Mark Ellis
Notes from inside the bubble
By Mark Ellis
March 27, 2013

Too late for one more post-election analysis? Bear with me; I was so shocked and appalled by Mitt Romney's defeat that, but for this, I was rendered speechless. It has taken this long for me to process the election from the standpoint of my primary news source.

One of the potentially interesting things I anticipated doing after the election was to see how conservative mother ship Fox News would absorb, process, and interpret the loss.

First a little ancient history. In the days after President Obama's clear victory, there was no denying the down-tick. Watching the Fox early-and primetime line-up became tantamount to attending a nationally televised grief support group.

Karl Rove disappeared for a while, and everybody said it was about his Ohio tantrum. I didn't think what he did was that bad. Yes, he's supposed to be a professional, but can you really blame him just this once for showing his partisan humanity in all its flop sweat and angst?

Megyn Kelly's Rove-inspired descent to the innermost cave of the vote counters provided an odd, compelling sidebar, like a Popsicle stand at a hanging.

Dick Morris disappeared into deep space, and he's still gone. I feel bad for him, but it was a necessary banishment, which showed that there are consequences for making really bad calls. I could be wrong, but I expect Morris to dock again with the USS Fair and Balanced around the time of the midterm run-up.

After the post-mortems were shelved it came down to asking "what now?" in terms of Fox News coverage and analysis.

For a working class conservative like me, watching Neil Cavuto's Your World is definitely a spectator sport. Trickle-down economics has been my stock and trade since Reagan, but the spigot has become intermittent. Bottom line: when Cavuto is worried, I'm worried, and Cavuto seems worried.

On The Five, topical banter, gallows humor and pluck commingle to carry the (West Coast) afternoons. I could go down the list with kudos (Greg Gutfeld displays a Nugent-style stranglehold on un-ironic truths) but they know who they are, and so do a growing number of open-minded, higher information viewers.

What strikes me about Special Report is Bret Baier's consistent, unfazed delivery of the news, most of it bad, while the panels hang tough, as if the carpet has not been yanked, hauled to a dumpster, and changed out beneath their feet.

Charles Krauthammer has shown real growth in his ability to provide segment-ending bump humor, proving himself at once mischievous and revealingly apt.

The word on Shepard Smith is that he leans more left than right. If that's true, there is no discerning it from his performance, which remains energetic and stringently objective.

It was Bill O'Reilly who first used the phrase "forces have been scattered" to describe Republicans after the electoral rout. Indeed. Conservatives who complain that Papa Bear is not conservative enough – and I hear from them all the time – are missing something.

By his measured, common-sense equanimity, O'Reilly keeps himself right in the middle of the playing fields of all the important games – no matter what happens. Hard-rightists don't seem to get the cultural value and draw-power of a wildly popular center-right Independent.

When considering the aftermath, it was Sean Hannity's post-defeat star that I most looked to reckon by for direction. I became a Hannity fan when George W was riding high, and for the longest time old Sean handled the loony left like a cattleman handles nuisance coyotes.

Credibly, he never once bought into the Obama mystique (except for the part about the milestone of our first African-American president, which most of us lauded), and begged pre-2008 for a more thorough vetting of the campaigning senator.

Post doomsday, suffice it to say that Hannity is doing what made him famous, that which conservatives admire and rely on. He's still battling, every night. If there is a culminating moment when the Democrat ship sinks, Hannity's relentlessness will have played a commendable role.

I guess the scuttlebutt on Greta Van Susteren is that she's a Democrat. I've tried never to hold that against her, and she has made it easy with solid reportage, a productive interview style, and appropriate outrage at government waste, i.e. the GSA Vegas and IRS Star Trek scandals.

Susteren's live On the Record broadcast is in a tough time slot for me, up against Bonanza on Encore Westerns, but I usually dip into the rebroadcast, in case she's got Newt, Buchanan, or Rudy. I'll even watch the crime stuff sometimes, which seems like light fare after the 2012 bloodbath.

Switching to the weekend, Fox News Sunday is where I go looking for answers to what I perceive to be a pretty sad state of affairs. So far, those answers have been elusive, inconclusive, and often depressing. On many Sundays the show becomes an extended metaphor analogous to holding the Last Supper after the crucifixion.

© Mark Ellis


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