Fox News chief Roger Ailes ordered a "course correction" at the network last year, parting ways with Glenn Beck and telling the rest of Fox's conservative talent to tamp down the rhetorical heat and extol the Tea Party movement less avidly. Conservatives aren't loving the change, says Keach Hagey in Politico, and some are tuning out. Fox's apparent shift toward the center was widely discussed and lamented at last weekend's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). "I've gone from all Fox to no Fox, and replaced it with CNN, which I think right now is giving me a much fairer analysis of what's going on," right-wing Virginia talk radio gabber John Fredericks tells Politico. Is Fox News really veering leftward?
I guess "shift to the Left" is relative: What proof did Fredericks offer of this leftward lurch, asks Ed Kilgore in Washington Monthly. He's apparently upset — "seriously" — that Karl Rove (despite his supporting Romney) and Sean Hannity (allied to the Republican establishment) seem to be getting extra airtime. Other right-wing critics are griping over Beck's ouster. In other words, "any 'shift to the left' makes sense only as a relative term for any fixed object that is part of a Republican Party apparatus moving rapidly to the right."
"Fox's 'Shift to the Left'"
The shift is real, and politically savvy: The disgruntled conservatives are right about Fox's "subtle but real" move toward the center, says Paul Waldman in The American Prospect. But the "fevered conspiracy theories" they're employing to explain the shift are amusingly off base. Fox isn't caving to George Soros or going soft; it's moving "in the direction that Roger Ailes believes is the most advantageous for the GOP." In 2010, that was fueling the Tea Party. But to win a presidential race, you aim for the middle.
"Fox News, now part of the liberal media"
This is about business, and Fox isn't alone: Fox is, above all else, a very successful business, and good businesses adapt, says Evan McMurry in PoliticOlogy. Fox and its liberal counterpart, MSNBC, have both tapped "their respective extremes for all they're worth," and both are moving toward the center in an effort to grow their stagnating audience numbers. So Fox ditches Beck, and MSNBC loses Keith Olbermann, and "the effect overall can't help but be good" for each side — if, that is, the polarized audiences they helped create go along.
"Fox News changes anger Tea Party audience"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Syrian women know how to defeat ISIS
- Will Kobani be ISIS's Waterloo?
- The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion
- The U.S. Marines are developing laser weapons. Here's why.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- The case for voting (even if America is a corrupt plutocracy rigged by the rich)
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Why the Supreme Court is allowing Texas to hold an unconstitutional election
- Paul Krugman, Amazon, and the left's backwards view of book-industry titans
Subscribe to the Week