A reader writes:
Andrew, I disagree with this line of yours: “The point is surely that the only "liberals" allowed on Fox News are the ones designed to buttress the "conservative" worldview.”
I have appeared on Fox dozens of times. I have never appropriated the conservative view of Fox; as a matter of fact, in sticking with my moderate-to-left leaning views while armed with several cogent facts at my fingertips, and more importantly, understanding the nature of the adversarial Fox format, I have consistently come out on top of each “debate” every time, if I may say so myself.
You see, it is obvious going in that a debate on Fox is often two against one; you go against the other Party representative, and the host is very often not neutral. The most ridiculous is Laura Ingraham, who just wants to belittle and berate, so I stopped going on with her when she subbed for O’Reilly (O’Reilly was always fair to me). But I have appeared with too many others to count - Ann Coulter, Robert Livingston, Dan Senor - and I have found that if you are prepared and stay cool, you can get your point across in a way that may change a few minds.
There is no doubt that a liberal on Fox is speaking to people who mostly disagree. But it is also fun to fight back - to make a point that stops the other person in their tracks. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my opponent get flustered in the format, because they expect to be able to say whatever they want without being called out. A few weeks ago, I did the Fox morning show, and my opponent was talking about Obama and the Black Panthers and Leonard Bernstein, and I just shook my head while she was talking and said, “Okay, let’s get back to the real world.” She seemed so surprised - she was dismissed for her wackiness. I can’t tell you how often this has happened - if the Republican makes a point, I question it. I don’t let it go. If the hostess says something like, “We all know Rudy Giuliani is tough on terror,” and then she asks a question that follows that, I don’t answer the question, as many Democrats seem to do, because it makes it seem as if her original statement is fact. I ask, “How do you know Rudy Giuliani is tough on terror?”
Now, let me say this for the folks at Fox: they have invited me on almost every one of their shows. They know I will strongly disagree with my opponent and perhaps the host. In the O’Reilly preview of the State of the Union, we disagreed on the status of health care legislation, but it was a fair disagreement; the other guest, Mark Halperin, backed up my point of view - that Obama would push for health care and not give up following the Scott Brown victory. On Election Night 2009, O’Reilly and I disagreed over the meaning of Republican wins in New Jersey and Virginia, but no one watching that show would tell me I didn’t get my point across in a way that made sense, and without taking on the “conservative” worldview.
I have stuck to my guns, and Fox responded by frequently inviting me back on their shows. Now, you can tell me that Fox does have on liberals who become conservatives when they go on; or, they have on liberals who make such ridiculous points that they can’t be taken seriously. All true. But I go on, too, and I am absolutely certain that I do not fit into your opinion of liberals who go on Fox.