Why The Fox News Primary Is Such A Debacle

The precarious state of the Republican primary season continues to draw much media chatter, as the party faithful seem to lurch from one imploding candidate to the next. Now, with Clinton-era player Newt Gingrich suddenly vaulting to the top of the polls, even conservatives are acknowledging what a wreck the season may turn out to be. Today, CNN's Erick Erickson posted a lament at RedState today about the possible GOP “suicide pact” that's emerging as voters in Iowa prepare to cast ballots in three weeks.

If Erickson and his colleagues are searching for their Dr. Kevorkian, I'd suggest they look no further than Fox News, which, as The New York Times noted this week, “practically owns and operates” the Republican primary.

Here's why Fox News is to blame. From a Yahoo News report this month [emphasis added]:

Recent polling data indicates that while the president suffers from significantly low job approval ratings, voters still give “high approval” to Obama personally, Thompson said.

Voters “don't think he's an evil man who's out to change the United States” for the worse--even though many of the same survey respondents agree that his policies have harmed the country, [Nicholas] Thompson said. The upshot, Thompson stressed, is that Republicans should “exercise some caution” when talking about the president personally.

Thompson is a vice president at the Terrance Group, a national Republican polling and research firm.

Interesting. Counseling Republicans for the upcoming election year, strategists note that Obama is still personally well liked by voters who don't see him as a radical or destructive figure in U.S. politics.

But is that what you see and hear on Fox News day in and day out? Of course not. Instead, Fox News caters to the most devoted of Obama haters who tune in and expect to be reminded, during any random ten or fifteen minute viewing, about how appalling and disliked and dangerous and untrustworthy and traitorous Obama is, and what a perilous threat he poses to American liberty and freedom.

That's the Fox News programming m.o. - to sell fear and maintain a pressing dread that viewers' way of life remains under constant attack from un-American liberals. And in terms of niche cable television, the strategy works.

But now that Fox News has moved in and essentially replaced the RNC as the driving electoral force in Republican politics today, and now that Roger Ailes is playing kingmaker and candidates have to bow down to Fox News hosts in search of votes, campaigns are being forced to become part of the channel's unhinged culture of personal destruction.

The GOP problem for 2012? Voters “don't think [Obama's] an evil man who's out to change the United States.”