Nobody Here But Us Liberals….

I would direct your attention, however briefly, to a fairly typical tirade by Fox News’ Kirsten Powers on the Fox website about the bottomless fear in the hearts of all Foxies at the many threats to their freedom and livelihood posed by the tyrant Barack Obama, who is annoyed the brave, lonely island of dissent will not “fall in line and treat him as emperor.”

She never does get around to identifying any actual threats to Fox of any action that would endanger its freedom of expression, and seems mainly concerned about a proposed Media Matters campaign to “shame” Democrats out of appearing on Fox. And that bugs her, presumably, because she likes to identify herself as a Democrat, and mirabile dictu, in the midst of the tirade we are talking about, as “a liberal.”

As it happens, I think we do indeed need a cone of tolerance within which Democrats and liberals can be critical of the president or other party leaders when they feel it necessary. But to be effective, this open atmosphere requires a degree of trust that the people taking advantage of it actually are Democrats, and not just faking it to make a living pretending to represent non-existent Democratic constituencies on Fox News. For that reason I no longer consider people like Pat Caddell or Doug Schoen or Kirsten Powers Democrats at all, since it’s been years and years and years since any of these people has said anything positive about “their” party. That doesn’t mean I want to revoke their free speech rights, but they need to just go ahead and switch parties and stop serving as props whereby Fox viewers are deceived into thinking they are watching and hearing “bipartisan” discussions.

And before anyone says it, no, this is not what the Democratic Leadership Council used to do. Yes, DLC types often criticized Democrats, but always in terms, however wise or foolish, of how to help Democrats win elections and govern effectively. In my years there, I also wrote hundreds of thousands of words criticizing Republicans, often in fairly vitriolic terms. I won’t by any means defend everything the DLC did (see this essay if you want my own assessment), but confusing it with the kind of game Kirstin Powers is playing just isn’t accurate.

Meanwhile, I do wonder how long Ms. Powers can sustain her attitude of perpetual outrage toward anyone to the left of her, which means well over half of everybody. So much heat, so little light!

UPDATE: Ms. Powers and her fans (via Twitter) have taken great umbrage at this post, based on claims that she does, indeed, defend Obama and take “liberal” positions on-air all the time. I will freely admit I do not watch Fox often, and will not do so in order to confirm or refute my impressions of Kirstin Powers, derived from her occasional non-TV utterances. So I apologize for over-generalizing, and readers who do watch Fox for whatever reason can offer their impressions in the comment thread.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.