Roger L. Simon

Thompson vs. Fox

When it comes to covering presidential campaigns, I’m a distinct amateur (just some guy in “pajamas”, as they say), but having just interviewed Fred Thompson, I can’t resist putting in my one and a half cents on this morning’s dustup between Fox’s Chris Wallace and Thompson.

Former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) suggested on Sunday that Fox News is biased against his campaign, charging that the network highlights commentators who have been critical of his run for the presidency.

In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace pressed Thompson on how some conservatives have lambasted Thompson’s campaign and showed clips of Fox conservative commentators Charles Krauthammer and Fred Barnes criticizing the former senator.

Thompson said, “This has been a constant mantra of Fox, to tell you the truth.”

Etc. … Well, Thompson has a point. Not just Fox but all the networks have a pretty set way of covering the campaign that is based on fairly shallow conventional wisdom. The coverage of the candidates’ views on the issues is similarly shallow – and not just on Fox, obviously. This is a universal problem. No wonder Thompson was grateful for the opportunity to explain his view on the War on Terror, at least, in our interview linked above.

Of course, the networks’ methods are just a product of a presidential election system, which is itself decades out of date. The kind of retail politics being practiced in Iowa and New Hampshire is almost comically out of step with needs of the modern presidency. We act as it we want to elect someone who is good at hanging out in coffee shops and schmoozing, when nothing could be further from the President’s actual job when in office. A business would find this method of choosing its employees – or executives – ridiculous.

I know I’m tooting my own company’s horn here, but I think if people watched the PJM interview with Thompson they would learn more about the candidate than a month of state fair photo ops. We’re in the 21st Century, folks. Enough of that cutesy nonsense – it’s wasting our time.

And I will say one thing more about Messrs. Krauthammer and Barnes, referred to above. As I noted, I have little personal experience of political campaigns, but I have worked in Hollywood for thirty years, a very similar town to Washington, as I am far from the first to say. (“Washington is Hollywood for ugly people, etc.”) Both towns run on that most deadly of sins – envy. The common scuttlebutt about Thompson (or anybody) is often motivated and distorted by that envy. Let’s try to find out what the people (candidates) really think.