The longshoreman turned homespun philosopher Eric Hoffer is semi-forgotten today. But his book The True Believer (1951) is full of pertinent aperçus. One that has recurred to me often of late is the observation that “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”
I cannot quite say why, but Hoffer’s tart mot comes back to me, especially when I have pondered the recent fate of Fox News. I should begin by acknowledging that I do not regularly watch any television news, including Fox. Indeed, I do not regularly watch any television. Whenever I stumble over the offerings by the so-called “mainstream” outlets – CNN, MSNBC, CBS, etc. – I vacillate between being appalled by their glitzy vacuousness and outraged by their shrill, almost hysterical (I do not mean funny) partisanship.
I used to enjoy watching Tucker Carlson, which I discovered one could get in segments gratis after the show aired. I thought it the single most intelligent and most independent-minded commentary on television. It was also supremely entertaining. But then Fox infamously jettisoned Carlson, their most popular host, for reasons that, to me at least, remain somewhat obscure. Some people say it has something to do with the $787 million libel judgment rendered against Fox in its fight with the Dominion voting machine company. Maybe so.
In any event, like many people, I thought that the change I sensed happening at Fox accelerated markedly after Carlson was pushed out. The truth is, however, that the change has been happening since 2016 when Roger Ailes, who started Fox in 1996 and built it into a $20 billion per year business, was pushed out by Rupert Murdoch. The whole Ailes story is ably told in a documentary called, in homage to Teddy Roosevelt, The Man in the Arena.
Curiously, Fox, the dispenser of news, is now the object of news itself with the revelation that it has been enabling charitable contributions to such dubious organizations as the Satanic Temple, the Trevor Project and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Planned Parenthood, dear to the hearts and wombs of feminists, is another leftwing recipient of Fox’s largess.
This weekend, Newsmax and Blaze Media aired an extraordinary exposé of the scheme. Under the guise of corporate charitable giving, Fox is matching contributions of up to $1,000 per employee to various tax-exempt entities that meet its criteria. Amazingly, entities like Satanic Temple and the LGBTQ Trevor Group qualify for the dough.
The write-up from The Blaze minces no words in describing these radical groups. “The Satanic Temple,” we read, is an atheistic leftist organization that has distributed satanic literature to children; publicly performed “unbaptisms”; sought to ensure that women can legally have their unborn children killed by way of their “religious abortion ritual” and erected statues of Baphomet [an occult Satanic deity] on government property.
The Southern Poverty Law Center is a leftist grievance organization that tends to characterize conservatives, parental rights groups, constitutionalists and those critical of big government as extremists and bigots. For instance, last month, the SPLC deemed Moms for Liberty an “anti-government extremist group.” Fox, which the SPLC previously called a “megaphone” for far-right extremist groups, has even written up some of the SPLC’s various scandals in the past, including the 2012 incident when a gunman attacked the Family Research Council, which he noted he had seen on the SPLC’s “hate map.”
The Trevor Project is an activist group that purportedly seeks to “end suicide among LGBTQ young people” but actively promotes gender ideology and woke propaganda. The group claims that “gender is a social construct” and holds fast to the notion that sex-change mutilations and cross-sex hormone therapies can be meaningful remedies for at-risk teens.
Hitherto, Fox has been regarded as a conservative voice in a landscape overwhelmingly dominated by “progressive,” which is to say, increasingly woke and activist voices.
The Blaze quotes a current Fox employee who said, “Fox pretends to care about Christians, but some of the stuff they push internally suggests otherwise. Glory holes, trans surgeries for kids, and potential donations to Satan are a huge slap in the face to every Christian at the company, and we resent it.”
The story of Fox’s errant charitable giving probably would have passed under the radar absent the organization dedicated to promulgating the philosophy of Satan, i.e., the philosophy of evil. But Satan was a step too far. As Roger Ailes’s widow Beth memorably put it, what we see on view here is “industrialized devil worship.” You’re not supposed to say such things, of course, but Mrs. Ailes is right. At some point, Fox News took a wrong turn. Now it appears to have driven off a cliff. No amount of woke, virtucratic flag-waving can save them. What they need is a new moral compass and a recommitment to delivering a “fair and balanced” news product. Will that happen? The jury is still out on that one.