Liberty Expose: Why Fox News Exists
If you ever wondered why Fox News exists, look no further than the events surrounding Kevin Williamson. Here is the backstory: Kevin Williamson was formerly a writer at National Review, the journal of record for conservative thought. Mr. Williamson might be the most talented political writer in America, and is stalwart in philosophic consistency – which is presumably why the Atlantic, a center-left magazine, hired him. Kevin Williamson is also an iconoclast who has no problem exploring ideas to their logical extreme.
Under the leadership of editor Jeffery Goldberg, the Atlantic expanded and now includes an “ideas” section for opinion writers. They wanted diverse viewpoints, so they acquired Mr. Williamson to represent the Right. Good for the Atlantic for wanting diversity; it is a shame that many readers and fellow journalists did not feel that way. There was an immediate outcry because of the hire. Much of the cries labeled Mr. Williamson a “troll” and pointed to comments he made regarding abortion. In his podcast Mad Dogs and Englishman (which he co-hosts with Charles C.W. Cooke of National Review), Williamson was presented with the challenge of applying logic to the death penalty (it should be noted that Williamson opposes the death penalty.) He goes on to argue that, if applied to its logical extreme, women who had abortions should be hanged for murder. (Aside: the general pro-life consensus does not hold this view).
Williamson argues for hanging because he believes that if the state is to do violence, than it must not hide behind the mask of clinical obscurity. Both Williamson and Cooke moved on after this; it was a thought experiment which none actually agreed, as both are opposed to the death penalty. It is an extreme view, but freedom of thought is still legal in America – at least theoretically.
Williamson has reiterated his view on hanging on Twitter, and critics have also pointed to an article Williamson wrote in which he described conditions in East St. Louis. Critics have charged racism, though what was said in the article could only be interpreted as racist if one views reality through the sphere of race. At first Jeffery Goldberg defended his hire (he used some absurdity about “second chances”), but once Goldberg realized that Williamson believed the things he writes, Goldberg caved. Evidently, “second chances” means “changing your viewpoints to match the majority. Winston Smith being tortured until he comes to love Big Brother comes to mind. Instead of defending his hire, Goldberg decided to be a coward and fired Williamson.
It is not that Kevin Williamson is unique in saying the extreme; take a look at his co-hire, Ibram Kendi, professor of history and international relations at American University. In his debut column for the Atlantic’s opinion section, Kendi compares Fraternities to MS-13. (Fun fact: Sigma Alpha Epsilon has not caused a migration crisis.) Ibram Kendi does not need to be fired, he needs to be debated.
Kevin Williamson is not the first conservative to face tremendous backlash for the mere act of being hired. Around this time last year the New York Times hired Bret Stephens, a Pulitzer-winning, center-right Wall Street Journal columnist, to write for the Times. This was deemed unacceptable for thousands of NYT subscribers and a few NYT journalists. Bret Stephens differs from Kevin in that he believes in many ideas accepted by the Left, he just does not believe them enough.
Stephens has written columns criticizing some rhetoric of the climate change movement. He has not criticized the idea of climate change, rather is skeptical of some of the extremism he sees in the arguments. But that is not enough to save him from being charged as a “climate denier” (the most Orwellian insult in common usage) and having his termination demanded. The NYT has received letters telling of subscription cancellations because they did not want their worldview challenged (in not so many words). Fellow Times journalists also showed disgust with the hire: the Times Cairo bureau chief called Stephens a racist for a column Stephens wrote condemning racism. To the credit of the Times, they did not fire Bret Stephens like Jeffery Goldberg cowardly did to Kevin Williamson.
This is why conservative media exists. Journalists on the right have been shown that their ideas will not be tolerated. It does not matter that Kevin Williamson is opposed the death penalty, or that Bret Stephens is so “center” in center-right that he advocates the repeal of the Second Amendment.
After the hell the Times and the Atlantic endured for hiring writers with diverse viewpoints, it would be surprising if they ever hired a conservative again. They may hire a Joe Scarborough-type who claims to be of the right, but does not hold any conservative views, but a true right-winger will be hard to come by; and the definition of “right-wing” expands by the day. Platforms that embrace intellectual diversity such as Modern Treatise are becoming increasingly harder to find.
Conservative media provides a haven for those whom think differently. Instead of the media being a platform for debate, the two ideological strains must form their own spheres of influence. It should be no wonder why America grows more culturally divided by the day. The naïve and simplistic answer would be to plead tolerance: but to the true believers that called for the termination of Kevin Williamson and Bret Stephens, the act of tolerating different viewpoints is equivalent to aligning with them. It would seem that Bourgeoisie notions of debate and intellectual diversity are no longer popular. We are in an age where news is only news when it aligns to the consumer’s worldview, and ideas are only ideas when the reader agrees.