Political Animal


January 31, 2013 11:12 AM Powers Project Report

By Ed Kilgore

So yesterday I said I’d watch Kirsten Powers on Fox News when I could and judge from experience myself whether she seems to be the faux Democrat indicated in some of her written columns. I may have missed a Powers appearance (having Fox News on in the background can eventually produce an indistinguishable buzz the mind blocks out), but the two brief segments I saw were a mixed bag.

During a lunch-time segment, Powers was asked about the Democratic reaction to the 4th quarter GDP drop announced yesterday, and was shown a video of Sen. Mary Landrieu denouncing the idea of nondefense discretionary spending being “out of control” as a talking point invented by Fox News. Powers rebuked Landrieu for her shot at Fox; twice expressed her personal opinion that “of course” spending is “out of control;” and then answered the original question (accurately) by reporting that Democrats generally think spending cuts are contributing to the economic slowdown.

Last night Powers was briefly a guest on Bill O’Reilly’s show during a discussion of handgun regulation by cities, and got into an argument with the host based on his weird insistence that there’s no difference between the newsgathering and editorial functions of the New York Times, before eventually breaking through his bluster to make the point that people in cities with handgun restrictions can buy guns easily in nearby jurisdictions.

In these extremely limited samples, Powers does not seem to be playing aggrieved-Democrat-who-always-happens-to-agree-with-Republicans, but is instead (partly as a reflection of the strange Fox format where it’s not always clear whether “guests” are reporting or editorializing) reporting what Democrats are saying or doing with occasional interjections of her own somewhat unpredictable (other than her white-hot hostility to anyone who criticizes Fox!) opinions. It’s a weird role she is playing in the generally weird (to me, anyway) Fox context, but I can’t say she’s feeding a right-wing propaganda line in any consistent way.

I’ll probably have another report tomorrow.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on January 31, 2013 11:20 AM:

    Uhm, Ed, you told her you'd be watching her.

    And, in psychology, it's well known that observation affects behavior.

    Even in scientific experiments, it's well known that observation can affect results in some cases, if the observation itself isn't carefull factored out.

    Isn't is just possible, then, that for a few days, to re-establish some sort of sense of being a non-hack, that she would change her approach - with the approval of some higher-ups at FOX, I'd assume.

  • howard on January 31, 2013 11:43 AM:

    anyone who agrees that spending is "out of control" is an idiot, period, case closed, nothing left to say.

  • max on January 31, 2013 11:52 AM:

    OK, so she's a Bluedog or Conservadem.

    but I can’t say she’s feeding a right-wing propaganda line in any consistent way.

    If I read the TNR article right, Joe Trippi is playing the same role, which appears to be to act as an inoffensive substitute for a Democrat. The Washington Generals role, in other words, which allows everyone watching to say they've bested D arguments. Or something like that. (It may be that any R's on MSNBC wind up playing the same role.)

    ['Almost makes me miss (old, classic) Crossfire.']

  • David Patin on January 31, 2013 12:21 PM:

    I once tried to watch a Hannity and Holmes to see if Holmes was actually making good arguments. After 30 seconds it was just too dumb and I had to turn it off. Good luck with your project.

  • jim filyaw on January 31, 2013 1:09 PM:

    i suppose its possible that the preacher's wife could take the greeter's job in the local cathouse and retain her virtue, but something about it just isn't right.

  • Gangis Khan on January 31, 2013 1:27 PM:

    The overarching question is whether or not Powers represents the mainstream of the Democratic party. She shows a right-wing Dem denying that spending out of control, asserts the opposite, then admits that her own position is well to the right of party as a whole.

    So I think that settles the overarching question. Beyond that, who believes for a second that Fox hires any person for any reason but to make the right look good? Roger Ailes could offer Rachel Maddow twice what she's making on MSNBC, and if he gave her full editorial independence, she might take him up on it. I don't think such an offer will be forthcoming, though. It goes against both the agenda and the business model.

  • CharlieM on January 31, 2013 2:46 PM:

    Of course she'd feeding the right wing propganda line. She's a token. And like any token, her job is to give the rest of that cesspit a veneer of legitimacy and respectability.
    It's why she defends Fox so vociferously. Because not to would be to admit her own duplicity in what's going on.
    If Kirsten wants to be considered as a legitimate voice, she should start by working for a legitimate organization.

  • Peter C on January 31, 2013 4:50 PM:

    I'd say the line, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks" applies (except for the 'lady' part, perhaps).