Sunday, April 30, 2023

Has Fox Finally Blown It?

Has Fox Finally Blown It?


AP Photo/Richard Drew

How could Fox do this to Tucker and their viewers? That's it. They've finally blown it. Their dominance is over! This will be the moment we all look back on and point to as the moment Fox finally lost their decades of dominance in cable news. Right? 

Well... maybe. 

Let's face it: There have been quite a few moments over the past decade when we've all been told that Fox News had blown it. That Fox had finally angered their viewers for the last time. That Fox News was history. And, somehow, Fox News continues to dominate cable news. 

Now, to be clear, I'm not a Fox apologist. I've never been on the payroll of the network, and my nightly, prime-time news show on Salem News Channel is designed to attract Fox viewers. I'm just pointing out that every time I'm told that Fox News is dead, it feels like that "Dewey Defeats Truman" thing. 

First, it was the removal of Glenn Beck from his highly popular 5 PM slot. The move was met with the same, stunned reaction we see today in the aftermath of the inexplicable Tucker Carlson decision. Beck had turned the 5 PM hour into a hugely successful program that catapulted his fame and helped build the bold, vibrant opposition to the Obama Administration. 

When he and Fox parted ways, there were repeated calls for a boycott and laments of "I'll never watch again" from hard-core, stalwart Beck watchers. 

Beck was replaced by an experimental panel show made up of a handful of Fox contributors. Roger Ailes called the program "The Five," and, well, you know the rest of that story. 

A few years later, Bill O'Reilly was replaced after decades of prime-time dominance. Expert media watchers predicted that finally, CNN and MSNBC would have an opportunity to chip away at Fox's dominance after this obvious blunder. I mean, why would Fox remove their top guy while he was still garnering the highest ratings of any other prime-time host? 

What a mistake! The experts were all sure that this was the chance for Maddow and Anderson Cooper to finally exert their dominance. 

Uh-huh. O'Reilly was replaced by Tucker. You know the rest of that story. 

Then there was election night 2020. After the premature call for Biden in Arizona, a legion of Fox viewers declared they were done with the network, for good this time. They said they'd been betrayed and said they'd only watch Newsmax or OAN or one of the other streaming news options available to them. 

And, no doubt, many did leave Fox for good. But clearly not enough to make a difference to the executives who run the network. Not even close. 

Understand how Fox got here and why they thought they could remove their highest-rated host from prime-time only one year into his multi-year contract extension. 

First, the record I just laid out for you informed the executives in charge that they could shuffle popular hosts in and out without ever feeling any real, negative repercussions. I mean, they've done it before, and it never really hurt them. So it's understandable they could do it again. 

Also, more importantly, their competition basically hands them their nightly dominance on a silver platter. 

CNN and MSNBC are not a danger to Fox because these cable networks have made a conscious decision to completely ignore Fox's audience. I know we often say things like, "Fox beat CNN in the ratings again," but honestly, that's not entirely accurate. Fox only beats CNN if you assume they are competing for the same audience. They are not. 

CNN and MSNBC show open disdain for Fox's viewers. They mock them on a regular basis. They do not behave like they are trying to attract Fox's viewers at all. It's like they've handed Fox a monopoly on a silver platter. 

If CNN were smart, they'd higher some prime-time hosts (or a morning host, I understand there's an opening) who actually communicate to viewers who might be more Fox-inclined. If they really wanted to grow their audience, they wouldn't keep hiring hosts who exhibit open hostility to anyone to the political right of Larry Hogan. 

But they are not smart. Or, they've decided their priority is not to grow their audience... not if it means appealing to those people. 

And now the Tucker decision. Will this be the final straw? Will viewers actually hurt Fox's dominance by turning them off for good, for real?  

Actually, it's a very real possibility this time. 

Partly because the Tucker decision was so sudden and seemed so arbitrary and spiteful, his audience feels completely upended by this event. Also, Tucker's audience, I sense, is not exactly your typical Fox audience, at least not in the same way that O'Reilly's audience was. 

I've run into so many people in real life and on social media who claim that Tucker's was the only show they watched on Fox News. And they will gladly leave and follow Tucker wherever he ends up. 

Also, the Tucker firing seems fundamentally unfair. Fox viewers don't like it when "one of ours" gets treated like garbage. And that's what this feels like. 

