I know some of you will agree with what Frank Rich is saying here about Fox News, but sorry, it's way too early to declare victory this way:
In truth, Fox News has been defeated on the media battlefield -- and on the political battlefield as well.... The only people who seem not to know or accept Fox's decline, besides its own audience, are liberals, including Barack Obama, whose White House mounted a short-lived, pointless freeze-out of Fox News in 2009, and who convinced himself that the network has shaved five points off his approval rating.Yeah, Frank, I'm sure the fact that Democrats keep winning (or, in 2000, "winning") presidential elections is great comfort to women under Republican state governments who have to drive a hundred miles to get a legal abortion (and face multiple restrictions beyond that), or poor people in the same states who can't take advantage of the Medicaid expansion in the Affordable Care Act, or blacks who've voted for decades and now can't because they don't drive and can't obtain a birth certificate, all because Fox and other right-wing media outlets keep motivating right-wingers to vote for state and local Republican candidates who spout Fox talking points, even in states Democrats win handily at the presidential level.
Ailes would like the president and everyone else to keep believing he has that clout. But these days Fox News is the loudest voice in the room only in the sense that a bawling baby is the loudest voice in the room. In being so easily bullied by Fox's childish provocations, the left gives the network the attention on which it thrives and hands it power that it otherwise has lost....
The most interesting news about Fox News is that for some years now it has been damaging the right far more than the left. As a pair of political analysts wrote at Reuters last year, "When the mainstream media reigned supreme, between 1952 and 1988, Republicans won seven out of the ten presidential elections," but since 1992, when "conservative media began to flourish" (first with Rush Limbaugh's ascendancy, then with Fox), Democrats have won the popular vote five out of six times. You'd think they'd be well advised to leave Fox News to its own devices so that it can continue to shoot its own party in the foot.
I'm sure affected citizens think these are just trivial issues compared to one big Democratic victory every four years -- a victory that inevitably gives us a president who faces a brick wall of Republican intransigence, and who is viciously attacked by the party on minor matters, all because Heartland America keeps voting in Congresses that hew to the Fox line. Yes, why should the poor care whether there's ever an increase in the national minimum wage, or the jobless care that unemployment benefits aren't extended, or the rest of us care that our bridges are falling down and the people who fix them are still unemployed, all thanks to a Congress full of wingnuts sent to office by Fox-fueled rageoholics? Our guy won in 2012! He won four years earlier, too! That's all that matters! Fox is dead!
Ahhh, but we're superior to the right because they got 2012 wrong, Rich says:
When the reality-based data of actual votes came in on Election Night, it only followed that Fox Nation would be shocked, as most dramatically revealed by Karl Rove's famous on-camera meltdown. Anyone who had spent the entire year in the Fox News cocoon -- repeatedly hearing happy-news polls from Rasmussen and the even more egregious Dick Morris, repeatedly being assured that Benghazi was the silver bullet certain to take out Obama -- knew the election was in the bag....Did Fox encourage the right to misread the national mood in 2012? Yeah, sure. But what about our side? Haven't we done some misreading of our own? Didn't we think after the 2008 election that Reaganite conservatism was deader than the Monty Python parrot, and that we might be at the dawn of a decades-long era dominated by Democratic liberalism, with Obama as our FDR? Didn't a lot of us agree with the president that his reelection in 2012 might lead to the breaking of the tea party "fever"? Didn't we think the 2012 election would at least compel Republicans to sign on to immigration reform? And then didn't we think America was at a tipping point on gun control after Sandy Hook?
Rather than waste time bemoaning Fox's bogus journalism, liberals should encourage it. The more that Fox News viewers are duped into believing that the misinformation they are fed by Ailes is fair and balanced, the more easily they can be ambushed by reality as they were on Election Night 2012.
Yes, I suppose we have Fox where we want it: It's driving its presidential contenders to unelectable extremism, while struggling with a viewer base that's elderly (though not all that much older than MSNBC's -- average age 68 vs. 60) and small. But the old bastards who watch Fox vote -- and unlike us, they vote in House and Senate races, in races for governor and state legislators, in special elections to recall gun-control supporters.
So, yeah, we've cornered Fox. But cornered rats are very, very dangerous.