Stelter is just trying to “make Fox better”. . . and more like CNN.
In reality, an attempt is being made to pressurize Cable Trays to drop Fox. This includes New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who insisted that “cable operators should be asked why they have channels that tell lies”. Washington Post columnist and CNN analyst Max Boot also wrote that cable companies should “step in and start Fox News.” He added that it might be necessary to block Newsmax and One America News Network as well.
The campaign is not surprising to those in free speech. I have long spoken out against the demand for censorship on the pretext of creating an “honest Internet”. We discussed how writers, editors, commentators, and scholars have responded to increasing calls for censorship and language control, including President-elect Joe Biden and his key advisors. The erosion of free speech has been radically accelerated by the big tech and social media companies. The level of censorship and visual regulation has raised questions about a new type of state media in which corporations with political allies drive an ideological agenda.
It’s a familiar pattern. It is not enough to control the language on many platforms when there is an alternative source of information. In addition to regulating viewpoints, if you want to control language, you also need to eliminate alternative sources of viewpoints. For example, when Twitter blocked the story of Hunter Biden prior to the election, it was only partially successful as viewers could turn to the New York Post or Fox for the story.
Ironically, Stelter may be correct that shutting down the range of opposing viewpoints would lessen the damage to free speech for many like Stelter. Stelter has been repeatedly criticized for ignoring stories that were harmful to the Biden campaign or CNN itself. Such an echo chamber cover works as long as nobody leaves the echo chamber. For many on CNN and MSNBC, there is little danger. Viewers tune into some networks to make sure they are not being challenged outside of their political comfort zone. The Washington Post and other outlets have not corrected any clearly incorrect reports, and it is not even clear that readers would want to see such corrections. It’s the sad reality of the goofy news in our new age of yellow journalism. While confidence in the news is lower than ever, echo journalism maintains a loyal viewer or reader base. Experts assure them that Trump can easily be convicted or charged. Constitutional scholars insist that longstanding questions are indeed absolutely clear and straightforward. However, this system works best when there are no alternatives available for messaging.
There was one day when a journalist was widely sentenced for trying to restrict access to other media. I would be the first object against such a campaign against CNN or MSNBC. Stelter’s comments are welcomed, however, as many media outlets have eagerly looked away at the limb they are sitting on.