By Eric Boehlert - it's becoming increasingly clear that Fox's programming and the radical, fear-based agenda it's setting for Republicans is now doing lasting damage to the Grand Old Party.
That's because Fox News isn't simply offering a rightward take on the day's events, or innocently providing Republican-friendly commentary, of course. It's leading an exhausting, day-in, day-out attack campaign against Obama, Democrats and all their liberal allies. (Real or imagined.) Its relentless, paranoid crusade falls well outside the mainstream of American politics, which is why the Republican primary season, so proudly sponsored by Fox News, is shaping up to be such an embarrassment.
Make no mistake, kingmaker Ailes has made sure his channel's profoundly un-serious stamp permeates this year's GOP contest. For more and more spooked Republicans though, it's a stamp of failure and looming defeat.
For Ailes and company, that slash-and-burn formula works wonders in terms of super-serving its hardcore, hard-right audience of three million viewers. But in terms of supporting a serious, national campaign and a serious, national conversation? It's not working. At all.
As Fox News has moved in and essentially replaced the RNC as the driving electoral force in Republican politics today, and with Ailes ensconced in his kingmaker role, candidates have had to bow down to Fox in search of votes and the channel's coveted free airtime. That means campaigns have been forced to become part of the channel's culture of personal destruction, as well as its signature self-pity.
The truth is, the Republican Establishment all but ceded control of the party, or at least the public face of the party, to Fox News (and Rush Limbaugh) in January, 2009. Party leaders, demoralized by John McCain's electoral landslide defeat, faded into the background and obediently followed Fox News' often-hysterical lead as Rupert Murdoch's cable channel unveiled an unprecedented effort to demonize and delegitimize the newly elected president. (In the Fox-led world, it's conventional wisdom that Obama's a foreign, race-baiting Marxist who undermines Israel and is determined to destroy the American way of life.)
With Fox News at the irresponsible helm, the conservative movement in America, including the emerging Tea Party, became first and foremost a media movement, and one that gleefully cut ties with common sense and decency.
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