Fox and the GOP: Who’s Working for Whom?

Via Media Matters, former-Bush-speechwriter-turned-iconoclast-conservative David Frum appeared on ABC’s Nightline last night to discuss the politics of health care. Frum, pushing the argument that lockstep opposition from right-wing media actually helped advance a Democratic bill, said:

Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we are discovering we work for Fox… The thing that sustains a strong Fox network is the thing that undermines a strong Republican Party.

This analysis of who holds the upper hand in the Fox-GOP relationship, and how the incentives are aligned, tracks closely with the conclusion reached by Terry McDermott in the cover story of the current issue of CJR:

But is [Fox] an arm of the GOP? Not unless you think Roger Ailes would actually work for Michael Steele. It is more likely the other way around. Steele, in some broader cultural sense, works for Ailes, who is without close contest the most powerful Republican in the country today. The national Republican Party has shrunk to a narrow base with no apparent agenda other than to oppose everything the Obama administration proposes. This extends even to opposing policies Republicans either created or once supported. In explaining these reversals, Republicans frequently say that their changes of position—for example, on deficit-reduction measures that they routinely dismissed when in the majority—owes mainly to changes in national circumstances. But the main circumstance that seems to have changed is their loss of formal power in Washington. This suits Fox perfectly, and gives heft to its self-definition as an insurgency.

You can read McDermott’s story here, and find a longer version of Frum’s argument here.

Update: Video of the full segment, courtesy of ABC, now embedded below. The section with Frum begins at about the two-minute mark.

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Greg Marx is an associate editor at CJR. Follow him on Twitter @gregamarx.