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Mar 27

Written by: Diana West
Friday, March 27, 2015 5:11 AM 

Part 1 is here.

Picking up with Mickey Kaus quitting The Daily Caller after Tucker Carlson took Kaus's column critiquing Fox off TheDC website because, Kaus says, Carlson told him TheDC can't trash Fox because he (Carlson) works there...

"He [Daily Caller editor Tucker Carlson] said it was a rule, and he wouldn't be able to change that rule. So I told him I quit," Kaus explained.

Reached via email, Carlson told On Media: "Mickey is a great guy, and one of the few truly independent thinkers anywhere. I'm sorry to see him go."

NB: Fox does not own the Daily Caller. Carlson is a host of a Fox weekend show. 

Kaus will now publish his columns exclusively on Kausfiles, a blog that was previously featured on Slate. But he said that Fox News' influence over The Daily Caller was indicative of a larger problem in conservative media.

"It's a larger problem on the right: Everybody is scared of Fox," he said. "Fox is their route to a high-profile public image and in some cases stardom. Just to be on a Fox show is a big deal. And I think that's a problem on the right, Fox's monopoly on star-making power."

Two points to focus on: First, the stated "rule" against criticizing Fox at The Daily Caller, which, I strongly agree, is a larger problem in "conservative media" generally; second -- much more important -- the impact such a rule has on the news that viewers/readers of Fox and other right-of-center outlets receive.

After Kaus appeared on CNN to talk about both these points, Betsy Rothstein, a Daily Caller writer, tweeted  that "reporters know about the policy at TheDC." This was less a declaration in support for Kaus than a statement of fact. Rothstein's subsequent tweets make clear that she accepts the policy. 

After Matt Lewis, a Daily Caller colleague of Rothstein's, tweeted "nobody told me" about the hands-off-Fox policy, Rothstein tweeted: 

Love the Rashomon effect.

And later:

In this case, of course, it is Carlson's employer (Fox) whom Carlson's employees also must not soil, which is something else again -- seemingly another iteration of the Fox Effect. The rule, of course, is Carlson's prerogative, but it is a very good thing for readers that the newsroom "common knowledge" about the hands-off-Fox rule is now public knowledge.   

What about the notion that "you don't [criticize] your employer (or your boss's employer) when the "employer" is a giant news organization? Kaus has dismissed this idea implicitly, pointing out, "it's not like we're owned by Joe's Muffler Shop, so we can't write about Joe's Muffler Shop." 

I take from this that there is a distinction to be made between the muffler shop and the news organization -- and, in Fox's special case, the news organization that is also peculiarly dominant on the right side of the political spectrum in America. By virtue of its role in selecting and dispensing news stories, Fox, like other news organizations, is a player in making the news and, as such, subject to study and critique. "Media bias," after all, is a genre of journalism. It should not be pursued solely as a means of criticizing the Left. Conservative media are, or should be, fair game for journalists just as liberal media are  (to me, they are more interesting subjects).

What the Kaus story suggests, though, is that right-of-center practitioners of the trade may not only be holding back Fox critiques; they may also be following a narrative increasingly set by what we might call the Fox Establishment. More enticingly to such conservative scribes, it is a narrative that just might turn out to be a ticket into the "company town" of Fox.    

This takes us to point 2.

To be cont'd

 

 

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