Some of you readers almost surely hate Fox News. But you know something? It isn’t really so bad. It counterbalances the anti-Trump, leftist, overreaching, sometimes hysterical bias afflicting too much of what too many of its TV competitors offer. And, even without Charles Krauthammer, much of it is pretty darned intelligent and insightful.
Minus Fox, conservative commentary on TV wouldn’t be gone entirely, but it would be vastly diminished, thereby delighting people like Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama. The former president could hardly stand it that Fox didn’t think he was just about always right.
Krauthammer didn’t for sure. I bring up his name because he was widely recognized in varied political camps as an extraordinary newspaper and Fox News commentator. He was one of the best news analysts in the country, someone meticulously well-informed and thoughtful, a man whose mansion of a mind I myself have missed so much since his illness and recent death. Few could do what he could do.
When the critics ponder Fox News, however, they have mostly liked to gaze at a different sort of regular, such as Sean Hannity. While he has his virtues, he was practically a Trump campaign manager during the elections and serves as something of an extra press secretary in the here and now. Unlike a wisely detached Krauthammer, a conservative who did not hesitate to go after Trump when as much was called for, Hannity is buddy-buddy with the Oval Office and no better at enlightened perspectives than his Trump-despising opposites on other cable channels.
But then there’s Alan Dershowitz, an omnipresent Fox guest, a deservedly famous retired Harvard law professor, a self-identified liberal who is principled enough to make many of his fellow liberals suddenly condemn him. He sees the whole special counsel investigation as pretty much a fraud that is flying circles around the law and degrading the Constitution. Proceed with an impeachment movement, this civil libertarian says, and you may endanger the republic.
Another champ of intellect as well as a first-rate impartial newsman is Chris Wallace, host of “Fox News Sunday” and someone whose questions neither shout nor antagonize but seek and get incisive give-and-take from lively panels. Wallace does still more on Fox, but wait, I now want to point to another show of heft, one of the best hours of calm, cool, instructive discussion you’ll get on TV.
It’s the “Journal Editorial Report” hosted by Paul Gigot, editor of surely one of the best editorial pages in America, that of the Wall Street Journal. He is a Pulitzer Prize winner, surrounds himself with other Journal whizzes and calls as well on outsiders whose expertise pops balloons of bombast both left and right.
You also might want to catch Mark Levin, a solid believer in what America stands for, an advisor to Cabinet members in the Reagan administration, a radio host with other megaphones, an author of fine books and someone who interviews other smart people on Fox. Listen, watch and learn.
I can’t delve into everyone, such as the satirical wits on “The Five” or such well-known names as Dana Perino, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, for instance, although I will say this: Carlson is charming and great at correcting politically correct goofiness, although his populism is not my thing. I also respect Juan Williams as a regular representing the progressive point of view, which I think he does pretty well even if it’s hard not to get decked occasionally with so many swinging back.
While I’ve mostly been commenting on commentary, the straight news is by and large reasonably good for TV. The deal, the big deal, is that truth is not so easy to get at, that no ideology has forever escaped fallacy and that just as our democracy needs liberal and conservative politicians to fight off the worst of each other, we need TV commentators who do the same.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service.