Additional thoughts on the Kaus case and on Fox News

I’d like to add a few observations to Scott’s important post about Mickey Kaus’ departure from the Daily Caller. Kaus wrote a column criticizing Fox News for not leading the charge against Obama’s executive amnesty. Tucker Carlson, a Fox News contributor and host, pulled the column. Kaus resigned.

I raised basically the same concern as Kaus tried to about Fox News during the debate on the Schumer-Rubio amnesty legislation in 2013. In those days, Sen. Rubio appeared constantly on Fox News programs, especially Sean Hannity’s prime time show (this was pre-Megyn Kelly), to tout his amnesty bill. For a time, opponents of amnesty were nowhere to be seen on Fox; nor did Rubio face stiff questioning.

I wrote about the problem in a post called “Is Fox New Fair and Balanced on Immigration Reform” and one called “Fox News Trots Out Rubio to Promote Amnesty Once Again.”

I wasn’t the only conservative with a megaphone who was dismayed by Fox News’ virtual exclusion of anti-amnesty thought. It was a common complaint. However, almost no one wanted publicly to expres the concern because (and I heard this said) of Fox News’ make-you-or-break-you power. This is the matter Scott raises near the end of his post.

Fortunately, for whatever reason, Fox News ended Team Amnesty’s monopoly on the debate over immigration reform. Hannity began to ask tougher questions and raise doubts. Ann Coulter, for example, began appearing to express the anti-amnesty side.

Here we come to what I think is an important distinction. Fox News had no obligation to lead the charge against the Schumer-Rubio legislation which, by the way, was supported by many on the center-right. But it had an obligation, in my view, to give opponents of amnesty the opportunity to state their case forcefully.

Eventually, Fox News fulfilled this obligation, in my opinion.

When it comes to Obama’s executive amnesty, little division exists on the center-right. Nearly, everyone in this cohort agrees that Obama has acted illegally. But many on the center-right agree with the idea of the amnesty. In fact, the Obama amnesty is less sweeping than that of Schumer-Rubio, whose legislation also provided a path to citizenship.

Thus, unlike Kaus, I don’t expect Fox News to “wage a rousing campaign against Obama’s executive actions on immigration.” I do expect it to cover the story, and not just perfunctorily, and to make sure that forceful opponents of the amnesty have their say.

I haven’t been watching enough Fox News to know whether Fox News is meeting this standard. However, Kaus has been keeping score and his evidence suggests that Fox News has fallen well short.

As for Kaus’ departure, it strikes me as unfortunate that the Daily Caller apparently has an iron rule against criticizing Fox News. Is this a rule that Fox News insists on? Or did Tucker Carlson impose it on his own, out of an abundance of caution or over-protectiveness?

Either way, Scott’s question stands: Does the dominance of FOX News constrain conservative criticism of FOX News itself? It seems so to me.


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