Ed Driscoll

"You Just Can't Say That On Network TV"

John Stossel explains why he’s moving to Fox:

It’s time for a change. Next month, I leave ABC News to start a weekly one-hour prime time show with Fox News.

When I announced that on my blog, plenty of viewers said they were happy to have me leave.

“Goodbye. You suck. You have found a much better home for your garbage reporting and backwards politics.”

“Congratulations on the move to the network intellectually suited to your quasi-libertarian corporate-apologist hackery!”

Oh well, you can’t please everyone. I don’t expect that my libertarian beliefs will please everyone at Fox, either.

Years ago, ABC hired me to do consumer reporting. When I wised up, deciding consumer “advocates” usually did more harm than good, that horrified some of my colleagues.

When I did my first TV special, I pointed out that regulation itself, by stifling innovation, can make life less safe. Two producers angrily objected, saying, “No respectable journalist would say that.” The senior producer on the program smugly told me, “You just can’t say that on network TV.”

And isn’t that the problem in a nutshell? Like Orwell’s ever-shrinking Newspeak Dictionary, what can be said on the network news has grown ever-smaller, in direct contrast to what can be shown on their primetime shows. To the best of my knowledge, there was only one evening network news report on Van Jones, prior to his close-up inspection tour of the undercarriage of President Obama’s bus. That was likely because someone in CBS felt shamed by Byron York’s report the day before he was fired pointing out the dearth of coverage. Similarly, yesterday’s ACORN report on the ABC Evening News came after over a week of the leftwing organization’s credibility being Alinksy-ized by Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government.

To understand how radically the network landscape has changed, it’s worth flashing back to this quote by David Gelernter from 1996, written about five minutes before Fox, Drudge and the Blogosphere began diversifying an-otherwise near-monolithic  media overculture:

“Today’s elite loathes the public. Nothing personal, just a fundamental difference in world view, but the hatred is unmistakable. Occasionally it escapes in scorching geysers. Michael Lewis reports in the New Republic on the ‘96 Dole presidential campaign: ‘The crowd flips the finger at the busloads of journalists and chant rude things at them as they enter each arena. The journalists, for their part, wear buttons that say ‘yeah, i’m the Media. Screw You.’ The crowd hates the reporters, the reporters hate the crowd– an even matchup, except that the reporters wield power and the crowed (in effect) wields none.”

The smugness remains, and the hatred for much of their (now former) readers, as witnessed by the monolithic racialism currently emanating from old media. But the power has definitely shifted, via both more ideological options on TV thanks to Fox, and many, many options via the Web. So it’s tough to blame to Stossel for moving on, but it’s sad that that leaves Jake Tapper as the only voice approaching what was once called “objectivity” at ABC.

Hey, they could always bring Leo back