Fair & Balanced

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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23 Responses

  1. Rufus F. says:

    I don’t know if it would have worse ratings though. Full disclosure: I have no opinion whatsoever about FOX News for what I think is a good reason- we don’t have cable and Ontario doesn’t seem to get FOX News anyway. I have, however, watched Glenn Beck quite a bit via the intertubes and find him totally fascinating. Maybe I’m totally off-base here, but it seems to me that part of his appeal comes from the idea that he is a sort of wonkish professorial type offering hard information about the dangers of progressivism, the importance of liberty, and American history more generally, while being a bit on-the-edge of his emotions. It’s a bit like Dr. House. I’ve seen interviews with his fans in which they say as much- they think of him as a college instructor. The criticism is often made that Beck is a phony, but does that suggest the real thing wouldn’t sell? I suspect his viewers would absolutely love a program with a highly educated Bill Buckley type explaining conservative ideas in depth and at a high level. [If any FOX execs are reading this, I expect royalties if this idea is ever carried out.]Report

    • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Rufus F. says:

      @Rufus F.,

      But how can one be intellectually honest while still trying to tell people that evolution and global warming aren’t real, that David Barton is right about our history, etc.

      If you ignore those topics you don’t get the audience, if you cover them honestly you piss off the viewers and make them think you are a liberal elitist.Report

    • E.C. Gach in reply to Rufus F. says:

      @Rufus F., “The criticism is often made that Beck is a phony, but does that suggest the real thing wouldn’t sell? I suspect his viewers would absolutely love a program with a highly educated Bill Buckley type explaining conservative ideas in depth and at a high level.”

      I think part of the reason Beck does so well is that he offers up the best of both worlds to his audience: (1) the feeling of having done one’s homework and worked out the truth, with (2) the ease of not having to open up a book (unless written by Beck) and the fortune of this hard-earned truth validating what his audience already thought.

      Because a Buckley-esc discussion would require work on the part of the audience (at least for all parts of the argument that couldn’t be drawn on a blackboard), as well possibly going against some of their already held views sometimes, I’m not sure their is an audience for it. At least not a large enough audience.

      I haven’t watched MSNBC much, but in keeping with my above theory, I’d say they don’t do as well as Fox in part because, rather than offer pseudo-intellectual arguments for their point of view, they don’t really offer any arguments for their point of view, beyond the daily shake of the head and roll of the eyes.Report

    • Robert Cheeks in reply to Rufus F. says:

      @Rufus F., You are correct. There’s a part of Beck that emits a concern for the unwashed and betrayed. I love the academics that beat him up…he defeats them at every turn and they don’t know why.Report

    • Simon K in reply to Rufus F. says:

      @Rufus F., Seconded. I also happen to think that Beck is sincere, and since he’s sincere his position will move slowly and inexorably towards a more rational, less conspiratorial conservatism. Unlike, say, Limbaugh, who really genuinely is a charlatan (but quite entertaining).Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    Should Fox take a note from NPR and fire more people for content-based reasons?Report

    • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Jaybird says:


      Maybe, maybe not. But one thing is sure CNN should fire everyone involved in the twitter monitoring/lindsey lohan spectacle/news ignoring situation.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

        @ThatPirateGuy, twitter monitoring?

        This is what I get from not watching a news station above reproach.

        I have no idea what you’re talking about.Report

        • gregiank in reply to Jaybird says:

          @Jaybird, FWIW CNN is gruesome. I was in Italy a couple years ago and hadn’t turned on the news in a few days. I flicked on CNN international and what was coming on. A special about greatest american serial killers. oy.Report

        • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Jaybird says:

          I stopped watching them years ago in part because they spend hours each day looking at what people are saying on twitter.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

          @Greg and Guy, this is actually one of the things that I thought was pretty good about Fox (though I got rid of cable a few months back and haven’t missed it, or watched cable news, since):

          When it comes to straight news coverage (i.e., not people yelling opinion into the camera), they weren’t bad and they actually did a better job of covering not-Paris Hilton and not-Michael Jackson better than both MSNBC and CNN.

          Has that changed?Report

    • Jinchi in reply to Jaybird says:


      Maybe you should stop pretending that FOX doesn’t fire reporters for speaking out of line. Talk to Jane Akre, Steve Wilson, Roger Friedman or E D Hill and don’t forget that Sean Hannity used to have a sidekick who was demoted a long time ago.Report

  3. North says:

    Well that’s Mike for you, rarely an enemy to the right and only ever on policy; never on tone or bias. I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s a conservative first and a libertarian second. I do remember a while back when Jason wrote his article on Libertarians and how much they’ve internalized the biases and language of the statist right. Mike’s always struck me as a fine example. Highly libertarian, but so very filtered through the conservative lens. No wonder he took such umbrage at that item.

    But then I’m a shamelessly biased neoliberal so I could just be projecting.Report

    • Simon K in reply to North says:

      @North, The thing about tone and bias is that its basically cultural. I mean, I’m significantly more libertarian than most of my friends and family here, who are dyed-blue-in-the-wool California Democrats to a man (the man being a Glenn Beck fan). I don’t agree with them about very much in terms of actual policy, but I reflexively defend the tone and priors (see they’re priors when you like them and biases when you don’t) of centrist Democrat politics against conservatives. If you’re going to attack the specifics of the healthcare reform bill then you and I will probably find a lot to agree about. If you’re going to argue that it was passed merely to increase the scope of government power rather than for its stated purpose then you’re calling most of my friends and family either stupid dupes or Machiavellian conspirators and I’m likely to argue with you, since I’m pretty sure they’re neither of those things. I’m pretty sure that’s also where Mike is coming from, except from the other side.Report

  4. Nob Akimoto says:

    Am I the only one who finds it hilarious that John Derbyshire of all people is complaining about low brow “happy meal” conservatism?Report

  5. Joey Maloney says:

    “Happy Meal Conservatism” – I like it.

    An unhealthy diet with lots of filler and very little actual nutrition, plus a shiny object that will give you brain damage if ingested.Report