Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Great Descent

What an insightful comment by E.D. Kain (h/t Sullivan):
A larger point is that Fox News is simply not conservative. The fact of the matter is, I find NPR and even News Hour more conservative than Fox - but in a different sense, I suppose, than the standard boiler plate conservatism that has so infested American politics. What I mean to say is that the conservatism of Fox News tends to be wrapped up in loud, divisive, trashy television that is cheap and ugly and reactionary and essentially all things distasteful that conservatives should look at with scorn and antipathy. The measured, reserved, thoughtful and culturally sensible tone of NPR is far more conservative. I’d rather my kids listen to it than watch Glenn Beck. I’d rather they listen to Fresh Air than Rush Limbaugh. Why have conservatives let go of the high culture war? Why have they conceded defeat there - in the arts, in literature, in music - trading it instead for trash television and cheap rhetoric?
I tend to paint all conservatives with the colors of Fox News these days but that's probably unfair of me -- I forget that they're not all regurgitating Fox's daily absurdities. When I read comments like that of Kain, I remember why I used to be non-partisan.

When Fox first came out I thought it was merely a conservative news source. Then it seemed like they became drunk on the level of access they had to Republicans in power and started carrying water for them. Then there was the abundance of weirdly shiny-lipped blond women in short skirts. Over the past year or so, however, and definitely since November, they've gone completely off the rails. Clearly this is a ratings strategy, this latest drive to reach out to every disenfranchised white person they can rope in with crazy talk of fascism, revolts, armed revolutions, tyranny, etc. They sure do seem larger than life with Glenn Beck crying over the "death" of his country on TV but what they've become is the Jerry Springer of cable news.

At its inception, Jerry Springer was just another talk show competing with Oprah, Sally Jesse Rafael, Maury Povich, etc. It covered serious topics and hosted mainstream guests. Wanting to break from the pack, the Springer show decided to get a little more tarty with sensational topics like adultery and homosexuality. Eventually they went all-out trashy and now it isn't a show until someone takes their top off and blames their mother for stealing their lesbian lover.


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