After his very public resignation from Fox News over Tucker Carlson’s January 6th “documentary, conservative Stephen Hayes has landed at NBC News.
NBC News says Hayes “will appear regularly across all NBC News platforms” and “contribute to the network’s special political and election coverage.”
.@thedispatch's @stephenfhayes joins @NBCNews as a Contributor & Political Analyst.— NBC News PR (@NBCNewsPR) January 28, 2022
He will appear regularly across all NBC News platforms including @TODAYshow, @MeetThePress & @NBCNewsNow, and contribute to the network's special political and election coverage. pic.twitter.com/PpwkHvYeG2
Hayes and fellow conservative Jonah Goldberg left Fox News in November, after being sidelined by the network for lack of Trump fealty. Carlson’s “Patriot Purge” special about January 6th was the last straw for the two. They explained their decision on The Dispatch, saying, “the voices of the responsible are being drowned out by the irresponsible” as the network promotes “the false claims and bizarre narratives of Donald Trump.”
(Hayes image via screen grab)
I’d like to also note that there are such things as real journalism networks. Like CBS News. The New York Times. CNN. They employ reporters to research and present current events every day. They have done this for their entire existence, going back hundreds of years for some newspapers. There was never any “need” to inflict a Fox News.
Fox News is not, and never was, a real journalism network. It was always intended to be angry Right Wing propaganda that could counter any inconvenient facts and truths, and thus give an angry Right Wing audience a safe space where they could have their prejudices reinforced “on the news” every day and night. And it was designed to make enough of a negative space that when sane people called it out for its behavior, angry Right Wingers could retort that it was the real journalists who were the propagandists.
In the longer term, outlets like Fox News have not simply begot their more extreme progeny like OAN – they’ve allowed more cynical Right Wingers to push the false narrative that EVERY news organization is pushing biased propaganda. And too many people are falling for that line today.
Hayes was not at Fox News to provide actual analysis – he was there to give a scholarly vice to angry Right Wing propaganda. And he knew it. He happily took their money to do this for a decade. As such, he was part of a long term effort by angry Right Wingers to push American discourse as far to the Right as they could, and to cheapen that discourse to the lowest denominator. (In fairness, most Right Wing debate is held at a fairly simple level, with the pundits regularly posing to just be “one of the folks”.) Hayes repeatedly dignified openly specious talking points about President Obama and the Dems, and he knew they were specious. But they allowed angry Right Wing pundits to rile up the GOP base and set the stage for the 2010 midterms.
The change we’ve seen since 2016 is that Fox News and the Right went all-in for the Pence White House, because they were literally getting every policy win they wanted, and because they enjoyed watching Pence’s childish former spokesman bullying their mutual enemies. Hayes was part of this too. It wasn’t until after they lost the 2020 election that Hayes soured on the program. In that aftermath, many Fox News viewers abandoned ship for even fringier angry Right Wing outlets like Newsmax. So Fox News has lurched into the fringe territory to try to get them back. And it’s causing more “serious” faces like Hayes and Chris Wallace (and a less serious one like Carl Cameron) to flee to actual journalism networks, presumably to get some of the stench off of themselves. (At the same time, multiple Fox News rejects have jumped at the chance to appear on the smaller fringe propaganda outlets – Eric Bolling and Ed Henry come to mind…)
It’s fine for Hayes to get a talking head position at a real network. They just need to introduce and couch him properly. Perhaps they could give him an on-screen placard of “Right Wing Propagandist, Formerly on Fox News” every time he answers a question.
Looking back, I’ve realised that the so-called conservative voices haven’t been that good at delivering conservative messages. Rather the contrary. The likes of Jeffrey Lord (ugh), Kayleigh McEnany (embarrassingly ugh), Rick Santorum (sanctimoniously ugh), Scott Jennings (ditto), etc. don’t do much more than irritate viewers with basic skills in critical analysis. Further, none of these fools has ever provided the daily fix of fact-free, hate-full rhetoric needed by the faithful. That may be why conservative pundits have such a brief shelf life.
When the hosts have had enough with their silliness, the “conservative pundit du jour” is replaced by an equally inane new face. Conservative pundits who sound even a tad reasonable have a brief shelf life on MSM.
If they come up with a way to spin it into pro-MAGA propaganda, it will suddenly start popping up like weeds.
NBC is hiring someone who thought Fox was “good for the country” pre-Trump. Here’s what Hayes and Goldberg wrote about their resignations for The Dispatch. (https://thedispatch.com/p/why-we-are-leaving-fox-news)
“We joined Fox News as contributors in early 2009. Combined, that’s more than 20 years of experience, relationships, and friendships. For most of that time, we were proud to be associated with the network, if not necessarily with every program, opinion, or scandal that aroused controversy. We believed, sincerely, that the country needed Fox News. Whether you call it liberal media bias or simply a form of groupthink around certain narratives, having a news network that brought different assumptions and asked different questions—while still providing real reporting and insightful conservative analysis and opinion—was good for the country and journalism.”
Sure, a conservative news network could have been good for the country. And sure, some of Fox’s programming provided real reporting and insight. But as the Outfoxed documentary demonstrated way back in 2004 (https://youtu.be/P74oHhU5MDk), Fox has always been a propaganda machine. That includes the “objective” news programming (https://tinyurl.com/2ba6rwrb). It has just become exponentially worse now and now in service to authoritarian disinformation.
In November, I said about Hayes and Goldberg that in the age of Trump and Tucker Carlson, I believe in taking allies where we find them. (https://tinyurl.com/2pctjd39)
But that doesn’t necessarily mean hiring them as political analysts.
On the other hand, people do learn and grown so I’m willing to give Hayes the benefit of the doubt.