The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Tuesday, June 21, 2005  

Cable Operation Needs a Better Lawyer

Self-styled “liberal,” “feminist,” “Democrat” Susan Estrich has an op-ed piece in today’s Christian Science Monitor, “A Liberal’s Defense of Fox News.”

I can’t help but wonder why the Monitor’s editors thought Estrich’s opinion on this matter would be worth anything since, as the professor herself admits in her first paragraph, she is an employee of the Fox operation. Monitor readers would have been served better by publishing supportive views of a liberal with no connection to the cable network, but, alas, we’re left with this, and a strange essay it is, one in which Estrich brags (I think):

Prior to working for Fox, I worked for ABC and NBC, spent a lot of time at CNN, and almost ended up at CBS. I worked for a bunch of local stations in Los Angeles and had a talk-radio show at KABC for six years.

I admit to not having followed Estrich’s career closely enough to know whether her chaotic resume indicates she has been much in demand or whether she just gets fired or quits a lot.

Regardless, the pundit follows up with this: “In other words, I’m fortunate enough to have been around, and Fox News is the best place I’ve ever worked.” And so begins Estrich’s mash note to her boss, which continues:

I also work there because of my respect for Roger Ailes, the man who created it, and hired me, and to whom I am extremely loyal for reasons having nothing to do with ideology and everything to do with integrity. The jabs have gotten stronger with success. No surprise there. When you get to No. 1 as fast and as impressively as Fox News has, it’s a bull’s-eye, and Mr. Ailes would be the last person in the world to expect his competitors to go gently.

Excuse me, Ms. Estrich, Fox News is the “No. 1” what? Later in the piece she writes, “Three times as many people watch Fox every day as watch CNN,” which really means nothing at all in the larger scheme of things, since there are precious few Americans who identify either outlet as their primary source of news.

It’s not only Ailes who commands Estrich’s undying respect and admiration; she shares her love with Fox News colleagues Neil Cavuto and Brian Wilson.

Revealing her nose for news to be afflicted by a massive sinus infection, Estrich defends the hapless Cavuto as follows:

Mr. Cavuto, a Fox News anchor, sat down to do an interview with George Bush last week on his business show. He didn’t discuss Iraq. Cavuto doesn’t cover Iraq. As far as I know, he had nothing new to ask him, nothing new to add, and no important new question to pose. In fact, the president had nothing new to say on the topic. There was no news to be made on Iraq. [Emphasis added.]

This little toss-off is an appalling defense of Cavuto, one that should have been self-evidently embarrassing to Estrich, both as a lawyer and a journalist. (A journalist of sorts; perhaps “employee of an opinion distribution operation” is more accurate).

Unwilling to leave pathetic enough alone, Estrich digs still deeper with this bizarre observation about Caputo and professional journalists:

For this, he’s been summarily beaten up by the press corps -- the same one that still can’t figure out why it got it all wrong about those weapons of mass destruction that justified the war.

Of course, if we were to apply Estrich’s own analytical standards to the question of alleged Iraqi weaponry, mushroom clouds and all, we would end with something like this: In fact, the president said Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. There are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. No need to ask the man any serious questions about that.

Laugh or cry at Estrich; it’s your choice.

[Post-publication addendum (June 22): If you liked this post, don’t miss Steve Gilliard’s take at the News Blog, “Fox Democrat = Honest Used Car Salesman,” nor TBogg’s post, “The Downward Spiral.”]

[Post-publication addendum (June 23): Roger Ailes, the admirable blogger, not the detestable toe-sucking slob, weighs in on the matter with “Estrich Marks.”]

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