Much of the post-election defeat analysis on Ricochet has consisted of some version of the argument to make the conservative case more broadly. Rob's anti-Rovian plea on the recent edition of GLoP called for persuading a convincing majority rather than narrowly triangulating for a mere 50.5% of the electorate. Elsewhere on the same podcast, the GLoPsters lamented the loss of Firing Line as a cultural touchstone that lent credence to the intellectual respectability of conservatism among a mainstream audience. Others have rightly made the case that alternative media, while necessary and valuable, is insufficient.
I believe this means, in part, advocating for a larger presence on what we call MSM but what most people think of simply as the media. Instead of mocking the insufficient arguments of the Davids (Brooks and Frum), we should be supplanting them with equally erudite but more principled speakers. I'm not sure how such things are done, but I'm quite certain that if the Koch brothers wanted to fund a few months of retainer for Hill & Knowlton, they could figure out how to increase the presence of National Review editors and various think-tank analysts on network news outlets.
But the other important task, in my opinion, is to raise the bar at Fox. Please don't misunderstand: Fox is a startlingly successful business enterprise that has had a significant positive influence on the media.
But it also has a lot of dreck.
Much of it is dumb and blow-dried and lends itself far too easily to late night parody. It is too gleeful when the vice president misspeaks and too outraged by rap lyrics. It is way, way, (way) too white bread. How many middle-aged (generously speaking), gin blossomed Irish guys does it need rehashing the same three stories of the day? In all that airtime, is there no room for genuinely smart programming? What about an honest debate with a smart, articulate liberal (no, Juan Williams does not count.)
Why should Charlie Rose be lauded by the culture with seeming endless airtime when Peter Robinson is relegated to the Web? How can Troy Senik with a nano-production staff churn out a laugh-out-loud and fascinating podcast on legal issues and there is no room for such stuff on Fox? Is there a single National Review reader that does not flip to the back of the magazine to read The Long View first? Yet to see its author on Fox, one must be willing to stay up until 3AM.
Fox News is good at what it does. But it could do so much more. It could be smarter, more credible, more broadly appealing, more profitable and, in the process, more effective.