I must confess I have mixed feelings over certain transitions that take place now and again in the bizarro world of conservatives. In these very pages of Palmer Report, I once or twice observed that it was, on balance, to our advantage that Trump remain on Twitter and to our disadvantage that he get booted off. Trump committed crimes on Twitter, you see, such as jury tampering, witness intimidation, obstruction of justice and the like. As long as he was committing crimes anyway I wanted those crimes to be well documented in real time. The more the merrier, said I. All the better to prosecute him with.
It is with a similar mixed reluctance I note the departure from Fox News of two staunch and righteous (albeit conservative) gentlemen known as Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes. Both men are fact-based, old-fashioned, non-radical fiscal conservatives who rejected Trump and his desperately inadequate ego. Both unabashedly think that the Big Lie is just that. They also think that Tucker Carlson’s “Patriot Purge” propaganda film is dangerous. So much so that they decided to quit the network because of it.
While I applaud their reasons I am also reminded that every time ones such as they leave the network somebody like Tucker or Sean or Laura shows up to take their place. What, you might reasonably ask, do I care what goes on at Fox News? Emotionally, I don’t. But practically I view their departures as a continuation of the putrefaction of the conservative news and views. In other words, very soon there will be no one left but the Fox to guard the henhouse, as it were — and if you’ll pardon the expression.
The departure from the Fox anchor desk of Shep Smith is a case in point. Not only did he report the news accurately much of the time, he was also on hand as a potential resource that could report the truth of what really goes on inside the network. Lies and hypocrisy are a Fox mainstay, and without someone who still sees reality clearly on the inside and is able to expose the origins of those lies and those hypocrisies, accountability can sometimes morph into plausible deniability.
Of course Fox News still has Chris Wallace and Neil Cavuto, two news readers who are not without moments of actual clarity. But there is absolutely no reason for this to continue. An institution like Fox is more than capable of getting rid of them and replacing them with Trump Zombies. One day they very possibly will be replaced. The trend in conservative circles these days is to get worse, not better, with no end in sight.
In their mutual letter of resignation Goldberg and Hayes observed that the proverbial camel backbreaker was Tucker Carlson’s deliberately ignorant and hateful film. “If a person with such a platform shares such misinformation loud enough and long enough,” they wrote in a nod to the tradition of Josef Goebbels, “there are Americans who will believe — and act upon — it.” And if the few sane people who still remain at Fox News should suddenly leave, there will be no one left to speak up for — let alone keep an eye out for — sanity. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.