Here comes the technicolour Sun
We feared it when we heard it was coming. It was like the water shaking in the glass as the T-Rex approaches in Jurassic Park. “Fox News North”. Hide your kids, hide your wife. The crazy conservatives were coming.
While a successful letter campaign to the CRTC ensured that the network would not be recognized as a category one and made mandatory on the airwaves like other news stations are, on April 18, 2011 a bikini-clad Krista Erickson welcomed Canada to the Sun News Network.
The network has stumbled out of the gate. With Krista Erickson’s mal-informed tongue-lashing of interpretive dancer Margie Gillis, hosting a fake citizenship reaffirmation ceremony, and accusing the CBC of using public funding to secure pornography, Sun News has made almost as much news almost as it has reported. While full of conservative rhetoric, Sun News has so far failed to capture an audience like their American compatriots Fox News. But it can, and while those on the left may fear it, it may actually be one of the best things that can happen.
Many people, especially those outside the United States or north of the Mason-Dixon Line, like to scoff at the Fox News Network’s brand of “infotainment” and relish in polls that demonstrate Fox News viewers are among the least informed persons in the country when it comes to news and current events. But what is often missed by the upturned and often snobbish liberal viewpoint is the very real and very influential presence and contribution that Fox provides to America’s political dialogue. The Tea Party is the beacon of this contribution.
While at its heart it is a grassroots enterprise made up of people simply fed up with their government, the Tea Party would have remained just another fringe movement were it not for Fox News, who became the Party’s early champion, covering the Party’s growth from its small beginnings in February 2009, to today where the Tea Party has its own recognized candidates within the Republican Party, its own caucus, and forms its own response to the State of the Union address. It is highly unlikely that any of this would have been possible were it not for the platform that the Fox News Network provided the movement, particularly by providing daily air time to Glenn Beck.
Beck, who has since left Fox, was the poster boy for leftist exasperation, Jon Stewart’s cannon fodder and what liberals point to as everything that is wrong with conservative America. He was one of the brashest and most brazen of Tea Party supporters, and it is hard to deny that much of what he said was hyper-charged rhetoric, frequently full of falsehoods, and at times bordered on insanity; however, Beck breathed fire into the movement and helped to organize the Tea Party (something the left-wing Occupy movement is sorely lacking) and solidify their national status.
The movement is not only here to stay, but it is getting stronger.
The Tea Party currently has 62 members of the House of Representatives and 4 senators making up its caucus, and has a very realistic chance of splitting the Republican Party in two. The highly conservative anti-spend, anti-government involvement Tea Party on one side, and a more moderate-conservative new Republican Party on the other; the Tea Party has the potential to achieve what dozens of other political movements have failed to do in America’s almost 250 year history: break up the two party system. Fox’s role is undeniable.
While the opinions propagated by Fox News may make leftists cringe, it is important to remember that they also represent the sentiments of roughly half of the population of the most powerful nation in the world. Those are opinions that, however unseemly to some, must be heard and considered. After all, the mob is fully entitled to participate in democracy.
Our Conservative government likes to say that Canada is becoming a more conservative place, that Conservative values are Canadian values. The last four elections tell us that they are not wrong – the Conservatives captured 40 per cent of the popular vote en route to their majority government, a number that has increased in every election since Stephen Harper became party leader.
If conservative supporters want a network that puts a conservative slant on stories, then let them have it. We should all, left or right, embrace Sun News and the dialogue it can create, if for no other reason than that it will fuel the dormant leftist passion that has been lacking in recent years.
If Sun News can get its act together, the conversations and debates will benefit and our political society will be better for it.