I understand the distinction between their news and opinion hosts, and I’m not one of those people who thinks it’s their job to defend Trump, but I’m starting to find Fox News — even their opinion people at night — completely unwatchable.
I’ll start with Laura Ingraham because I just switched her program off to write this piece, which had been brewing for several days now. I never really paid her much attention but always assumed, based on the small doses I got before they gave her her own show, that she was whip smart and honest and direct and strong. But having seen quite a bit of her lately, the host of a program with an array of guests is no place for her Type A personality. And watching her try to navigate between pretending to be a gracious host while still bulldozing through any thought she has and any segment she wants to wrap up, is just grating. And I’m sorry — but what’s her obsession with that fancy Raymond Arroyo guy? They’re like a wannabe CNN New Year’s Eve duo, and it doesn’t work any better for them than it does for the idiots at CNN. Ingraham was probably good at one time. I’m pretty certain of it. But as the steward of a full hour of Fox News’ prime time real estate, she’s become a complete slouch. This is my opinion. Some of you love her, no doubt. I see things a little differently and usually a few layers deeper than what’s on the surface, and I’m telling you with great confidence that she’s starting to hate what she does and she’s losing the patience to do it well and she’s getting desperate for gimmicky fillers like she gets with the hours and hours she cedes to that Arroyo guy. And it’s hard for me to watch.
Providing he writes his own monologues, Tucker Carlson is a brilliant mind. And I personally owe him a great deal because he was one of the very first people to ever respond to me in email. (He actually introduced me over email to the then Editor in Chief at The Daily Caller, and that’s how I was able to start writing professionally a while back.) But watching him virtue signal his way through this Wuhan Virus stuff is really tough to sit through. It was particularly rough back when he had Ohio’s Director of Public Health, Amy Acton, on. It was a day after she claimed without evidence that 100,000 Ohioans were definitely walking around with the virus. She started the interview ready to walk that back, hedging that she “was tired” when she made her terrifying and uninformed implication. But Tucker didn’t want to hear it. Instead he leaned squarely into calling her a hero for making the claim, and saying we need more people like her doing the same. It was tough to watch. And I think Tucker, to a certain degree like Laura, is just tired. I can’t imagine doing what they do day in and day out. The pressure, the exhaustion, the criticisms from peanut gallery audience members like myself…it’s a rough life and however much money they make, they earn every penny and then some.
But as an audience member who is watching Laura start to hate her job and Tucker start to let off the gas in terms of intellectual honesty and curiosity, I’m not going to not mention these things.
Hannity…he’s always been bittersweet for me. In addition to Michelle Malkin, Mollie Hemingway and Rush Limbaugh, he rounds out the extremely short list of conservative commentators I both like and respect. And for Hannity, it’s all about him truly believing in what he does. I’ve lamented for years that most amplified conservative media and political figures come to do good, stay to do well, and in the end do nothing but help themselves and each other. But Hannity cares more than most of us grassroots warriors do. The guy is as authentic as they come. But he’s also been “unwatchable” for me for some years. I can always just predict and expect the exact same stuff out of him. And it’s great! We need cheerleaders and people who rally the faithful! But I’m a different kind of media consumer. And in fact I mostly tune into CNN and MSNBC because I’m a big fan of hearing what my opposition is saying. (I only switch away from CNN or MSNBC when things are getting really bad for “my side” politically. And I hadn’t done it for more than a few hours at a time in the last several years. But to give you an idea of just how bad things are for Trump supporters and our movement right now, thanks to the liberal media’s dishonesty and the conservative media’s inability to fight back, I haven’t switched off of Fox News in the last two weeks!) So watching Hannity has never been easy for me unless things are particularly bad and I need someone to vent for me or remind me that I’m not alone. And he’s excellent for that.
Of Fox News’ prime time line-up, Hannity is the most durably likable and respectable. But it’s just always the same stuff and while for millions of people it’s pitch perfect, for me personally — it’s just not something I consistently want to tune in to.
Then you get to the straight news people.
Bill Hemmer and Brian Kilmeade seem like two of the purely nicest people you’ll ever meet. Hemmer in more of a boy scout way and Kilmeade more along the lines of a class clown, but both just straight up good dudes if you peel back all the layers.
And you won’t get a better hour of news in any 24-hour period than Bret Baier delivers on Special Report. Absolutely excellent with tremendous reporting from stars like Jennifer Griffin and Kevin Corke. Shannon Bream is a very, very close second to Baier. Her ability to moderate productive panels consisting of vastly opposing viewpoints is a true testament to her grace and quiet but strong leadership. Baier and Bream, together, make Fox News the absolute best news medium — televised or otherwise — that you’ll find anywhere on the planet.
But the rest — honestly — I just can’t stand.
