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Paul Hayden

Conservative Media on the Defensive

January 14, 2008

If the liberal media have lost much of their influence, are the conservative media beginning to lose theirs? Talk-show host Rush Limbaugh is on the defensive for attacking Mike Huckabee, the big winner in the Republican Iowa Caucuses, and Fox News is under fire for excluding Ron Paul and Duncan Hunter from its scheduled Sunday night debate.

Limbaugh has a lot of egg on his face for trying to tell Republicans in Iowa that Huckabee was no Ronald Reagan and didn't deserve their votes. Limbaugh, who himself never voted for Ronald Reagan, told a caller, "...how dare you compare Mike Huckabee to Ronald Reagan.  That is simply intellectually vapid, and it's grasping at straws." 

Limbaugh said about Huckabee, "He's just not a conservative. And this is what, to be quite honest with you, offends me greatly with this attempt to compare him to Ronald Reagan." 

But Iowa Republicans either didn't hear Limbaugh's message or didn't take him seriously. The entrance polls showed that, of the Republican Iowa voters describing themselves as "very conservative," most of them¯35 percent¯went for Huckabee. The next largest category of "very conservative" voters, 23 percent, went for Mitt Romney. Of the self-described "somewhat conservative" Iowa voters, most¯34 percent¯went for Huckabee, and 27 percent went for Romney.

In foreign policy, as AIM has documented, Huckabee has sounded like Reagan in blasting the U.N.'s Law of the Sea Treaty and calling for the impeachment of federal judges using foreign law to make rulings from the bench. But he didn't sound like Reagan when he flip-flopped on the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. He went from supporting it to saying that it ought to be closed down. Huckabee has adopted the John McCain position against using harsh interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, or simulated drowning, against terrorists.

With Limbaugh under fire, Fox News, the so-called conservative cable news channel, is being heavily criticized for deciding to keep Ron Paul and Duncan Hunter out of its Sunday night debate. Activists have contacted AIM, with one saying, "When supposed news media attempt to guide the public's decision on who to vote for in upcoming primaries by eliminating valid candidates, we, the public, are no longer experiencing a free election. By eliminating the messages of some candidates, while giving deference to other candidates, it is simply the equivalent of stifling freedom of speech. To me, it seems to qualify as an attempt to influence an election."

Conservative leader Richard Viguerie has released a statement declaring that while he hasn't announced his support of any candidate, the U.S. political process and the nation will be damaged if reasonable viewpoints are silenced and excluded from such a forum.

Fox News has announced that its January 6 debate will be 90 minutes in length and presented live on Fox News Channel and Fox News Radio beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET, live from the campus of St. Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire. Chris Wallace will moderate the forum.

Fox said that candidates "confirmed to participate" would include Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Governor Mike Huckabee, Senator John McCain, Governor Mitt Romney and Senator Fred Thompson.

In a statement, Ron Paul 2008 campaign chairman Kent Snyder said, "Given Ron Paul's support in New Hampshire and his recent historic fundraising success, it is outrageous that Dr. Paul would be excluded. Dr. Paul has consistently polled higher in New Hampshire than some of the other candidates who have been invited."

Viguerie quotes Fox News chairman Roger Ailes as saying, in regard to how bias is exercised by the liberal media, "Bias has to do with the elimination of points of view, not presenting a point of view." Viguerie responds, "Well said, Roger. However, that's exactly what you are doing now." 

Ailes' complete quotation, reported in a 2003 interview about the impact of Fox News, was that "We've proved that we get larger audiences to cable news than anybody in American history, for one thing. We cover a broader spectrum than most people. We say it's fair and balanced. The American people don't actually believe we present more points of view. Everybody knows that Ralph Nader got more airtime here than any place else when he ran for president. And we present broad views. We don't eliminate it. Bias has to do with the elimination of points of view, not presenting a point of view. So we don't. That's somewhat stunning to some of the people in the business. We treat all points of view with respect."

In commenting on the orchestrated and limited Fox News debate, Viguerie asks Fox News, "Have you joined the enemy?"

The news does not look good. Indeed, in our latest newsletter, AIM is reporting that Fox News is falling into the hands of a liberal activist. James Murdoch, who stands to inherit control of the company when his father Rupert Murdoch dies or steps down, is a personal friend of Al Gore and Bill Clinton and has led the effort to transform News Corporation, the parent of Fox News, into a "green" company committed to the U.N. agenda on climate change. That agenda includes higher taxes, energy rationing, and more government control of the economy.

Protests should be directed at the Fox News Channel by calling 1-888-369-4762, extension 4, or (212) 301-3000, or emailing at yourcomments@foxnews.com. The Fox News Washington, D.C. telephone number is 202-824-6300.

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Copyright ©2008 Cliff Kincaid

Cliff Kincaid is president of America’s Survival, Inc. - www.usasurvival.org
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