In the civil war that broke out between Republicans the minute the election was called for President Obama, media conservatives have turned on media conservatives. But none have shown more recklessness than Andrew Sullivan, chief American columnist for Murdoch’s Sunday Times in London, who on “Real Time With Bill Maher” cheerfully chewed off the hand that feeds him. “The Republican Party has to say, ‘We have no part of Fox News,’ ” Sullivan declared.
Attacking Murdoch’s grip on the post-defeat Republican debate through the strict party line dictated by Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, the clearly agitated Sullivan said, “The media-industrial complex on the right is so lucrative they don’t want to lose it. And it is now controlling a political party. That has to be severed. Fox News has to be demonized and cut off.”
Sullivan is no leftie. An avowed Reagan and Thatcher fan who moved to Washington from Britain and became a U.S. citizen to more closely involve himself in conservative thinking, he is the moderate right’s equivalent to that other naturalized Brit, the late Christopher Hitchens. [r2] Sullivan is smart, eloquent and has championed individual rights and attacked social conservatives, not least because he is openly gay.
His extraordinary outburst against Murdoch’s “media-industrial complex” is both brave and foolhardy. He appears to have reached a breaking point and sees Murdoch’s henchmen defining the Republican Party in such a narrow, unattractive way as to make it totally unelectable. How long Sullivan can keep his lucrative Sunday Times gig will depend on how generous Murdoch feels toward those who attack his pride and joy, Fox News. Murdoch is not known for forgiving those who pee inside the tent.
Sullivan’s day job is writing a blog for Newsweek, once a champion of liberal causes that, since falling under Barry Diller’s ownership, has become home to the few articulate conservatives Murdoch does not wholly own. Sullivan is not alone in his belief that Murdoch’s TV and newspaper empire has ignored moderate conservative voices in favor of the more sensational and simplistic views of Tea Partyers. His views are shared by former George W. Bush speechwriter and Newsweek blogger David Frum, who similarly blames Romney’s defeat on the “conservative entertainment complex” that has “fleeced,” “exploited” and “lied” to Republicans.