Journalist Tom Ricks crystalized one of the major problems with Fox News, calling the network a “wing of the Republican Party” on Fox's own airwaves.
Ricks' statement echoes a comment made years earlier by then-White House communications director Anita Dunn. While Dunn was attacked for her statement at the time, Ricks' willingness to call Fox out while appearing on the network itself shows just how clearly Fox has established itself as the communications arm of the GOP.
In October 2009, Dunn appeared on CNN's media criticism show Reliable Sources and pointed out that “Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party.” Following her comments, Fox figures viciously attacked Dunn and the White House, using those statements to accuse President Obama of placing Fox on an “enemies list.”
Three years later, Ricks, a columnist for Foreign Policy magazine, criticized Fox News' attempt to manufacture a scandal from the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, claiming the story was “hyped by this network especially” and accused Fox of “operating as a wing of the Republican Party” before being cut off by Fox anchor Jon Scott.
While Ricks is one of the few public figures to accuse Fox of partisan bias on its own network, he's not the first to echo Dunn's accurate description of the network. Following Dunn's appearance, Huffington Post managing editor Nico Pitney also appeared on Reliable Sources and said “the White House is taking on Fox News. And it's exactly the right thing to do. If the Republican National Committee had a television network, how would it be any different?” (accessed via Nexis)
In May, former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller called Fox the “cultural home of the Republican Party and a nonstop Obama roast,” pointing out that “Fox pretends very hard to be something it is not, and in the process contributes to the corrosive cynicism that has polarized our public discourse.”
New York Times media critic David Carr wrote that Fox temporarily put politics aside in order to accurately call the winner of the 2012 presidential election, but also noted that it “has been suggested, here and elsewhere, that Fox News effectively became part of the Republican propaganda apparatus during the presidential campaign by giving pundit slots to many of the Republican candidates and relentlessly advocating for Mitt Romney once he won the nomination.”
New York magazine columnist Frank Rich, in an appearance on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show claimed that Fox News figures “have double employment” because “Fox really is an arm of the Romney campaign.”
Fox's insistence that it does not operate as a wing of the GOP is not only contradicted by experts, but by its own habit of ceaselessly attacking the Obama and promoting right-wing causes and candidates, not to mention Fox News executive vice president Bill Shine's description of the network as the “voice of opposition on some issues” soon after Obama's inauguration.