and police dogs in Birmingham, Alabama. But examine whether the Tet offensive was actually a failure? That Police Commissioner Bull Connor — who had launched the hoses and dogs — was actually a member of the Democratic National Committee? And that the Democratic Party had an abysmal history of mixing its liberalism with racism dating all the way back to support for slavery? Which in turn accounted for all manner of Democratic election victories that produced the careers of Bull Connor and countless others? Nary a mention. The interesting pictures, selectively chosen, were all that counted.
Taken together, as Ailes had written, these Four Essentials would successfully deliver a message. A decidedly liberal message, in the case of the American media that had been actually following Ailes Four Essentials for years. And as those years flew by from that night at the San Francisco Cow Palace in 1964 to the launch of Fox News in 1996 — that liberal message irreversibly linking liberalism to the “mainstream” American media got through to the American television viewing audience.
That message? That the anchors, the reporters, the producers, the editors of mainstream television news, and their friends in radio and print— were liberals. And if you wanted to know what was in the news, you had to accept the liberal narrative of the day. Period. The End.
Roger Ailes got the message. Rupert Murdoch got the message. Millions of Americans got the message.
And in that collective, in 1996 another message was sent in reply.
Within a mere fifteen years of its startup, Fox News is the most profitable unit of Murdoch’s News Corporation. As Rolling Stone and its 65-year-old owner carefully and furiously admit, Fox News reaches almost 100 million households. And by producing daily newscasts that regularly feature both sides of a debate on a given issue, by deliberately setting out to have professional journalists be fair and balanced, by showcasing commentary shows run by conservatives and unleashed from the restrictions of the liberal world view, among other things, “Fox News reaped an estimated profit of $816 million last year” — almost a fifth of the profit of Murdoch’s entire News Corporation. And not co-incidentally, Fox News has “more viewers than all other cable-news networks combined.” Say again: more viewers than all other cable-news networks combined.
What conclusion can one draw from the fifteen-year success of Fox News?
That it is the leading news organization in America.
Why is this so?
The late Allen Drury would know the answer.
Fox News is Capable of Honor.