The GOP Debate Wasn’t a Redemption for Fox
Plus: Kevin McCarthy touts factory that benefited from legislation he opposed
Good afternoon Press Pass readers. Before we jump in, tonight at 8 p.m. EDT you can watch my Bulwark colleagues Jonathan V. Last, Mona Charen, and Bill Kristol discussing the GOP primary debate, Donald Trump’s interview with Tucker Carlson, and Trump turning himself in (and getting a mugshot taken) in Georgia, which is expected later today. Our Thursday Night Bulwark livestreams are exclusively for Bulwark+ members, but we do have a 30-day free trial for you below.
In today’s edition of Press Pass—which is also just for Bulwark+ members—I try something a bit unusual: Instead of looking at the debate from the point of view of the candidates and what they wanted to accomplish, I look at it from the moderators’ position. As Fox prepared for the debate, stories began popping up about how the debate represented the start of a “new chapter” for Fox after years of embarrassing revelations about their poor journalistic ethics.
Earlier in the week, the first Republican primary debate was framed as a redemption arc for Fox News, which has in recent years been exposed for its rampant dishonesty. “After Dominion Case, GOP Debate gives Fox News chance to burnish image,” was the headline atop a story by Washington Post media reporter Jeremy Barr.
The silliness of the premise, though, was exposed by the reality of what happened during the debate. The debate turned out not to be an attempt to reverse course at Fox so much as it was just a routine continuation of the network’s standard operating procedure. Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum moderated by spreading false narratives, enabling demagoguery, and going all in on anecdotal culture-war fodder under the guise of real kitchen-table issues.