Thursday, October 23, 2008

Could Fox News become watchable again?

I was jogging on a treadmill at a hotel in San Diego the other day (I was talked into accompanying my wife to a conference so I could babysit the kid, who she really wanted along) when another apparent conventioneer wandered in for his morning workout. He glanced at MSNBC, playing on the tube, and asked if I minded if he changed the channel. Not thinking, I said, "go ahead."

Of course, he changed it to Fox News.

Oh crap, I thought. I'm in for it now.

But then, a funny thing happened. I found Fox News watchable.

That hasn't happened in a long time. It's not because Fox News is overtly conservative. Much of the media veers to the left, after all, and MSNBC has deliberately positioned itself as an explicitly liberal news channel. I can deal with -- even enjoy -- opinionated news. But Fox News has been the house organ of the Bush administration, and watching it duck and dodge to cover for the White House's abuses and failings has been a bit too much like watching a driver deliberately steer into a ten-car pile-up.


So I've generally avoided Fox News and stuck with other outlets because the opposition press, whatever its biases, is always more interesting than the state's pet.

But Fox News is suddenly watchable. It's actually interesting. Why? Because with a political campaign underway, Fox finds itself in opposition again -- if only to one of the leading presidential candidates. And the candidate Fox opposes is favored to win.

Oh sure, Fox talking heads fawn over McCain and Palin, but that will pass unless extraterrestrials invade and install the senator from Arizona as president-for-life (or undeath, if his appearance before the cameras is any indicator). And then Fox News will be back to where it was the last time it was interesting -- when Bill Clinton was in the White House.

And MSNBC and company will almost certainly take their turns as unwatchable media outlets because their slavish treatment of candidate Barack Obama is likely a taste of their roles-to-come as house organs of the Obama presidency.

In the months ahead, it'll be interesting to watch the slick apparatchiks of Fox (I don't even know their names anymore) rediscover their inner insurgents -- and to see Keith Olbermann discover just how un-fun it is to be a sock puppet.

Fox News watchable. Who'd've thunk?

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Blogger Kevin B. O'Reilly said...

Great point. I remember when Fox News was watchable. I was even able to stomach it until shortly after 9/11. Is there hope for such organs as National Review as well?

October 23, 2008 5:00 PM  
Blogger J.D. Tuccille said...

I've found National Review to be somewhat more tolerable than Fox during the Bush administration, although the recent purge of Christopher Buckley isn't encouraging. I'd think that an opposition role will work wonders there too.

October 24, 2008 10:09 AM  

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