AT a time when awards in the humanities are a near-monopoly of the left -- Nobel peace prizes awarded to those, from Yasir Arafat to Jimmy Carter, who give the most succor to the forces of terror and tyranny; Pulitzers given to whichever newspaper can expose the more damaging national-security secrets -- it is important for there to be an award to recognize and encourage journalism and, more generally, political thinking of a different kind.
In that respect, there should be a special award for Fox News. Fox has done a great service to the American polity -- single-handedly breaking up the intellectual and ideological monopoly that for decades exerted hegemony (to use a favorite lefty cliché) over the broadcast media.
I said some years ago that the genius of Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes was to have discovered a niche market in American broadcasting -- half the American people. The reason Fox News has thrived and grown is because it offers a vibrant and honest alternative to those who could not abide yet another day of the news delivered to them beneath layer after layer of often undisguised liberalism.
What Fox did is not just create a venue for alternative opinion. It created an alternate reality.
A few years ago, I was on a radio show with a well-known political reporter who lamented the loss of a pristine past in which the whole country could agree on what the facts were, even if they disagreed on how to interpret and act upon them. All that was gone now. The country had become so fractured we couldn't even agree on what reality was. What she meant was that the day in which the front page of The New York Times was given scriptural authority everywhere was gone, shattered by the rise of Fox News.
What left me slack-jawed was the fact that she, like the cohort of mainstream journalists she represented so perfectly, was so ideologically blinkered that she could not fathom the plain fact that the liberal media were presenting the news and the world through a particular lens. The idea that it was particular, and that there might be competing ones, perhaps even superior ones, was beyond her ken.
That's why Fox News is so resented. It altered the intellectual and ideological landscape of America. It gave not only voice but also legitimacy to a worldview that had been utterly excluded from the mainstream media.
I'm proud to be part of this televised apostasy. And particularly proud to be part of the single best news program on American television, the six-o'clock news -- first with Brit Hume, now with Bret Baier. How good is "Special Report"? So good that even if I weren't on it, my mother would watch it -- and she spent 50 years as a Democrat.
Now, there is something in my past I think I should clear up right now: I was once a speechwriter for Walter Mondale. How do I explain that?Easy. Being born one generation too late, working for Mondale was the closest I could get to being a Trotskyite -- which, as you all know, is the royal road to neoconservatism.
On a slightly more serious autobiographical note: When I left psychiatry to start writing, I did so not out of any regret for the seven years I had spent in medicine -- years that I treasure for deepening and broadening my sensibilities -- but because I felt history happening outside the examining-room door.
That history was being shaped by a war of ideas and I wanted to be in the arena. Not for its own sake. I enjoy intellectual combat, but I don't live for it. I wanted to be in the arena because some things matter, some things need to be said, some things need to be defended.
That is the why I'm here. But it does not tell you the how. The how is very simple. My award, my achievements, my entire career as a journalist are owed to one person. I share this prize with the one who not just encouraged and launched me in this endeavor, but who has sustained me all these many years -- my dear wife, Robyn. Thank you.