NR’s latest cover story should be required reading for Democratic strategists who want to avoid a shellacking this year.
Ruy Teixeira, co-author of 2002’s The Emerging Democratic Majority, today warns his own party that it is out of step with voters and in “deep trouble” if it can’t course-correct. He pinpoints three areas where the Democratic brand suffers most: culture, economics, and patriotism. He also has coined a term that explains a lot. It’s called, in his words, the “Fox News fallacy.”
The Trump years further deepened the influence of identity politics on the Democratic Party, particularly in the wake of the nationwide protest movement following the murder of George Floyd. That left its stamp on the 2020 edition of the Democratic Party, notwithstanding their old-school standard-bearer, Joe Biden.
It has also left its stamp on how Democrats have handled difficult cultural issues since the election. They have fallen prey to what I have termed the “Fox News fallacy” — the idea that, if Fox News and the like are criticizing the Democrats on an issue, the criticism must be unsound and the disputed policy should be defended at all costs. That reflex has not served the Democrats well as Biden’s term has evolved.
Spot on. I used to work at that company. Do Fox News programming and articles aggressively highlight Democratic liabilities and play up issues that constitute political problems for them? Why yes, yes they do. That’s the model, essentially the inverse of what CNN did through the Trump era.
But Democrats fell into the pattern that Teixeira describes, using the Fox News gaze as reason alone to discount the problems being spotlighted — never mind that Fox has a robust news division, verifying and reporting out the stories that later serve fodder to prime-time.
Teixeira ticks off several examples of the fallacy in action, including with critical race theory, saying, “Democrats refuse to admit that there might be a problem here.” Fox News aireth, ergo it’s not really happening. That, or, the logic goes, the network is applying the Hubble to a match to simulate a firestorm.
For instance, one Media Matters piece, published three weeks before Terry McAuliffe lost his gubernatorial battle in Virginia, echoed the Democrat’s insistence that concerns about CRT in the schools were overblown. How did they know? Fox News, that’s how:
A coordinated and dishonest right-wing campaign has sought to turn local debates about school curricula into a polarized national issue Republicans can wield in state and national elections . . . Fox News ran nearly 100 segments on “critical race theory” in Virginia school systems from March through June . . . McAuliffe’s Republican opponent, businessman Glenn Youngkin, was the candidate who went the furthest in adopting Fox’s “critical race theory” narrative during the GOP primary. . . . The right-wing campaign, amplified by Fox and embraced by Youngkin, kept “critical race theory” in the spotlight until the mainstream press started asking him about it.
Yes, quite unfair for “local debates” to be projected onto the stage of state elections.
As Teixeira says, this attitude has not served Democrats well.
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