And finally, the media landscape now is very different than it was just a couple of years ago. With the rise of digital, over-the-top delivery, news options have grown well beyond the offering on a typical cable or satellite box. With Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, or any other app-based streaming device, news consumers can access The Blaze, Daily Wire, Real America's Voice, and, yes, the mighty Salem News Channel and never turn a cable box on again. 

The information world is at the fingertips and demand of the news consumer, and that's a very good, liberating thing. 

Wherever Tucker wants to go to deliver his nightly program, the audience will find him. And they'll see that they don't need dinosaur cable anymore. 

And, by the way, Fox knows this. It's why they've spent so much time and capital building their own digital network, Fox Nation. The problem is Tucker's content on that platform was dominant and their top draw. Now what?

It's bizarre to think it, but the guy who just got fired from his multi-year, multi-million dollar job is in the catbird seat, and the corporation that fired him is the player in this scenario that really must fight to come out ahead. 

They may very well do just that; they certainly have in the past. But, this time... maybe not.

The New Baby-Killers

The New Baby-Killers

AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe

Extremists have got to learn to take half a loaf. Just like the cheap labor-demanding GOP donors, pro-lifers need to be told: You can't get everything you want. If Republicans give you this, they'll lose their jobs, and the people who'll replace them want you dead.

Unlike a lot of people complaining about the anti-abortion zealots, I am an anti-abortion zealot. That's why I'm begging them to stop pushing wildly unpopular ideas. These fanatics are going to get millions more babies killed when Democrats win supermajorities in both houses of Congress and immediately pass a federal law making abortion-on-demand the law of the land.

They're also going to get a lot more adults killed when those same Democratic supermajorities pass laws taking our guns, defunding the police and packing the court, among other great Democratic ideas.

We've been rolling our eyes at pro-choicers forever, telling them to calm down, that overturning Roe would just return the issue to the states. Blue states would make abortion legal until the kid turns 14. A few states, like Louisiana, would impose tough restrictions, but most states would come out in the middle -- allowing abortions in the first trimester, plus parental notification laws, and exceptions for rape and incest.

Instead, the moment Dobbs was released, pro-life nuts rushed to the mics, saying, This is gonna be great! We're going to ban abortion from the moment of conception and prosecute the mothers for murder!

The Democratic Party has been using abortion to scare suburban women in every election cycle for 50 years. Now, Republicans are finally giving them something to be scared about.

In Michigan, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, Tudor Dixon, said she opposed abortion for 14-year-old girls who'd been raped because giving birth to her rapist's baby could be "healing."

Does the name Todd Akin mean anything to you? Anything at all? Richard Mourdock?

Dixon lost by 11 points.

Pennsylvania responded, Watch this! Doug Mastriano, Republican candidate for governor, called abortion the "number one" issue of his campaign and said he looked forward to signing a six-week abortion ban. In 2019, he'd called for criminally prosecuting women who got abortions and doctors who performed them.

Mastriano lost by 15 points, taking the Republican Senate candidate down with him.

If we don't bind and gag these pro-life militants, in about two more election cycles, we'll have no Republicans in office anywhere. Good luck saving babies then!

Of course, it's possible that there were other things voters didn't like about Dixon and Mastriano.

Ah, but we also have pure test cases. Since Dobbs, there have been a total of six statewide ballot initiatives exclusively about abortion. The pro-life side lost every single time. They lost in blue states, in purple states and in red states. They were not outspent. These were direct-to-the-people votes. The tiniest restriction on abortion failed -- even wholly theoretical restrictions! Every expansion of abortion rights won.

Army of Todd Akins: I don't care! They're wrong! They're evil! What about the babies??? [Please give me a standing ovation now.]

In Montana, a proposal merely to require doctors to give life-saving treatment to babies born alive after a botched abortion lost 53% to 47%. Trump won Montana by 20 points in 2016 and 15 points in 2020.

In Kansas, pro-lifers wrote a ballot initiative that would have amended the constitution to clarify that it said nothing at all about abortion. The initiative placed no new restrictions on abortion, but simply moved the issue from the courts to the legislature.

It failed by 18 points, 59-41, losing in every congressional district in the state. Trump won Kansas by 20 points in 2016 and 15 points in 2020.

Kentucky voted on a similar initiative, proposing to amend the state constitution to say: "... nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion."

