Fox News hasn’t confirmed it, but when the Drudge Report stated that Megyn Kelly would be replacing Sean Hannity during the 9 p.m. prime time hour on the Fox News network, the rumor was taken as fact, both because of Drudge’s right-wing bonafides and because the move made a lot of sense. Normally, moving Fox personalities around is a matter of shuffling among cookie-cutter views. But in this case, the Fox tail could be wagging the Republican party dog in a new direction on gay issues.
On most gay issues at least, Kelly has been, especially for Fox, remarkably measured. She has ripped a transphobic guest to pieces during an interview, she has repeatedly compared banning same-sex marriage to banning interracial marriage, and has called other conservatives on the carpet for denying scientific evidence that children of gay parents are just as adjusted as other children.
Now lest we go into a swoon too soon, Kelly has her bad moments. Last April, she asked Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, how it felt to be attacked by people “who want tolerance and acceptance.” Since Perkins heads an organization designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, he hardly seems worthy of concerns about his tender feelings, unless you grant him legitimacy he doesn’t deserve.
Still, the elevation of Kelly could be one sign that Fox might point the way out of the GOP’s homophobic death spiral. On a lot of other issues, the party is unlikely to change. But if one of the network’s stars talks about gays in ways that are positive and gets a great big promotion, you have to pause.
Fox and its president Roget Ailes control the conversation on the right and set the agenda for the GOP. If Fox shifts the rhetoric on LGBT people, that will shift the rhetoric within the party. It probably won’t bring tons of young folks to Fox News prime time, but it will make it easier for the GOP to say to young voters that it isn’t totally out of touch on gay issues. That is potentially a big deal.
It’s worth noting that the man Kelly is replacing, Sean Hannity, hasn’t made homophobia a theme of his broadcast the way some of his peers have, although he has had his moments and has certainly given plenty of air time to crazies. (Remember Sarah Palin defending her daughter’s use of “faggot” against a friend in a Facebook posting? Good times!) Hannity even has a dating site that, for reasons best explained by them, has attracted a handful of gay men looking for love.
If change comes to Fox at all, it won’t be overnight. And it won’t be a total conversion. There will still be plenty of air time for the Tony Perkinses and Mike Huckabees of the world. Fox News coverage will still underplay gay issues or ridicule an LGBT community that exists only its hosts’ imagination. But just maybe, the network sees that some change has to happen. If that’s the case, Megyn Kelly would be the first place to look.
Photo credit: Fox News
No, not even slightly.
Megyn Kelly is still a low-life, good-for-nothing creature that exemplifies Faux News.
@2eo: @Joetx: Yep.
The comment, “Fox and its president Roget Ailes control the conversation on the right and set the agenda for the GOP” is laughable, paranoid Lefty-speak. You really believe the GOP, which has been around for close to 200 years, didn’t have an identity until Fox News came along? Seriously? Apparently, fantasy, not history, steers your opinions.
@BJ McFrisky: If you look at the agenda of Fox News and the political stances of the GOP, and in particulare the tea partiers, you will find them pretty much identical. How’d that happen?
@BJ McFrisky: Fox News was set up exclusively to be the media arm of the GOP. Having a 24/7 propaganda broadcast has certainly been a success for them.
It would be foolish to deny that they don’t take their orders from the very top of the GOP pyramid, who set the agenda and then get Fox News to spread the word.
Of course the GOP has been around longer than Fox, but some of the Republicans greatest hits involve courting the religious right, and setting up Fox News as their propaganda mouthpiece.
@rand503: Same could be said about MSNBC, CNN, the three broadcast networks, and the Democrats. They’re all swimming in the same pool.
@MK Ultra: Your statements are purely conjecture and contain no facts. Hate to break the news, but just because you say it doesn’t make it true.
Sounds to me like it’s YOU guys who’ve been the victims of relentless lefty propaganda. And the notion that Fox would rearrange its prime-time line-up to appease the gay population is downright absurd. Surely you would agree with that.
“Sounds to me like it’s YOU guys who’ve been the victims of relentless lefty propaganda. And the notion that Fox would rearrange its prime-time line-up to appease the gay population is downright absurd. Surely you would agree with that”
Hate to break it to you, but just because you say it doesn’t make it true.
See what I did there? Enjoy
the GOP couldnt pay me to vote for them…….are the dems perfect – Nooooo, but a hell of alot better then the GOP scum
@BJ McFrisky: #1 — Most wouldn’t consider 159 years as “close” to 200. Ever heard a 59 year old say they’re “close” to 100? Yeah, didn’t think so.
#2 — Who said the Republicans didn’t have an “identity” prior to Fox News? They had an identity. What the GOP did not have was a 24-hour cable news channel. Now they do.
#3 — Fox News is the most influential media outlet among conservatives. It can and will continue to shape opinion for the Republican Party.
