The post-debate explosives continue. The New York Times, under attack by the Left for becoming the Fox News of the newspaper industry, apparently feels asking fact-based questions of Republican presidential contenders is beyond the pale.
Jeremy Peters wrote in the Times yesterday that,
The triumvirate of Fox News anchors who ran the two-hour event – Chris Wallace, Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier – seemed to have one mission above all else in questioning the 10 would-be presidents they faced across the stage at the Quicken Loans Arena: Make them squirm.
On the surface, such an idea is incredible. Certainly there are very good reasons to think Fox News had it in for Donald Trump. It is no surprise that he is not the first choice of the so-called Establishment, the Republican Party powers that be.
However, if you watched any of the debate, you will realize that it was not just Trump who had to face more than softballs. On the other hand, Peters’ claim that “suggesting someone else might let a woman die rather than allow her to have an abortion” is an attempt to make somebody squirm, only goes to show Peters’ unwillingness to face the facts of Republican anti-abortion legislation, which makes exactly that decision: that a fetus has more value than a living, breathing woman.
This is a paradox of the “pro-life” faction that they are not really pro-life at all, and the mother’s life is only part of the equation. There is also the matter of feeding, clothing, educating, and medically providing for those fetuses when they join the post-born.
We can’t know the reason for Fox News actually asking meaningful questions of the Republican candidates. Peters suggests that this was the network’s way of answering critics’ claims that it is not “a blindly loyal propaganda division of the Republican Party” and that “they can eviscerate with equal opportunity if they choose.”
However, Fox News has never cared about these charges before.
More critically, “eviscerate”? Asking questions based on established, demonstrable facts is evisceration now in The New York Times‘ eyes? Well, perhaps so, considering their own inability to stick to the facts. But such hostility! Peters sounds here more like Sean Hannity than a journalist.
Peters claims that “From the opening moments of the debate, the moderators knew where to turn the screws.” How about the responsibility of the candidates not to say catastrophically stupid things?
Remember, these are 10 men who have built their campaigns around Republican talking points, most of which have barely a passing resemblance to reality.
Granted, Fox News is responsible for this state of affairs, in whole or in part, which created the bizarre circumstance of the moderators asking the candidates questions those talking points could not adequately answer.
Perhaps that is why is seemed harsh to some, including Peters, but objectively, there was nothing untoward about those questions. They were perfectly legitimate, many of them, and if that is unusual for Fox News, that did not make them less legitimate.
To cite just one example, Chris Wallace sounded more like a Democrat when he asked Donald Trump about his latest corporate bankruptcy, which laid off 1100 people and lost $1 billion. But it was a question that mattered, and Trump’s answer says more about himself and his fitness to govern than it does about Fox News.
He was proud, he said, of using bankruptcy to save himself money. Screw the investors, he said, and never even mentioned those 1100 people who suddenly found themselves without work – a rather odd attitude for a guy who is pretending to care about people without jobs.
I will cite just one other example here, and this addresses an issue very much of concern to Democrats, and that is Republicans saying absolutely appalling things and never being called out. Perhaps because they are so used to their free passes by the mainstream media – including The New York Times – Chris Christie was shocked to be put on the spot by Megyn Kelly.
This is how Peters describes it:
In the most overheated confrontations of the evening, Ms. Kelly teed up Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey with a question about whether he really meant it when he said that Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, because of his opposition to the U.S.A. Patriot Act, should shoulder some of the blame in the event of another terrorist attack on the United States. When Mr. Christie responded that, yes, he meant it, Mr. Paul opened up on him while Ms. Kelly sat back with a look of contentment.
So here we are facing this bizarre new reality of the allegedly liberal New York Times attacking Fox News for being too hard on Republicans. Did we all just wake up in an alternate reality?
No, of course not. In 2012, the mainstream media, faced at last with the appalling toll of completely deluded Republican misstatements and contradictions and outright lies, finally began to report on some of them – barely skimming the surface of their totality even then.
The Republican response to even that much actual journalism has been to claim that the mainstream media deliberately “threw the election” for the Democrats. Their own responsibility in creating their untenable situation goes completely unmentioned.
We will likely hear this line again in 2016 and after, if Fox News ever even comes close again to asking the Republican Party’s candidates actual questions, rather than setting them up for their favorite talking points like usual.
No doubt, as Megyn Kelly said at closing, they were “like ‘Get me out of here,'” because they had not expected genuine questions any more than they had expected to be able to get off with their usual talking point non-answers.
The New York Times may feel that asking questions is no longer part of a journalist’s purpose in life, but that is much more an indictment of The New York Times than it is Megyn Kelly or her fellow moderators at Fox News.
Image: Screen capture
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.