Fox News contributor Jonah Goldberg was surprisingly candid about and critical of Fox News.
Guests are pre-screened before they appear on Fox or any other show so it seems unlikely that nobody knew that Goldberg would call out conservative cancel culture when he joined a segment about liberal cancel culture. Whether anyone knew how far he’d go is another question.
Kurtz set up conservative victimhood in his introduction which referenced “more than 100 Politico staffers” upset because Ben Shapiro was allowed to guest-write its Playbook newsletter after MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and CNN’s Don Lemon had a turn. Kurtz said, “Plans to feature other conservatives were dropped.”
But Kurtz’s suggestion that it was Shapiro’s conservative views that upset Politico staffers is misleading. As The Daily Beast notes, Shapiro was controversial partly because of his long record of incendiary comments about the LGBT community, Muslims, Black Americans, and Jews who support Democratic politicians. Media Matters points out that he also has a long record of spreading disinformation.
Goldberg did not launch into the kind of rant about liberal media bias one might have expected. “I think there are a lot of things going on here,” Goldberg began. He called it “a generational thing” for younger liberals and conservatives to be intolerant of dissenting points of view.
But Kurtz stuck to his conservative-grievance talking points. Referencing Donald Trump getting booted from Twitter, Kurtz “asked,” “Is there an emerging alliance here in your view between big tech and some of these more woke or younger, you would say, liberals who are offended by having to hear or read conservatives views, particularly at their own publication?”
This, days after Fox’s own digital politics editor, Chris Stirewalt, went public about getting fired for correctly calling Arizona’s presidential election results for Joe Biden.
Goldberg didn’t go there. But he did call out Donald Trump as “a huge fan” of canceling people:
GOLDBERG: It’s certainly true that at big tech firms, the rank and file are going to be left-leaning, woke, whatever label we want to put on them. And so their instincts are going to catch right-wing talk that they hate much more quickly than problematic left-wing talk.
But I have to be honest about this. This is an American problem. There is a vast and thriving right-wing cancel culture. There is a vast and thriving left-wing cancel culture. The only thing that makes them separate and different is the sociology of them. It’s that you have certain kinds of people at certain institutions who have different kind of canceling.
But President Trump was a huge fan of canceling people. He tried to have me fired from Fox and from National Review because he didn’t like what I wrote. This is a problem that we have in America, of widespread intolerance for disagreement.
Kurtz sounded nonplussed. “Just to follow up, he personally tried to have you fired from those two places?”
GOLDBERG: On Twitter, I can report that – as president and as acandidate [Trump] expressed a burning desire to not see me on Fox any more. And look, the other part of it is that – he definitely tried to have me fired from National Review, which I left a while ago.
Rather than press for details about how the president of the United States was engaging in exactly the same behavior that Kurtz was criticizing, he changed the subject to Fox’s conservative victimhood:
KURTZ: Let me jump in. … I want to broaden it because speaking of Fox, there are liberals at major outlets who are now saying cable operators should drop Fox News or Fox shouldn’t be allowed to exist. Now we all know they’re not talking about the news division, they’re talking about certain opinion people whose views – rather than just saying I think they’re wrong and here’s why, they want off the air.
GOLDBERG: Yeah, look, I think the idea of bringing back the Fairness Doctrine is idiotic. I think a lot of these people don’t really understand how the fairness doctrine worked and it doesn’t apply to cable anyway. But it’s absolutely true that there are people who want to see Fox nuked from orbit and I think that’s ridiculous.
At the same time, it should not be surprising and you’re right to single out the news division as different, but it should not be surprising when people from the opinion division perpetuate lies about the election being stolen, who are more concerned about canceling Liz Cheney than they are about canceling Marjorie Taylor Greene, as you guys talked about a minute ago. This is a problem all over the place. And it’s incumbent upon institutions on either side to police their own in responsible ways and turn things down a little bit and not push out misinformation and lies, lest you invite that kind of backlash which would make everything worse.
KURTZ: Yeah, well, what really troubles me – for most of my career, journalists were fierce defenders of free speech. Now, I think ideology, whatever view it is, right now I think we’re seeing a lot aimed at the right, is in favor, I think, at times, of suppressing free speech.
I am no fan of Goldberg’s politics, nor do I buy his bothsidesism about Marjorie Taylor Greene or Fox News extremism. But it takes courage and conviction for a conservative to say what he did on Fox, especially when he gets a paycheck from them, and I applaud that. The Democrats on Fox could take a lesson from him.
You can watch it below, from the January 31, 2021 MediaBuzz.