That initiative lost 52-48. In 2016, Trump won Kentucky by a whopping 30 points, and in 2020 by 25 points.

In three other states, Michigan, Vermont and California, voters put a right to abortion in their state constitutions.

Six ballot initiatives expressly on abortion, and the pro-life side lost 'em all.

We've been waiting half a century to get Roe overruled so Americans could finally vote on the issue. Well, guess what? They've voted! In the privacy of the voting booth, the people have spoken, and what they've said is: We don't want the stupid and incompetent having any more babies.

The fanatics cite three Republican governors who won reelection after signing six-week abortion bans as proof that a certain miracle governor in Florida hasn't just nuked his own presidential chances by approving such a law. All three governors signed their six-week bans when Roe was still the law of the land. All three bans were tied up in litigation on Election Day.

But more important, in the entire country, only one incumbent governor lost in 2022 -- pro-life, pro-choice, it didn't matter. Thirty-six governors up for reelection; 35 won.

The only flipped governorship was in Nevada, where the winning Republican, Joe Lombardo, said he opposed a national abortion ban. Luckily, abortion was a complete nonissue because state law already allows abortion up to 24 weeks and can only be changed by a vote of the people. (Lombardo also said there was no fraud in the 2020 election, for any Republicans who care about winning.)

But even in the face of a brutal 6-0 losing record, there are still pro-lifers who will say, I'm proud and I'd do it again! (Did you see my write-up in Catholic Insights magazine?)

This is our "DEFUND THE POLICE" faction -- people whose ideological zealotry outruns their rationality.

Fine, be a showoff. Just understand, you're going to get a lot more babies killed. I hope that's worth your moral preening.

Biden’s pre-written questions present a crisis of confidence

Biden’s pre-written questions present a crisis of confidence

So much for ‘speaking truth to power’

US President Joe Biden holds his notes while answering a question during a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House after a meeting with South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol April 26, 2023, in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

Joe Biden has held the fewest press conferences and interviews of any president since Ronald Reagan. And now we’ve learned that when he is allowed to take questions, they appear to be pre-selected, approved by White House staff and agreed to by reporters in the White House pool.

Yesterday, while appearing alongside South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol, Biden fielded a question from Courtney Subramanian of the Los Angeles Times. A photojournalist captured a notecard in Biden’s hand that showed an avatar of Subramanian, the words “Question 1” and a pre-written text of the question she asked the president.

So how does a question from a White House reporter make it to the president of the United States’ hands before she even asks it? One would think the White House itself, most likely the comms shop that works directly with them, has to be involved making preselection demands of reporters. Then reporters would have to be willing to go along with this, which violates all sorts of long-standing ethics about speaking “truth to power.” Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer tweeted, “No WH reporter would ever tell me what question they intended to ask POTUS. It would be unethical — not to mention soft — to do so.”

This should be a legitimate scandal for this White House, as they try to push an eighty-year-old president onto the country for a second term while it appears he cannot answer questions without a cue card. Subramanian should explain who at the White House she’s coordinating with, and her bosses at the LA Times should say something, too. Yet so far, no explanation has been offered. Subramanian herself is refusing to answer inquiries and the LA Times has simply gone silent on the matter. The White House isn’t accountable, either, because they are clearly in cahoots with the people who should be holding them accountable.

If reporters are openly coordinating with this White House to help shape a positive narrative for President Biden — something widely suspected but never as directly proven as it was yesterday — then this is cause for a legitimate crisis of confidence in an industry meant to hold powerful people responsible. During the Trump administration, the public was browbeaten over just such a scenario.

This incident goes beyond Subramanian or this White House and affects every reporter in the briefing room and their colleagues — who appear to retain very little professional respect for what their job is and why they are supposed to be sitting in that chair in the first place. It’s their silence, and their lack of accountability, that suggests this isn’t just a random one-off thing that happened to keep this president focused and preventing him from wandering off again only to be corraled by a staffer in an Easter Bunny costume.

Reporters, starting with Courtney Subramanian and the LA Times, can either answer for this or sit and watch as distrust in their industry rises to new levels every week. As they portray themselves as heroic truth-tellers, their actions have proven them to be nothing but narrative-pushers for an unpopular president who seems to need his hand held at every step: both by his own staff and the shameless journalists going alone with the charade.