Sandra Smith at some point in the last year or so started doing her best to make Shep Smith and Chris Wallace blush with pride. Martha MacCallum wants so badly to be liked by the left that she refuses to do anything but fawn over them when they appear as guests on her show. Watching her interview Symone Sanders from the Biden campaign the day after he literally threatened a voter with violence while getting 5 out of 5 facts wrong during the same exchange with that voter, and never mention a single word of any of it but use up valuable time to compliment Sanders for her bodyguard duties, was the last straw. I’ll never look at MacCallum the same again. And there’s nothing she can do about it because she was so good at being so bad, that I know any ground she tries to make up is just a product of pandering.
The weekend people try too hard to impress their liberal media peers.
Chris Stirewalt has never been quite so happy with himself as he is when he’s regurgitating NeverTrump / Conserving Conservatism Inc. talking points, and Marc Thiessen shares the exact same character flaw only he has the added negative bonus of that creepy smile like he just got done flashing a roomful of nuns and completely got away with it.
I have to throw props at Harris Faulkner who is reliably strong and smart and would probably kick butt and take names in a prime time slot of they ever gave her one. She can and does do straight news but also brings intellectual honesty and fairness to her opinionated commentary and analysis in ways that make people like me who have long longed for both, stand up and cheer. There’s a lot to like about her and if we all got to see more of her in more valuable real estate, I bet she’d impress in once-in-a-generation ways.
Cavuto, like MacCallum, proved himself irredeemably bad when he failed to apologize or walk back his much celebrated (by Trump haters) mischaracterization of comments Trump made.
Chris Wallace is one of the most insufferable people on television. Full stop. End of story. The guy is a total disaster and he wouldn’t be here at all if it weren’t for his father. He’d be a broken down middle manager in some business-to-business sales organization with a single story of pure genius that happened once in his lifetime and has carried him every step of the way since.
It’s just like every time I look up and Fox News is on, I get annoyed with them. And that’s especially true during this Wuhan Virus hysteria which — full disclosure, if it’s not already obvious — has me kind of fuming at everyone because I think they’ve all fed into the larger media’s promotion of panic, which I know with absolute certainty was and is intended solely to do long term political damage to President Trump.
So it’s a frustrating time. And as noted in a piece from earlier today, there are very few heavy hitters anywhere around conservative or other media who I can really look at right now and commend for the work they’re doing.
I should also note that Gutfeld is a genius. He’s a little quirky and for the love of all that’s holy someone needs to help Tom Shillue write some better material. But Gutfeld is one of the key players on the right who’s helping us win where I’ve always said it matters most: in the culture, socially. (Because that’s what leads to actual mandates for real and lasting change in the legislature, politically.)
Jesse Waters? Meh. Like Ingraham, his Type A authority jumps off the screen in a grating way. A lot of these Type A people just don’t have the patience to really do a consistently good job in these roles, and that’s becoming really clear for both Ingraham and Waters every time I watch either of them. Both have their good moments. Sure. But generally, they’re not people I’d ever want to DVR or consider in any way “can’t miss.”
(Side note about what I do actually record, and why: I DVR 4 shows during the week. Baier and Bream because, as noted, they’re the best anywhere. And also Chuck Todd’s MTP Daily and Jake Tapper’s The Lead because, on the other side of the coin, they’re the worst and most egregiously detrimental to the integrity of the Fourth Estate and the public’s trust in it. I also DVR virtually every Sunday show and typically, somehow, manage to watch every second of every one: Meet The Press, Face The Nation, This Week, State Of The Union, Fox News Sunday, Sunday Morning Futures and Media Buzz. I DVR’d Reliable Sources for years but honestly…and remember, this is coming from someone who thrives hearing what the opposition says…I just can’t take Stelter in any way even remotely seriously anymore. He’s so terrible in so many ways that he’s fallen off the radar as even being worthy of my criticisms!)
Oh…and poor Judge Jeanine. She’s like Hannity. She really means it and she really cares. But she doesn’t have nearly his interpersonal stride or work ethic, and it shows. I can’t even count how many times it was blatantly obvious that she either just tuned out when a person she was interviewing was talking (including President Trump himself), or she couldn’t multi-task pretending to listen to the guest while also managing the producer’s voice in her ear. She’s a good egg. And I know a lot of you adore her. But to me, I just can’t even get through a few minutes of her show.
So that’s it.
Venting here a bit because again, as noted, I’m frustrated with the entire conservative media landscape.
I’ve argued for months that rather than play into the liberal media’s hands and continue responding to the storylines and corresponding characterizations that they put out there exclusively to damage President Trump and put targets on the backs of his supporters, we should be flipping the script hard and making the liberal media itself the main story. So watching everyone on “our side” now virtue signal as hard as they can right alongside the liberal media as they gin up panic and tank our economy all in a last ditch effort to hurt Trump before the election, it’s a soul-crushingly painful time for ultimately voiceless grassroots warriors like myself.
Credit where it’s due to Fox News’ straight news all stars Baier and Bream. And to Hannity who’s been doing this forever because the guy cares more than even most of us in the grassroots whose voicelessness gives way to greater passion and at times ferocity.
The rest of them, amid my immediate frustrations, kind of suck to the point that I find the network mostly unwatchable at this point.
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