WTMA commentary broadcast 1/8/08:

When conservatives used to complain about the “liberal media” I was always right there with them, and there was never a doubt in my mind that both the network news and cable outlets like CNN had a leftward tilt, where Democrats were always made to look more favorable than Republicans, and liberal ideas were made to look more respectable than conservative ideas.

This attitude was more widespread than many in the media expected, and the rise of the FOX News channel as a conservative alternative was considered proof by many that Americans were tired of being force-fed liberalism with their news. But these days, FOX News isn’t much better than the liberal media they once sought to challenge, or as longtime conservative activist Richard Viguerie explains:

“I am dismayed that the Fox News Channel apparently plans to bar Ron Paul from its January 6 presidential debate. I have not yet declared my support for any candidate, but I find this action inexcusable. Roger Ailes, the president of Fox News, is a brilliant political operative and businessman. In his 2003 interview with Broadcasting & Cable magazine, he said, in regard to liberal bias in the mainstream news media: Bias has to do with the elimination of points of view, not presenting a point of view. Well said, Roger. However, that’s exactly what you are doing now.”

And Viguerie is exactly right. My first brush with how fearful the neoconservative establishment is of true conservatives came in 1996, when Pat Buchanan won the NH Republican primary. Buchanan’s main issues were ending foreign intervention and foreign aid overseas, stopping illegal immigration, national sovereignty and saving the middle class from corporate greed and big government. As the entire Republican establishment lined up behind eventual nominee Bob Dole, they attacked Buchanan with everything they had. Rush Limbaugh said Buchanan wasn’t even a conservative. The other candidates attacked Buchanan’s support for the Confederate flag. And author Bill Bennett even said Buchanan “flirted with fascism.”

Now here we are in 2008, where the issues Buchanan brought up a decade ago are once again front and center, at least for one candidate. Yet, like the liberal media, FOX News believes they alone should control and define “respectable” opinion. Continues Viguerie:

“Ron Paul is a traditional limited-government conservative in the grand tradition of Robert A. Taft, Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan. He has astounded the political world by raising almost $20 million in campaign funds during the last quarter of 2007. In the latest Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll, he is ahead of Fred Thompson in New Hampshire. Yet Fox News is inviting Thompson and barring Ron Paul. While Fox has ended the Democratic monopoly in TV news, it is becoming disturbingly clear that it is perpetuating the pro-Big Government monopoly in TV news. A Republican presidential debate without Ron Paul is a ‘debate’ between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. All the other Republican candidates would continue the Big Government policies of President George W. Bush, and the differences between them are mostly minor and cosmetic. Fox News itself apparently wants to limit the GOP discussion to variations on a Neocon theme of perpetual war for perpetual big government.”

Amen Mr. Viguerie. Conservatism should be defined through free and open debate amongst thoughtful folks with fresh ideas and a stake in the matter. FOX News apparently believes it should defined solely by themselves and the political, government and corporate interests they represent. Such journalistic elitism shouldn’t be acceptable to intelligent people simply because it comes from the Republican side of the aisle. And if the liberal media was indeed the enemy of free speech, the neoconservative media doesn’t promise much of an improvement.

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