Fox And Unfriends


Bruce Bartlett recently noted that as soon as he offered a searing conservative critique of Bush's economics, he found himself largely barred from appearing on Fox News. There was one exception, an interview with Paul Gigot – but that interview was part of a combined WSJ and Fox show, and Bruce was invited by Gigot. Since then, after being a regular presence on the GOP TV network, Bruce has never appeared. He suspects there is some kind of list of people who are barred from appearing on Fox in prime time, and his publicist confirms that she has been unable to get Bruce on any Fox show since he put commitment to principle and intellectual honesty over partisanship. Last night, Greta Van Susteren, publicist for the Palin family, dismissed the idea:

I just read on some boo-hoo from Bruce Bartlett. He thinks he was banned from appearing on Fox News for a book he wrote and complains about it in American Conservative. Banned? Huh? I have been at Fox News Channel almost 11 years and I have never heard that Bruce Bartlett was or is banned. I think he flatters himself…

I never heard about it. As far as I can recall, I never even heard about his book. And most importantly, I never got an “order from on high” as he claims his publicist was told.

If Van Susteren had never even heard of the book, then the strategy of simply ignoring dissent worked – and helped secure the GOP's current nadir. What happened in the Bush-Cheney years was a ruthless attempt to nullify as far as possible the reach of the dissidents. We live with the consequences.

For my part, I would have loved to have a chance to debate my critique of modern Republicanism – "The Conservative Soul" – on Fox News. You'd think a discussion of that kind would have enlivened a show segment. But the book was ignored by almost every conservative media outlet. My cover story on Obama's long game last January spawned several segments in prime time on Fox, but despite persistent requests from Newsbeast's publicist, Fox chose other people to defend the essay I wrote. When they put a screen shot of the magazine cover on TV they actually blurred out my name, in true Stalinist fashion in which an individual is simply airbrushed out of existence. Megyn Kelly, moreover, asserted that I was not an "actual journalist" and I was given no right of reply, despite insistent requests. If you don't remember this, here's the Kelly clip. And the January essay which predicted that Obama's long game would outlast his critics turns out not to have been such a bad bet after all. And in the marketplace of ideas, it blazed a trail – almost 60,000 Facebook likes, for example. Why not have the author on to defend his own work? Why not have at me and let me fight back? Because they were never interested in a real debate, just phony ones.

I'm lucky enough to have created and built the Dish as an outlet – and as a refuge for conservatives repelled by the current GOP. So I don't care. I don't need cable news to get my ideas out there. But the chilling effect on desperately needed discourse on where conservatism went so badly wrong is not a solution to a problem. It is the source of the problem.

Roger Ailes has helped kill conservatism in America, by never allowing it to criticize itself. When journalism puts power above truth it isn't, to coin a phrase, "actual journalism". It's propaganda. And I, like others in the Stalinist atmosphere, was just rendered invisible in the one-party state that is the GOP's media-industrial complex.