Media Matters' Misguided Gloating over FBN Shake Up

In what amounted to a media “night of the long knives,” last week Fox Business Network abruptly cancelled its three politics-oriented prime-time shows and starting February 20th will replace them with repeats of its earlier 5-8pm business related lineup.  It would appear that FBN made this move  with the aim of reverting back to its pure business mission statement and shedding the image of a second-string version of  Fox News Network’s nighttime power trio of O’Reilly, Hannity and Van Susteren.

One can understand this call from a marketing standpoint.  FBN’s ratings were sub-par and in a broader sense, if FBN wishes to compete directly with a CNBC and Bloomberg, it seems logical to jettison a lineup that focused more on the halls of Congress than the boardroom.

Needless to say, frequent FBN assailant Media Matters For America was quick to gloat over this putsch. They have often accused the network of being hyper-partisan and even going “off the rails.”  Indeed, they are correct in that FBN’s prime-time hosts were no friends of the administration. And of course, as we have learned on these sites and others recently, if there are any experts on being shills for one political point-of-view it is Media Matters For Obam–America (oops!).  They also have been critics of what they see as FBN being a “cover band” for the afore mentioned FNN lineup and offering up programming wholly unrelated to business.  But in another sense, politics and business have now become so intertwined that FBN was perfectly within its right to offer such shows.  I do commend it for its willingness to take such a bold step outside the box of typical business network offerings in the first place.

The show I will really miss is “Freedom Watch” hosted by the exuberant and always vigilant Judge Andrew Napolitano.  What madeFW different was that it was, besides the once-a-week “Stossel,” the only prime-time news show dedicated to the ideal of libertarianism and truly limited government.  I was a frequent guest on the show and discussed with the Judge everything from Libya, to gasoline prices, to the Fed.  If anything, FW provided an alternative viewpoint that cast a wary eye to Washington D.C. and saw as much of a threat to liberty coming from the encroachment of government power and what it saw as a steady trampling of the Constitution as it did from Al Qaeda, North Korea and Iran.

Although I disagreed sharply with some of the Judge’s positions–for example: I believe Lincoln was a great president, not a tyrant, nor do I think a Ron Paul can call possibly himself a lover of liberty while defending the slave-holding Confederacy–on many others such as his mistrust of the Fed, his concern over government intrusion of civil liberties, his position on the so-called “war on drugs” and other libertarian matters I believe he was spot on. He was a rare voice in this respect: he was a member of the judicial establishment who nonetheless became over the years vociferously anti-establishment.

The fact is, as the Gulf of Tonkin to WMD show, the US government is not always straight with the American people, or in the latter case sometimes is just dead wrong.  Without vigorous watchdogs bringing an inherent mistrust of central power and their concerns over our loss of freedoms to the public forum on a regular basis, that government will just amass ever more unfettered power and control over our daily lives until it is too late to turn back.  We need push-back shows like “Freedom Watch” to ask on our behalf the questions many of us simply do not have the time nor the information to investigate.

But what did a program like “Freedom Watch” have to do with business?  What did the Judge’s concerns over the size and scope of a federal government grown far beyond its Constitutional charge matter to a businessperson or investor?  Well, a lot actually.  Never before have business and politics been so mixed in the same corrupt broth; never has such a symbiosis between the two existed in this country’s power centers.  The decisions that politicians in Washington make, from voting for bailouts and stimulus, to investing in green tech, to crafting mountains of regulations and new healthcare provisions have a direct impact on the performance of Wall Street and the greater private sector as a whole.  And these decisions are in turn influenced by the money flowing into political campaigns from the very businesses that benefit from those same policies … policies that have a very material effect on our ability to compete in a global economy.

The cancellation of Keystone XL is a prime example of the co-mingling of business and government.  Obama’s decision was a purely political one, seen as a sacrifice on the altar of the Democratic party’s green constituency.  But it also impacted Transcanada’s bottom line, nixed the creation of 20,000 truly shovel-ready jobs, and could have far reaching implications as to energy prices and supply going forward.  Furthermore, it is no coincidence that the billionaire from Omaha benefited as it will be over his railroads that non-pumped crude will be transported.  And when you think about it, have we ever before had one businessman (successful no doubt, but also driven by self-interest to his core, lamentations of his under-taxation notwithstanding) whose every word is so treated as gospel by the novice president who never ran a popcorn stand before becoming chief executive of 25% of the world’s GDP?  Every time Obama utters the name Warren Buffet one thought comes to mind … get a room.

For Media Matters For Obam–America to say politics has no place in a business network is nonsense.

In my own dealings, Dodd-Frank, a 2,200 page monstrosity of a political document, written by two morons by any standard other than political acumen (and who are no longer even in Congress) could have far-reaching and costly consequences upon an entire industry: one that is much more vital to a vastly broader range of businesses than these small men could possibly understand.

Bailouts have literally saved entire industries from collapse, whether or not they should have been allowed to go under.

In Solyndra the federal government saw itself as a venture capitalist with our money and promptly lost $500 million when its investment imploded.  Politics and the ideology of activist environmentalism were as much behind this debacle as the company’s business model.

Oh, politics and business are in bed these days as never before.  And as such, political watchdog programs such as “Freedom Watch” hosted by intelligent, sincere, affable, and informed personalities like Judge Napolitano should very much have a role in a business network.  Again, I am not second-guessing Fox’s decision, just the logic that “Freedom Watch” and others have nothing to do with business.  They do.  (Believe me, I wish it were not so.)  To me, the great irony of the Judge’s show being cancelled is this: the larger and more powerful the federal government becomes, the more it will wield an influence on American business and ultimately shape our entire economic landscape…and yet a business network saw no place for a program that among all others raised the alarm over the metastasizing political-financial complex and ever more insidious pressures it exerts upon the very business community about which Fox Business Network is reporting.

On a final note: Media Matters For Obam–America should project less and address those embarrassing revelations that have both the right AND the left throwing the propaganda outfit under the bus.


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