Fox News liberal

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Fox News liberal and Fox News Democrat are pejorative terms used among Democrats and liberals in the U.S. to refer to those commentators and politicians who hold themselves out as liberals and/or Democrats, yet do one or more of the following:

  • frequently agree with their conservative and/or Republican opposite numbers on TV talk shows or in legislative bodies on various issues and positions;
  • show no hesitation to distance themselves from and criticize their fellow Democrats and liberals, especially to predominantly conservative audiences;
  • present weak arguments in favor of liberal/Democratic positions, and refuse to debate or easily succumb to conservative/Republican arguments;
  • base their arguments on dubious claims made by conservatives and Republicans, thereby suggesting that those are valid liberal/Democratic positions;

The term is similar to Democrat In Name Only (DINO). It is based on the belief, held by many on the left, that the Fox News Channel has a conservative/Republican bias, and that many of the Fox News commentators who claim to be liberal are straw men hired to ineffectively present liberal viewpoints.

The term was first applied in 2004 to Alan Colmes, the liberal cohost to conservative Sean Hannity on the Fox News show Hannity & Colmes. Liberal viewers have long found Colmes' quiet, deferential style infuriating, particularly in contrast to the outspoken Hannity; and Colmes himself has sometimes taken more right-leaning positions, such as supporting Rudolph Guiliani for mayor of New York City and defending Mississippi Senator Trent Lott after the latter made racially suspect remarks at the 100th birthday party for the late Sen. Strom Thurmond. It hasn't helped Colmes with his liberal critics either that he has also defended Fox's "fair and balanced" slogan as accurate, or that he has been praised by prominent conservatives such as Newt Gingrich and was once chosen as the favorite liberal by posters on a Free Republic forum. Liberal commentator Al Franken lambasted Colmes in his popular book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, accusing him of refusing to ask tough questions during debates and neglecting to challenge allegedly-erroneous claims made by Hannity or his guests (Franken even jokingly suggested that Colmes is a whipping boy who's forced to do odd jobs around the Fox News studios).

Susan Estrich and Pat Caddell, two other frequent Fox commentators noted primarily for their links to past Democratic presidential campaigns, have also been called Fox News liberals for exhibiting similar tendencies and appearing to care more that the conservatives like them and that they continue to appear on television than defending liberalism and the Democratic Party.

The 2004 documentary Outfoxed claimed to show that the Fox News producers purposely choose unthreatening liberal commentators, both in the interviews with former producers for the network who spoke anonymously and an interview with a former commentator who recalled how he was let go early by Fox in what was supposed to be a long-term arrangement after challenging the case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq too forcefully.

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