Judge Hands Major Victory to City of Chicago Employees Who Refused the COVID Vaccine


AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

The city of Chicago has been ordered to reinstate employees who were fired or faced disciplinary action for not complying with Mayor Lori Lightfoot's COVID-19 vaccine mandate and repay lost wages with interest, a state administrative law judge ruled. 

The decision came after more than 20 unions representing city employees filed an unfair labor practices charge following the 2021 vaccine mandate. The case was brought before the Illinois Labor Relations Board. 

In a 78-page decision in combined cases brought by the Coalition of Unionized Public Employees and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, Administrative Law Judge Anna Hamburg-Gal found that although the city had the right to implement a vaccine requirement for its employees, it was obligated to negotiate with the union over the effects of that policy.

The effects of the policy the city imposed included placing employees who didn’t report their vaccination status or refused to be vaccinated without a proper exemption on “no-pay status” and later terminating their employment, both of which should have been negotiated with the unions until reaching an agreement or an impasse, the administrative judge found.

Docking pay “is not an inevitable consequence of the vaccine mandate or reporting requirement because no-pay status is not the sole means by which the (city) could have enforced its policy,” Hamburg-Gal wrote.

Likewise, the city unilaterally changed the status quo in August of last year when it began terminating employees who hadn’t complied with the policy, electing “to pursue a far harsher approach than it had taken before against violators of its vaccination policy.”

“Although the policy on its face states that any violations of the policy could result in discipline up to and including termination, the (city) established a past practice of treating violations more leniently,” the judge wrote.

The judge ordered the city to reinstate the affected employees, with their personnel records expunged, and to compensate workers for any lost pay or benefits that resulted, with 7% interest. The unions should be allowed to negotiate to keep any parts of the policy they like, the judge said. (Chicago Tribune)

“The ruling affirms that when an employer contemplates significant changes to terms of employment, it has a duty to bargain in good faith with the union,” AFSCME Council 31spokesman Anders Lindall said in a statement. “In this case, the city did not do that.”

While the case is is separate from the one brought by the city’s largest police union, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, union president John Catanzara praised the ruling.

"The hope is that the Labor Board a citywide policy going forward," Catanzara said in a video message.

A spokesperson for Lightfoot called the decision "erroneous" and said the mayor's office is "evaluating next steps."

“[The] ruling was an erroneous decision that does not follow the law, facts nor importantly the science," Lightfoot spokesman Cesar Rodriguez said in a statement.

The city has 30 days to file an appeal with the Labor Board, which means the deadline comes days after Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson will have been sworn in. 

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky cheered on the ruling. 

"Gotta love it when petty tyrants are given comeuppance," he said on Twitter.

Leftist Invaders Will Soon Be In Your Corner Of Red America — If They Haven’t Colonized It Already

Leftist Invaders Will Soon Be In Your Corner Of Red America — If They Haven’t Colonized It Already

Flyover country now seems to be a special project for left-wing power elites who would like to spread their agendas and homogenize every small corner of the nation.

War on normal Americans seems to have found its final frontier in the conservative small towns and rural communities often called red strongholds on the political map. Infiltration of red America by woke activists and their agendas is nearing, or has passed, the inflection point.

Thus, migrants who flee from blue to red communities tend to be of two types: refugees or invaders. Refugees tend to assimilate. They respect the traditions of their newfound localities. Invaders, on the other hand, seem intent on turning red communities into replicas of the high tax and crime-ridden places they left.

Blue states have been hemorrhaging so many residents that they’ve lost congressional seats — they have been reapportioned to increasingly populous red states. More specifically, 2020 census data shows a “vast migration” out of counties that voted for Joe Biden and into counties that voted to re-elect President Donald Trump.

Migrations began well before Covid but accelerated during the lockdowns. In those earlier days, many folks, including yours truly, sought refuge from meddlesome bureaucrats by relocating to states with deeper red tones. Yet all the large cities and suburbs in red states tend to lean left with just as intrusive policies and election results to match. That’s why refugees like me tend to gravitate to rural areas and small towns that allow folks to live and let live.

But not so fast! Many who leave blue areas continue voting for the failed politics of Democrats when they move into conservative communities. Flyover country now seems to be a special project for left-wing power elites who would like to spread their agendas and homogenize every small corner of the nation.

Red states start going purple one county council, one school board takeover at a time. That’s due in part to the lure of federal funds, which are actually bribes that come with woke chains attached. At the same time, rural boards of supervisors increasingly vote for off-the-wall resolutions, such as urging ratification of the long-expired Equal Rights Amendment.

