I guess a lot of you have seen the video of Karl Rove disputing Fox News’s call of Ohio for Obama. It is interesting how hard the anchors, decision desk, and Michael Barone went at Rove. I also think it shows something of the divided nature of Fox News. A while back I wrote about the difference between two kinds of news outlets:
Culturally Biased News – The people who produce CBN are mostly trying to be fair most of the time. They aren’t trying to help either Team Red or Team Blue. They understand that “both sides” have to be presented within an intellectually honest context. They want their audience to be everybody who is willing to sit through a current events program. The problem is that these news programs are produced by people who are in sympathy with the same team.
Group Therapy – This programming has a “side” that is either Team Red or Team Blue. The commentary is overwhelmingly about why the home team is right and why the other side is wrong, and rarely tries to rebut strongest arguments of the other side. Those with opposing viewpoints are brought on to serve as piñatas. The purpose of these shows isn’t to change minds in the sense of trying to win over members of the other team or the uncommitted. The purpose of these shows is to make the audience feel good for having chosen the smarter and more moral team.
The difference between these kinds of news media is more obvious on the center-left. NBC is liberal-leaning, but they usually try to be fair. MSNBC is a lunatic asylum. The center-right doesn’t have a similar diversity of television outlets. Fox dominates the conservative television market in the production of both right-leaning hard news and ideological group therapy. The Bret Baier show at 6:00 PM is right-leaning news and it is terrific. Hannity is something else. There is some personnel overlap between the two sides, but there are also lines. Bret Baier doesn’t put on a Dick Morris to peddle his books. Bret Baier and Chris Wallace might cover something said by Donald Trump, but they won’t give Trump softball interviews to spread his birtherism. So why did Fox News go harder at Rove than they ever did at a malicious and cynical clown like Trump? They could have just let Rove’s comments slide and let him be proven wrong by the vote count. That’s probably what Hannity would have done. Instead the anchors kept going back at him until he was a bloody pulp. My sense is that Rove took on the hard news side of Fox on their own turf, and they reminded of the rules of real news.