On the occasion of its 13th anniversary and dramatic success in the television ratings, Fox News is coming under serious scrutiny. But there is no reason why this scrutiny should come exclusively from those on the left who are jealous of the cable channel's success. Conservatives should not hesitate to offer their own critique of the popular news network.
Since Fox News has come to symbolize in the public mind the conservative viewpoint, conservatives should examine which personalities and issues are being presented regularly on the cable channel. Inevitably, such an analysis will focus on former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who seems to appear every few days on "The O'Reilly Factor," "Hannity," or "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren."
However, Gingrich's position as a Fox News regular may be in jeopardy because of his abandonment of the conservative candidate, Doug Hoffman, in a special election race in New York. One of the White House criticisms of Fox News is that it is an arm of the Republican Party. The regular use of Gingrich, a knee-jerk Republican who defers to party bosses, tends to support that thesis.
Since many people tune into Fox News to ascertain the conservative point of view, the regular use of Gingrich will become disconcerting and problematic to many members of its viewing audience. In a major break with some of his on-air colleagues, independent conservative and Fox News host Glenn Beck openly has questioned Gingrich's embrace of the official Republican candidate, liberal Dede Scozzafava, in the race. Beck noted her ties to ACORN and interviewed her conservative opponent, Hoffman. The interview ran under the headline, "Principles or Party?" and is now featured on Hoffman's website.
While he supports the official Republican nominee in the New York race, out of deference to party leaders, Gingrich irritates conservatives and Republicans alike by giving credence to causes embraced by far-left liberals in the Democratic Party. He filmed a climate change ad with radical House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and currently conducts joint appearances with racial agitator Al Sharpton, a figure in the Democratic Party, on educational matters. The Gingrich-Sharpton tour was actually announced by the Obama White House and is being sponsored by the federal Department of Education.
The latter has prompted Peter Flaherty, president of the National Legal and Policy Center, to call upon Gingrich to end his relationship with Sharpton. A study issued by the NLPC notes that "Sharpton has promoted fake hate crimes against blacks, and has inspired racial antagonism against whites and Jews. Indeed, this long-established pattern of behavior continues to the present."
A video from a leading conservative news site, Newsmax.com, shows Flaherty denouncing Gingrich for associating with the activist. "Newt has made a bad decision and we believe he should end his relationship with Sharpton," Flaherty said.
Even before he decided to back a liberal Republican over a conservative in the Congressional special election race in New York's 23rd district, Gingrich had been under fire for abandoning the conservative cause. He co-authored an Al Gore-style book on environmental issues, A Contract With the Earth, before he decided that this approach was unpopular and that we had to exploit more of our own natural resources and "Drill baby drill." Suddenly, Gingrich's calls for "Green conservatism" were dropped.
Back in 2007, when Alan Colmes was a co-host on the Hannity show, Colmes told Gingrich that he appreciated the fact that there was an endorsement of A Contract With the Earth from liberal Democratic Senator John Kerry. "You should have gone to Gore, though," Colmes said. "I bet he would have endorsed it, too. Is this on recycled paper, by the way? I just want to be sure." Gingrich said he didn't know but "That's a very good question."
Colmes has since been dropped by Fox News as a program host, but Gingrich still appears with regularity. One of his latest projects, "Rediscovering God in America," which examines the monuments, memorials and documents found in Washington, D.C., that reference God's role in America's founding, is extremely worthwhile but basically duplicates what people like David Barton of WallBuilders have been doing for many years. Once known as a politician with personal problems, Gingrich has reportedly rediscovered his own religious faith, under the guidance of his third wife.
But as we have seen with environmentalism, Gingrich's positions on political matters are subject to change, depending on what seems popular at the time. On the matter of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, Gingrich was against it until he issued a statement in favor of it. Then, in an article for Human Events, he called it "bad" and stated that Republican presidential candidate John McCain could only win by distancing himself from it. This performance led us to conclude that the Republican Party and its leaders in Congress were morally bankrupt, to go along with the financial bankruptcy of the nation itself.
Earlier this year Gingrich was calling for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be replaced because of her unsubstantiated allegations against the CIA about lying over the use of interrogation techniques against terrorists. But before that, Gingrich thought so much of Pelosi that he taped an advertisement with her for the Alliance for Climate Protection, a group founded by Al Gore.
However, it's Gingrich's intervention in the New York special election race on November 3 that really has conservatives up in arms. Mark Mix of the National Right to Work Committee is the latest to sound the alarm. He accuses Gingrich of undercutting efforts to stop Big Labor's "Employee Free Choice Act" or card check bill in Congress. The measure would make it easier for left-wing labor unions to get members and pick their pockets to support left-wing Democratic Party candidates
Referring to official Republican candidate, Scozzafava, Mix says that Gingrich "is backing an outspoken supporter of forced unionism and the union bosses…" In unusually harsh language, Mix goes on to say that "Just like the final few years when he was Speaker of the House of Representatives, for Newt, it appears it is just about power and party over principle."
The issue of "party over principle" was raised by Glenn Beck during his interview of Hoffman. The outcome of this race could determine not only the future of the conservative movement but whether Gingrich has the credibility to continue as a "conservative" spokesman on Fox News.