Not surprisingly, the network that can’t stop whining about “cancel culture” is itself a big culture canceler, itself, in this case canceling anti-Trump conservatism.
In a Los Angeles Times column about the resignations of Steve Hayes and himself from Fox News, Jonah Goldberg clearly longed for the “good old Fox” that existed pre-Trump. Calling their resignations “an unhappy decision,” Goldberg added that the two delayed that decision for “so long” because “we hoped — and had reason to believe — that Fox would get back on course, and we wanted to help get it there.”
For Goldberg and Hayes, though, the release of Tucker Carlson’s “dangerous” special “Patriot Purge” was the last straw and “proof that waiting for Fox to get back on track would be like waiting for Godot.” (You can read more about Goldberg’s and Hayes’ on-target criticisms of Patriot Purge here)
Goldberg didn’t address it in his column but he probably knew that no course correction is coming soon because Fox’s Trumpism is being driven from the top. He also probably knew that senior Fox News personnel, including Hayes’ long-time close friend, Bret Baier and Chris Wallace, hosts of two of the few shows willing to book Goldberg and Hayes in recent years, objected to “Patriot Purge.” NPR’s David Folkenflik reported on that tidbit and that, “Those objections rose to Lachlan Murdoch, the chairman and CEO of the network's parent company, Fox Corp.” Clearly, Murdoch overrode them.
Goldberg goes on to criticize what he called “manufactured consensus” on cable news, meaning that “opinion journalists are treated as interchangeable with partisan flacks who are literally paid to defend a party and its positions,” even though “most of the interesting debates in America are intra-partisan,” Goldberg writes. But, thanks to Trump, things became “much worse at Fox.”
Because Trump is a thin-skinned narcissist, he has no tolerance for criticism, and neither do his very vocal fans among the viewers and the punditocracy. This is why he was a leading champion [sic] of “cancel culture,” attacking conservative critics like Charles Krauthammer, George Will, Hayes and me.
Fox has always been a right-wing, GOP message machine that has long waged war on any policy, ideas or personnel that didn’t fall in line. (See the phony war on Christmas and Thanksgiving, e.g.) But Goldberg is right that under Trump, the network has become much worse. But so has the GOP:
I’ve talked to scores of elected Republicans and conservative pundits, with opinions ranging from principled disagreement to outright contempt for Trump. But good luck getting many of them to say it publicly. The message, amplified constantly by Trump and his boosters, is that all “true” conservatives love Trump in every regard.
In the wake of the Jan. 6 riot, it became routine for Trump partisans to claim that criticism of his effort to steal the election amounted to an insult to everyone who voted for Trump, as if 74 million people voted for the riot and the lies that led to it.
Goldberg is right that Fox’s cancel culture has gotten worse in the age of Trump. Besides the fact that Goldberg and Hayes were about to be officially canceled by Fox, according to the network, Fox’s own Tucker Carlson (who pretends to champion free speech) was a vision of petulant cancel culture when, instead of wishing the two luck or saying he regretted their inability to see the wisdom of his “Patriot Purge,” he suggested that he wished they had been canceled sooner, saying that their departure would “substantially improve the channel” because “"No one wants to watch commentary that stupid."
You can see Goldberg address some of this in a January 31, 2021 appearance on Fox News’ MediaBuzz show, which you can watch below.
Every morsel of correct behaviour from the not-so-loony conservative side must be savoured and applauded. It takes courage to withstand the whips and barbs of erstwhile colleagues, even if they are mad as a cut snake. I’m even willing to encourage runaway trumpists in their effort to cleanse themselves of the responsibility they clearly have for the crisis, as long as they do so honestly and without hiding Trump and his collaborators’ gross culpability.
I used to wonder what the MSNBC Never Trumper Republicans would do once Biden took office, given that (presumably) they disagree with his policies, especially the economic ones. But so far, whether for the sake of their paychecks or the sake of continuing to fight Trumpism, or both, they have not.
But Cheney, Goldberg and Hayes don’t have much of a financial incentive to take their stands. Much as I never thought I’d say it, I have to applaud them. In fact, in a shocking (to me) Fox News Sunday discussion, Goldberg and Chris Wallace were more critical of #LyingKayleighMcEnany than Democratic contributor Donna Brazile was. https://www.newshounds.us/chris_wallace_jonah_goldberg_blast_kayleigh_mcenany_s_indefensible_grotesque_behavior_with_reporters_052620
Bottom line for me: With democracy and so much else in peril, I work with all the allies I have. It doesn’t mean we all have to be best buds.
That being said, one has to have a certain regard for the Cheneys, Kitzingers, George Wills and Rick Wilsons of the world. Their natural impulses may be to promote ‘the economy’ over the wellbeing of people, but at least they have the gumption to point out that the Orange Emperor has no clothes.