In his column in today's New York Times, Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman says that Fox News "no longer feels the need to make any effort to keep up appearances" that the network is "fair and balanced."
Krugman discusses Fox's employment of "every major contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination who isn't currently holding office and isn't named Mitt Romney"; the network's $1 million donations to the Republican Governors Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; how the network is "anointing" conservative Republican candidates like Christine O'Donnell; how "the Tea Party movement owes much of its rise to enthusiastic Fox coverage"; and the consequences of conservative criticism of Fox.
From Krugman's column:
As Politico recently pointed out, every major contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination who isn't currently holding office and isn't named Mitt Romney is now a paid contributor to Fox News. Now, media moguls have often promoted the careers and campaigns of politicians they believe will serve their interests. But directly cutting checks to political favorites takes it to a whole new level of blatancy.
Nobody who was paying attention has ever doubted that Fox is, in reality, a part of the Republican political machine; but the network -- with its Orwellian slogan, "fair and balanced" -- has always denied the obvious. Officially, it still does. But by hiring those G.O.P. candidates, while at the same time making million-dollar contributions to the Republican Governors Association and the rabidly anti-Obama United States Chamber of Commerce, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which owns Fox, is signaling that it no longer feels the need to make any effort to keep up appearances.
Something else has changed, too: increasingly, Fox News has gone from merely supporting Republican candidates to anointing them. Christine O'Donnell, the upset winner of the G.O.P. Senate primary in Delaware, is often described as the Tea Party candidate, but given the publicity the network gave her, she could equally well be described as the Fox News candidate. Anyway, there's not much difference: the Tea Party movement owes much of its rise to enthusiastic Fox coverage.
As the Republican political analyst David Frum put it, "Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we are discovering we work for Fox" -- literally, in the case of all those non-Mitt-Romney presidential hopefuls. It was days later, by the way, that Mr. Frum was fired by the American Enterprise Institute. Conservatives criticize Fox at their peril.