One can't exaggerate how large Fox looms in the liberal imagination. They see it as huge and mighty and credit it with almost mythical powers. It is a propaganda channel whose mission it is to destroy the Democratic Party. That's part of why Clintons' performance had such salience. Finally he was standing up to an evil empire. It is odd that they are so spooked. In October America is set to become a nation of 300 million. What a big country. Fox News's average evening prime-time viewership is less than two million. Its average daytime is less than a million. And if my mail is an indication, they're already Republicans. Fox's power is that it is an alternative to the mainstream media. It did not take its shape by deeply inhaling liberalism and slowly breathing it out.
The left sees Fox as a symptom and promoter of anarchy. The old unity, the old essential unity one used to experience when one turned on the TV in 1950 or 1980, has been fractured, broken up. We are becoming balkanized. Fox, blogs, talk radio, the Internet, citizen reporters--it's all producing cacophony, and heralds a future of No Compromise. No one trusts the information they're given anymore, as they trusted Uncle Walter. This is bad for the country.
It is an odd thing about modern liberals that they're made anxious by the unsanctioned. A conservative is more likely to see what's happening as freedom. It isn't that honest and impartial news lost its place of respect, it's that establishment liberalism lost its journalistic monopoly. And it was a monopoly. Not everyone believed Uncle Walter. Uncle Walter, and Chet and David, were all there was. But while they reigned, Americans were buying "Conscience of a Conservative" by Barry Goldwater, and Reagan was quietly rising way out in California, and Spiro Agnew and Bill Safire were issuing mainstream hits like "effete snobs" and "nattering nabobs." In the time liberals think of as the last great unified era, Americans were rising up.
The new media did not divide us. The new media gave voice to our divisions. The result: more points of view, more subjects discussed, more data presented. This, in a great republic, a great democracy, a leader of the world in a dangerous time, is not bad but good.
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