Fox news has been brow-beating the very candidates you’d normally expect them to cow-tow to as part of a strategy to appear more “neutral” to the public during the 2012 election.
This chaotic and raucous primary season is demonstrating that Roger Ailes will put the interests of his network ahead of all else. If 2010 was the year that Fox fueled the tea party — culminating in record ratings and the Republican sweep of the House midterms — 2012 is shaping up to be the year that Ailes decided Fox will benefit if the political world recognizes that his network is willing to make GOP candidates sweat in front of their base. Like any good candidate, the network plans to tack toward the center for the general election.
It’s a complex game Ailes is playing. Conversations with Fox sources and media executives suggest a new strategy: Fox is trying to credibly capture the center without alienating its loyal core of rabid viewers. To this end, the network is flexing its news-gathering muscles in high-profile ways that will capture media attention.
Sorry, I just don’t buy it. But, what the hell. It should be interesting to watch as this election unfolds.
An interesting side note is that while FOX is trying to shift to the center from the right, President Obama may need to start shifting that way from the right:
If President Obama loses in 2012, it will not be because liberals are complaining, as Chait suggests, but because Obama failed to address those “inchoate and emotional” concerns. The nation as a whole is feeling uncertain. Citizens don’t know if their jobs are safe (or if they’ll find a job at all), if their pensions are secure, or if their country will be able to meet the challenges of the future. Both the reasons for and solutions to this new malaise are unclear to ordinary citizens, but they know that leadership is at the heart of the problem.
And leadership is the substance of the liberal critique. When Chris Matthews calls Obama a transactional politician or James Carville questions his courage and manhood, they are not being nostalgic or utopian. They are channeling a general American frustration, and it is this that Obama must overcome to be reelected, not liberal criticism. Liberals will stand with the president even if he fails to stand up for us because we know that the alternative would be far worse.
Liberals will vote for him no matter what. That’s a given. What Obama has to worry about is whether the much-needed center and left-leaning Republicans will.
For all the whining that the left does about how centrist Obama seems to them, he doesn’t come across that way to anyone else.