@MK Ultra: Wow, you truly ARE the height of witticisms. How could I have possibly overlooked the fact that you’re so smart and clever and funny? Guess you put me in my place. I think now I’ll go cry in my beer (that’s in an RNC/Fox News mug, of course), and then contemplate self-immolation because I’m such an evil force in the world.
ps – I’m glad you acknowledged FNC’s success, but do you also recognize the failing numbers of CNN & MSNBC, not to mention print journalism? There’s a reason for this, and it’s not because America is a country of radical liberals. It’s because we realized that the media was biased, and Fox only served to level the playing field, not to indoctrinate the country in the ways of conservatives. And it still has the highest ratings in cable news.
@BJ McFrisky: Actually, yes. Fox News has hijacked the republican party. Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News, was the head of the party. Add in Rush and talking heads are in charge of the party, but Fox certainly has more sway. So, with all respect, even in your zeal to win this argument, you are wrong.
@BJ McFrisky: But I do agree with you that Fox did not do this to assuage the gays.
#1 – I like to round things out, Erik, and 159 is closer to 200 than 100. Man, talk about your nit-picking (and my words were “close to 200 years”).
#2 – And the DNC has had every newspaper and broadcast news outlet in their pocket since media was invented. They’re still covering for Obama and rooting for Hillary. It’s simultaneously funny and scary.
#3 – Yes, Fox is the most influential news outlet for conservatives . . . simply because there are no others. Smart analogy, though. It’s like stating that football is the most influential show among football fans.
You can’t hate Fox News for their success any more than you can hate America for being the greatest country on the planet.
Do I smell an ick Gruber image clean-up? Fox Noise has been found out and the damage is irreparable, so give up the make-over, it’s not working. Faux News is laughably synonymous with propaganda. “The Five” was a nauseatingly crass collection of Fox’s finest nerds. (If they are no longer on, forgive me, that’s how long it has been since I watched these bugs in a jar.) The women were just as gross as the men. The one with the round, thick glasses (that wore him) was absolutely sickening. The liver-lipped one that used to be married to Gavin Newsom (and was considered a geek, in a bad way, in high school,) is/was gnar. FUX is no longer seen as anything more than spin. They deserve each other.
Name-calling is what people resort to when losing the argument. And when they have the mentality of a nine-year-old. You guys are so predictable in your responses.
As what names would you refer to them, BJ MCFRisky? Be truthful, now. #4, #7, #11 are examples of name calling, but in a clever backwards kind of way, so don’t pat yourself too proudly, in public anyway.
@1EqualityUSA: I may be snarky in my sarcastic posts, but I’m never mean-spirited like you name-callers. You utilized the following adjectives in describing a news network:
and I don’t even know what the fuck “gnar” means, but I doubt it’s very complimentary. It’s not like you were describing the girls in your brownie troop, you were describing a cable news network. And in a very immature way, I might add. So don’t try to project your name-calling nastiness onto me.
(and yes, I’m doing some serious back-patting right now).
I’m not so concerned about a change in attitude at FOX. I am concerned about ALL the other media being so far to the left. And to think that taxpayer dollars are used to fund PBS and NPR is shameful.
@BJ McFrisky: another closeted conservative on here to present conservative views (and whack off to the pics of scantily clad boys).
The right realizes that they hate gays, blacks, Latinos (except Cubans), Asians and immigrants in general, Muslims and Hindus. What’s left? They know they can no longer win a national election by hating everyone. I just hope our community remembers how the Right has treated us.
You are too kind referring to Faux Noise as, “a cable news network.” Pat away, BJ. The nerves are more sensitive on the end however. Don’t miss, “The Five.” They’re counting on you.
Reading the argument that takes place on this page trying to compare Fox News with CNN or MSNBC or riduculing the funding of PBS and NPR speaks to this misnomer that there are two sides to every argument.
Truth is although everyone has the right to their own thoughts, opinions, and belief systems, THEY DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO CREATE THEIR OWN FACTS. Sometimes it is important to remember this. Just because a person believes something does not mean that they have a legitimate case to support those beliefs. Sometimes rights is right and wrongs is wrong.
Fox News was created for the people who disagree with truth. If you put a talking head on a screen and it reinforces every backwoods, inbred idea about the country was made for wealthy WASPS and anyone of a darker hue, non-christian, well read, gay, or foreign is a threat to national security. Then weak minded bigoted people who felt this way because of one reason or another (lack of exposure, lack of education, or being raised by bigots) will believe it. The same way that they still believe that cigarettes don’t cause cancer.
@BJ McFrisky: I think those adjectives were really meant for you…
You’re going to make him cry on the shoulder of his Shepard Smith doll. Incidentally, the root origin of “Shepard” is one who watches over sheep. Apropo. And the root origin of “Smith” is to smite. Smite those sheep, Shep, they live for it. Maybe someday your goon titer will be high enough to be part of…”The Five.”
