In Politico Magazine on Thursday I wrote that the Republican National Committee strategy to seize control of the debates and use more conservative moderators may backfire, as Republican candidates have been regularly committing gaffes in the comfy confines of the Fox News studios, like Jeb Bush’s botched Iraq answer and Scott Walker’s bizarre redefining of what “flip-flop” means.
In doing so, I faithfully reported that Fox News does actually ask Republicans some tough questions from time to time. However, the bigger problem for the candidates is not getting hit by the hardballs, but whiffing the softballs. Republicans seem to let their guard down on Fox – assuming that the anchors and the audience will be forgiving and giving ill-thought out answers to obvious questions.
I’m not shocked at all that Fox News sometimes practices journalism. It does have 24 hours to fill each day.
And it is particularly unshocking that it would be more journalistic when it comes to a Republican primary that is deeply unsettled. Fox serves its conservative viewers by putting Republican candidates through their paces … and by spreading misinformation about Democrats.
Also at Politico Magazine, Jack Shafer recently wrote “What Liberals Still Don’t Understand About Fox News”, namely that its audience is small and not influential. But conservatives don’t seem to understand why Fox is also dangerous territory for them: that it creates a cultural bubble, separate from the mainstream of America, which candidates are finding hard to navigate.
Republicans trapped themselves by buying into the foolish claim that their 2012 presidential prospects were hobbled by the media’s performance in the debates. They chose to blame the questions, instead of the answers.
Based on how Republican candidates have been performing on Fox so far this year, the answers haven’t gotten any better.