Since its launch in 1996, Fox News has provided the Republican party with an unrivaled propaganda machine. Fox News was the principal engine of the Republican echo chamber giving endless coverage to GOP smears and wing-nut conspiracy theories which the establishment media would then report as if they were credible. Without Fox News there would have been no Tea Party, no Swiftboat liars and no President George W. Bush.
Fox News is now the dominant force within the GOP. When Murdoch says jump, Republican politicians are forced to ask ‘how high’. Practically the entire GOP base relies on Fox as their principal source for news. When David Frum observed that “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we are discovering we work for Fox,” he was fired from his position at the AEI two days later.
But even as Fox consolidates its grip on power within the GOP the Fox News echo chamber of old is broken. The establishment media no longer consider a story news because the Murdoch press is giving it saturation coverage. It now takes a Congressional committee investigation and a spurious contempt vote to gain the fleeting attention of the mainstream media.
The Fox News of old served as a conduit for GOP misinformation to the public at large. It is still a conduit for misinformation but now the GOP is on the receiving end. It is not just Romney who is out of touch with the real world, his entire campaign team has spent the past decade in the alternative universe of Fox News.
How else could Team Romney have built their campaign strategy on the assumption that Barack Obama does not know how to respond to smears and derisive insults? Romney has spent over a year and a hundred million dollars fighting against the Obama that only exists in the mind of Fox News viewers: The weak guy who would apologize and offer Romney a hug, not the real Obama who responded with the ‘Firms’ ad in less than 24 hours.
What people have been explaining as the ‘bitch slap’ theory of politics has turned out to be no more than intelligent people acting on false information. They assumed that the smears and lies that work so well on Fox would work in a campaign. If Romney had really been following the bitch-slap theory he would have thought that demanding an apology gives the appearance of weakness. Instead Romney blinked and after months of attack ads that were transparently unfair, demanded an apology for an attack nobody else thought unfair.
There is no question that Fox News was a powerful asset for the GOP for its first ten years, it is hard to see it as any sort of benefit to the party today.