This article is a perfect example of the so-called tolerant left being completely intolerant. Why shouldn’t Tony Perkins feel offended by the actions of people who want him to publicly keep his mouth shut? First of all, just because the Southern Poverty Law Center says the Family Research Council is a hate group doesn’t make it so. They are just people who strongly disagree with gay rights and they express those ideas. I think they’re nuts and despite their protestations I don’t believe they are good Christians.
That said they still have the right to express their views, no matter how much anyone else disagrees with them.
@WordsofReason: Everything in your rant was ironically exactly what you’re arguing against.
They disagree with gay rights.
People on here disagree with them.
So why are jumping down our throats?
Right wing troll?
@BJ McFrisky: Interesting that you should bring the word “Lefty” into the conversation, since the Republican party was founded as an anti-slavery, anti-big-business, and pro-small-business and pro-living-wage party: aka Liberal party. (At least, what passed for liberal at that point in history.)
Fox News has capitalized on the echo-chamber created by talk-radio. Fox News understands that all y’all conservatives love (and need) to have your beliefs reinforced on a daily basis, ‘cuz y’all *have* to be right. Your egos and immortal souls depend on it. This is why talk-radio is almost entirely conservative, and why Fox News has ratings that squash MSNBC and CNN. Fox may be trying to temper their image a bit (what with Rush’s and Hannity’s falling revenues), but the Tea Party frenzy will not abate any time soon, and that frenzy will continue to drive Reagan Democrats back to the liberal side. So don’t expect the normal mid-term opposition-party pick-ups. And brace yourself for Hillary in 2016. I hope that when this comes to pass you’ll remember that it was zrocqs that schooled you.
The great irony in the 2-party system in U.S. politics is that the Right thinks the Left is wrong, and tries to sway opinions in their favor. The Left, however, believes the Right is evil, and tries to shut them up at every turn, if not wishing them dead. Remember all the violence and rapes during OWS? I do. And do you recall all the violence and raping at the Tea Party rallies? Yeah, thought not. That sums up the Left and the Right perfectly.
Let me repeat: I don’t want to shut up any of you—I enjoy debate. However, there have been dozens of people on this site who have told me to . . . wait for it . . . shut the fuck up because my opinion differs from theirs. Because they’re so, you know, tolerant.
The Tedious Right resorts to voter suppression, gerrymandering, and cheating to stay in power. I’d rather be the good guys than these hateful, white, entitled, wealthy, spoiled brats. I have assets that I want protected, however, there is nothing on this planet, over which giving up equality can be worthy. The Republicans keep saying over and over how prudent and fiscally sound their reasonings are, and yet, when they are given power, they abuse it and the Country suffers financially for years. Bush brought our Country to the brink. Slowly, the deficit has been declining, now that a Democrat is in control. The Tedious Right cheats at every level and the Supreme Court of the U.S. attempts to help them at every turn by gutting the Voting Rights Act and allowing huge donors to fund their sleazy candidates. It will backfire on both fronts. They have awakened a sleeping giant. They can’t win because their hearts aren’t true.
The Great Gerrymander of 2012
By SAM WANG
Published: February 2, 2013 167 Comments
HAVING the first modern democracy comes with bugs. Normally we would expect more seats in Congress to go to the political party that receives more votes, but the last election confounded expectations. Democrats received 1.4 million more votes for the House of Representatives, yet Republicans won control of the House by a 234 to 201 margin. This is only the second such reversal since World War II.
Imbalance of Power
Using statistical tools that are common in fields like my own, neuroscience, I have found strong evidence that this historic aberration arises from partisan disenfranchisement. Although gerrymandering is usually thought of as a bipartisan offense, the rather asymmetrical results may surprise you.
Through artful drawing of district boundaries, it is possible to put large groups of voters on the losing side of every election. The Republican State Leadership Committee, a Washington-based political group dedicated to electing state officeholders, recently issued a progress report on Redmap, its multiyear plan to influence redistricting. The $30 million strategy consists of two steps for tilting the playing field: take over state legislatures before the decennial Census, then redraw state and Congressional districts to lock in partisan advantages. The plan was highly successful.
I have developed approaches to detect such shenanigans by looking only at election returns. To see how the sleuthing works, start with the naïve standard that the party that wins more than half the votes should get at least half the seats. In November, five states failed to clear even this low bar: Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Now let’s do something more subtle. We can calculate each state’s appropriate seat breakdown — in other words, how a Congressional delegation would be constituted if its districts were not contorted to protect a political party or an incumbent. We do this by randomly picking combinations of districts from around the United States that add up to the same statewide vote total. Like a fantasy baseball team, a delegation put together this way is not constrained by the limits of geography. On a computer, it is possible to create millions of such unbiased delegations in short order. In this way, we can ask what would happen if a state had districts that were typical of the rest of the nation.