2016 Election Fast-Tracked the Hostile Takeover

Until the 2016 election of Trump, the leftist targeting of rural America happened mostly in fits and starts. It tended to be a losing battle against people wedded to their traditions. But the left saw the 2016 election as an urgent wake-up call to take over rural America one way or another.

The invasions began in a passive-aggressive manner. Well-heeled leftists have increasingly relocated or bought second homes in rural areas, particularly in places with beautiful pastoral and mountain views. OK, so far. And no one objects to the nice little cafes and wine shops they seem to have transferred from their more urban settings. At the same time, the transplants enjoy planting rainbow flags on Main Street, USA.

They’ve been dubbed “leftugees” because they can’t shake their politics even though they fled from the consequences of them. They tend to welcome greater federal control and influence wherever they go, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s “investment in rural America,” which means plying the countryside with faster internet service. That might sound like a welcome convenience. But given the recent history of Big Tech censorship and ideological bias, we might be skeptical of intentions.

Long-time rural residents’ voter apathy complicates this picture even further. They’ve been largely clueless about how easily their school board and county supervisor seats can be picked off due to low voter turnout in local elections. Even old timers who hold those seats can turn into squishes easily worked over by pressures from invading newcomers to vote their way.

In some towns, you may need only a couple hundred votes to be elected mayor (sometimes far less.) Many mayoral elections go uncontested. So a little bit of Alinskyite “community organizing” is all it may take to run the show in rural America.

Susceptible to Psychological Manipulation

Every person has a hard-wired need to be socially connected. We also have a primal fear of ostracism. Americans in small communities were traditionally more individualistic in part because of the strong connections they had with their families, faith traditions, and communities. People are less susceptible to being emotionally manipulated when they have strong bonds to fall back on. 

But as Charles Murray pointed out in his 2012 book “Coming Apart,” when those bonds and traditions erode, a vacuum develops that’s filled with addictions and dependency. Rural Americans, then, are as susceptible to political correctness as anyone else. I call this process the weaponization of loneliness.

Two recent essays drive my point home about an invader-versus-refugee dynamic in red America. In 2021, Mark Pulliam wrote a piece at The Federalist titled “Leftists are Colonizing Red Towns Like Mine, and Local Republicans are Clueless.”

After relocating from Austin, Texas to a small, overwhelmingly Republican Appalachian town in Tennessee, Pulliam found woke agendas everywhere: in the local library, the local schools, the local newspaper. More recently, Pulliam has written about his battle with the local public library in Blount County, which is being used as a homeless shelter and is increasingly unusable as a public library.

Such things don’t happen organically. They are planned and organized, especially if there’s a vacuum of civic engagement among the locals. Pulliam concludes that unless rural voters wake up and push back, their towns will become knockoffs of dysfunctional places like Portland, Oregon. And he’s right.

Another essay, “Hicklibs on Parade,” written by the inimitable Peachy Keenan over at The American Mind, exposes and analyzes the queering of red states and smaller towns where “drag queen brunches” have proliferated. How so? Because of the “woke yokels” who have “traded in their grandmother’s classic Christian clunker ideology — that one that still runs great but gets terrible mileage on social media — and exchanged it for a shiny new vehicle for glowing social affirmation.”

Indeed, the natural human craving for “social affirmation” is a vulnerability that can be manipulated to drive otherwise destructive agendas forward. When people sense they will be ostracized for expressing a politically incorrect belief, they tend to comply with groupthink.

Keenan notes how such psychological manipulation flows downstream into red America’s “ruralite gen pop who don’t have the brain power or social conditioning to manage it. It’s like grain alcohol getting into the hands of the natives.”

So, the picture should be clear. Some people move into rural and red America because they share the values of the locals. They are refugees who respect the local traditions — or what is left of them.

But others move into red places with no such intentions. Some even work actively to colonize and wipe out every vestige of the American spirit and traditional American values. If they keep spreading their dystopias, there will be no place left to breathe freely in America.

Refugees who flee blue states must wake up to potential invaders of their adopted homelands. They should help good people win local offices. They need to reach out to their like-minded neighbors, and then proactively work together to build healthy local communities of goodwill. That’s the only way to preserve the values and traditions that allow us all to live and let live.