Newt Gingrich hasn’t been an elected official in more than fifteen years, but according to Mother Jones blogger Kevin Drum, Gingrich’s vitriolic approach to politics during his years in the House of Representatives remains influential via Fox News. (Even though Gingrich stars on CNN.)
Piggybacking on an Andrew Sullivan blog post in which Sullivan alleged that watching Fox News was “like slipping into an alternative universe” where “hysteria is the constant norm,” Drum wrote on Thursday that Gingrich “brought conservative politics to a truly new, truly unprecedented level of toxic rancor,” and that Fox News is now “the ongoing, institutional expression of Gingrichism.”
From Drum’s post (emphasis added):
Over the years, the more that I've thought about the evolution of conservative politics over the past few decades, the more I become convinced that Fox News is really at the center of it. Sure, it all started with a base of Reagan and the Christian Right and talk radio and the Republican takeover of the South. But Newt Gingrich was the game changer. He's the one who brought conservative politics to a truly new, truly unprecedented level of toxic rancor.
Here's the thing, though: As critical as Gingrich was, he lasted only a few years before flaming out and becoming a historical footnote. It was Fox News that became the ongoing, institutional expression of Gingrichism. The Republican Party would have turned right in any case, but without Fox I'm just not sure Gingrichism would ever have developed a critical mass. Without Fox, our politics never would have gotten so astonishingly toxic that a significant fraction of the nation—not just a fringe—honestly believes that we have a lawless, America-hating tyrant in the White House who's literally committed himself to destroying the country from both within and without.
Yes, the tea party has won. But it won because of support from Fox News. In reality, it's Fox News that won. And for all that Fox gets a lot of attention, I still wonder how many non-conservatives really watch it. Not just the occasional clip on Jon Stewart or Media Matters that's good for a laugh or an eye roll. How many really sit down occasionally and take in a full evening? Or a whole day? Because that's the only way you'll really understand.