In North Carolina, where the two-party House vote was 51 percent Democratic, 49 percent Republican, the average simulated delegation was seven Democrats and six Republicans. The actual outcome? Four Democrats, nine Republicans — a split that occurred in less than 1 percent of simulations. If districts were drawn fairly, this lopsided discrepancy would hardly ever occur.
Confounding conventional wisdom, partisan redistricting is not symmetrical between the political parties. By my seat-discrepancy criterion, 10 states are out of whack: the five I have mentioned, plus Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Illinois and Texas. Arizona was redistricted by an independent commission, Texas was a combination of Republican and federal court efforts, and Illinois was controlled by Democrats. Republicans designed the other seven maps. Both sides may do it, but one side does it more often.
Surprisingly absent from the guilty list is California, where 62 percent of the two-party vote went to Democrats and the average mock delegation of 38 Democrats and 15 Republicans exactly matched the newly elected delegation. Notably, California voters took redistricting out of legislators’ hands by creating the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.
Gerrymandering is not hard. The core technique is to jam voters likely to favor your opponents into a few throwaway districts where the other side will win lopsided victories, a strategy known as “packing.” Arrange other boundaries to win close victories, “cracking” opposition groups into many districts. Professionals use proprietary software to draw districts, but free software like Dave’s Redistricting App lets you do it from your couch.
Political scientists have identified other factors that have influenced the relationship between votes and seats in the past. Concentration of voters in urban areas can, for example, limit how districts are drawn, creating a natural packing effect. But in 2012 the net effect of intentional gerrymandering was far larger than any one factor.
We can quantify this effect using three different methods. First, Democrats would have had to win the popular vote by 7 percentage points to take control of the House the way that districts are now (assuming that votes shifted by a similar percentage across all districts). That’s an 8-point increase over what they would have had to do in 2010, and a margin that happens in only about one-third of Congressional elections.
Second, if we replace the eight partisan gerrymanders with the mock delegations from my simulations, this would lead to a seat count of 215 Democrats, 220 Republicans, give or take a few.
Third, gerrymandering is a major form of disenfranchisement. In the seven states where Republicans redrew the districts, 16.7 million votes were cast for Republicans and 16.4 million votes were cast for Democrats. This elected 73 Republicans and 34 Democrats. Given the average percentage of the vote it takes to elect representatives elsewhere in the country, that combination would normally require only 14.7 million Democratic votes. Or put another way, 1.7 million votes (16.4 minus 14.7) were effectively packed into Democratic districts and wasted.
Compared with a national total House vote of 121 million, this number is considerable. In Illinois, Democrats did the converse, wasting about 70,000 Republican votes. In both cases, the number of wasted votes dwarfs the likely effect of voter-ID laws, a Democratic concern, or of voter fraud, a Republican concern.
SOME legislators have flirted with the idea of gerrymandering the presidency itself under the guise of Electoral College reform. In one short-lived plan, Virginia State Senator Charles Carrico sponsored legislation to allocate electoral votes by Congressional district. In contrast to the current winner-take-all system, which usually elects the popular vote winner, Mr. Carrico’s proposal applied nationwide would have elected Mitt Romney, despite the fact that he won five million fewer votes than Mr. Obama. This is basically an admission of defeat by Republicans in swing states. Mr. Carrico’s constituents might well ask whether these changes serve their interests or those of the Republican National Committee.
To preserve majority rule and minority representation, redistricting must be brought into fairer balance. I propose two plans. First, let’s establish nonpartisan redistricting commissions in all 50 states. In Ohio, one such ballot measure failed in November, in part because of a poorly financed campaign. Maybe those who prodded voters to turn out could support future initiatives.
Second, we need to adopt a statistically robust judicial standard for partisan gerrymandering. In the Supreme Court’s Vieth v. Jubelirer case, in 2004, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy voted against intervention in chicanery in Pennsylvania, but left the door open for future remedies elsewhere if a clear standard could be established.
The great gerrymander of 2012 came 200 years after the first use of this curious word, which comes from the salamander-shaped districts signed into law by Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts. Gov. Gerry’s party engineered its electoral coup using paper maps and ink. But the advent of inexpensive computing and free software has placed the tools for fighting politicians who draw absurd districts into the hands of citizens like you and me.
Politicians, especially Republicans facing demographic and ideological changes in the electorate, use redistricting to cling to power. It’s up to us to take control of the process, slay the gerrymander, and put the people back in charge of what is, after all, our House.
Sam Wang is an associate professor of molecular biology and neuroscience at Princeton and the founder of the Princeton Election Consortium.
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