President Obama doesn’t seem to be taking Hillary Clinton’s defeat well.
On Tuesday, the president blamed a rather familiar critic for playing a large role in Hillary’s loss: Fox News. As reported by The Washington Post:
Jann S. Wenner of Rolling Stone didn’t bring up the topic of Fox News. President Obama volunteered it in an interview right after Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump. Asked whether he thinks the United States is a progressive country, Obama replied that Democrats are having trouble reaching white working-class voters.
“There is a cohort of working-class white voters that voted for me in sizable numbers, but that we’ve had trouble getting to vote for Democrats in midterm elections,” said the president. “In this election, [they] turned out in huge numbers for Trump. And I think that part of it has to do with our inability, our failure, to reach those voters effectively. Part of it is Fox News in every bar and restaurant in big chunks of the country, but part of it is also Democrats not working at a grass-roots level, being in there, showing up, making arguments.”
Fox News has undoubtedly leaned more conservative in terms of the scope of its news commentary than its rival outlets. Its viewer demographic, broken down ideology via Pew Research, reflects that.
The first problem with Obama using Fox News as a scapegoat for being on “in every bar and restaurant” is that liberals don’t tend to watch it. When broken down further, the most pro-Trump show on the network, “Hannity,” gets only 6% of its viewership from liberals.
Lest everyone should forget, Fox News has not been a consistently pro-Trump network, either. Megyn Kelly has been a fount of controversy since her famous public tiff with The Donald in late 2015. Trump even skipped out on a Fox debate, shirking a potentially hostile confrontation, and arguably, damaging its ratings.
Fox News’ confrontational attitude—as ratings-driven and cynical as it may be at times—has made it the most trusted network; that’s according to viewers, not the left-leaning political class. Its perennially high ratings both anger and astound the left; although it still does not draw nearly as many viewers as the other networks put together.
The bottom line is that Fox News doesn’t have the ability to single-handedly sway the election for Trump. Recall that many of its viewers were angry that any moderators confronted Trump in adversarial fashion during the debates. But at the end of the day, Trump was able to overcome his critics, including Fox News.
Another flaw in Obama’s argument is that its Republican audience is already inclined to vote that way, its centrist demographic is geared to draw from several sources of information, and liberal viewers are even more likely to seek out news that doesn’t conflict with their worldview.
Obama’s potshot at Fox News and its viewers is an extension of another form of Democratic denial about the election: That “fake news” represents a threat to democracy. As the president said in September, as reported by CNN:
At a fundraiser in New York City, he cited political polarization and specifically called out the influence of conservative media.
“This should not be a close election, but it will be. And the reason it will be is not because of Hillary’s flaws, but rather because, structurally, we’ve become a very polarized society,” Obama said Sunday.
He continued, “If all you’re doing is watching Fox News and listening to Rush Limbaugh and reading some of the blogs that are churning out a lot of misinformation on a regular basis, then it’s very hard for you to think that you’re going to vote for somebody who you’ve been told is taking the country in the wrong direction.”
“And so, structurally, we already have these divisions and it’s going to be hard to overcome those,” Obama said.
This new narrative – news outlets that don’t echo Democratic talking points or aren’t left-wing fellow travelers are somehow engaging in “disinformation” – smacks like a “disavow what you do” type of complaint. If one is engaging in disinformation, what better political tactic can there be than to call out and to seek silencing alternative narratives?
“Progressives” stridently demanding conformity with political correctness—whether or not it threatens the core institutions of Western society—is never to blame for polarization in their eyes. It is only those who resist the left’s “long march” through the culture and the tiers of power who are to blame—even when done in response to the most divisive president in the nation’s history.
The left says that critical voices like Fox News and other conservative outlets represent a threat to “democracy.”
Ironically though, it is uniformity in the news that represents the true threat.