10 Feb 2012

Who Will Watch Freedom Now?

Conspiracy 42 Comments

I have been at an insurance conference since Wednesday night and haven’t had time to look into this much, but anyway Fox has canceled Judge Napolitano’s show FreedomWatch. Lew Rockwell gives contact information if you want to tell someone at Fox your feelings about this move.

Does anyone have objective ratings information? Obviously many of us are suspicious of the motivations for this move, but I’m wondering if there are hard numbers? Surely that information must be out there, for purposes of advertising.

If people feel like having a discussion, here’s a topic: In the long run what’s better? To have guys like Napolitano and Stossel keep Fox from being completely neoconservative, or just to start over in a new venue and have libertarians stop watching Fox altogether?

(BTW I should note that from a completely selfish perspective, this announcement troubles me since I was a frequent guest on Napolitano’s show.)

42 Responses to “Who Will Watch Freedom Now?”

  1. Chris says:

    It’s easy for everyone to cry foul but once you read the press release it lists 3 shows being cancelled. So its not like Fox is picking solely on Judge Nap. Their goal in creating Fox Business was to compete directly with CNBC. However, CNBC wipes the floor with FBN. So, the strategy now is to increase live coverage of the markets which is something that Judge Nap’s show never really did. His show was more about politics/policy than markets and finance.

    As much as I hate to see the show go I understand the business side of things. No, it wasn’t a ratings issue per se, but more or less a change in vision for the network. Though I can’t speak on the other shows ratings.

  2. Chris says:

    It should also be noted that FBN has hired Melissa Francis (former CNBC host) to host her own show covering the markets. They have already hired several former CNBC employees in the past.

    Again, shows a change in direction moreso than a conspiracy to silence the Judge (though I’m sure for Fox it’s killing 2 birds with 1 stone)

  3. Joseph Fetz says:

    I don’t know that a comparison between Napolitano and Stossel is fair, I certainly give more credence in Nap’s judgement than I do Stossel’s.

    To be completely honest, I stopped watching television about 8 years ago (right around the time of my first WestPac). Anything that I see coming from either of these guys is through online sources, and I cannot tell you the what the “feel” or “progression” of their shows are. What I do know is that Napolitano is far more logical and educated in his commentary, whereas I still see Stossel as a “talking head” newscaster.

    I would agree with your friend Dr. Thomas Woods in that what is portrayed in the media will ultimately be a difference between a narrow spectrum of Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney (two sides of the same coin), and I do not discount that it is this particular dynamic that got Napolitano taken off of the air– his politics were outside of the norm. Basically, they’ve got to keep their little ducks in a row, and somebody like Napolitano (and, his guests) pose a challenge to the status quo.

    Does Stossel challenge the status quo? Absolutely! But he does so at the detriment to the case for freedom. He is a newscaster who is simply not a learned man (IMO). I’ve seen him make some absolutely sophomoric errors in his reasoning and approach to both the political philosophy that he maintains, as well as that of his economics; so much so that I simply think that he leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those who might be on the fence politically regarding such issues. This particular characteristic does not seem to be a proclivity of Andrew Napolitano; he is quite learned and understands the theories of which he is speaking. He certainly isn’t always correct, but he at least has a grasp upon the theoretical/historical principles of his position and he can fully explain them.

    If I were to offer a guess, I would say that the GOP is attempting a political and ideological cleansing, to rid their “team” of the libertarian influence that has become quite prevalent in contemporary politics. I guess that if I were a modern-American conservative with some sort of influence upon such things, I would probably have cancelled Napolitano’s show, as well. After all, his show certainly wasn’t promulgating the values of neo-conservative beliefs.

    • visose says:

      I don’t think Stossel is not “learned” enough, specially for a tv show host. You probably don’t agree with him as much because his sources tend to be more Chicago school oriented, instead of Austrian school like Napolitano.

      So it’s not that he is not informed enough in the subject, it’s just that, at least from your point of view, is not hanging in the right circles.

      He also tends to invite people from a broader ideological spectrum and tries to dumb down his arguments to make it more palatable to the general public, hopefully that will make his show last a bit longer.

      • Joseph Fetz says:

        Please do not pin me as a closed-minded person who blindly follows ideology. Sure, I am a libertarian, but I am not some sort of ‘Mises.org’ fanboy.

        If you want my real opinion, I believe that Stossel is the product of the mainstream, that he is following a trend for his own benefit, and that he couldn’t give two shits about a particular philosophy.

        Sure, I have agreed with some of his work, but I don’t trust his mustachioed ass as far as I can throw him. If anybody were to present swiss cheese for the natural rights position, it would be him.

        • visose says:

          I don’t think your perception of Stossel is accurate. He has been making libertarian and contrarian tv journalism for decades, when it was not cool at all. He is the anti-trends guy.
          I agree though that he is doing it for his own benefit, him being a rational actor and all that.

        • John says:

          Joseph you have no idea what you’re talking about. You might as well be a fanboy.

          Do you honestly think Stossel is “following a trend” with his programming? Give me a break. He’s the only one reporting on the things he does and presenting the sides he does.

          The guy won 19 Emmys following the mainstream early in his career and when he finally wised up and started covering consumer issues from a libertarian perspective he hasn’t won a mainstream anything. Yes he’s been lucky enough to find a way to be successful while following his own ideology, but I cannot imagine where he would be now if he followed the mainstream like the follower you claim he is.

          He’d have had his own show on a broadcast network, on primetime television probably a decade ago. He’d be as much of a household name as “Diane Sawyer” or “Larry King”.

          • Joseph Fetz says:

            I do not trust the guy and I have seen him make some pretty big errors in logic. That’s my opinion and you probably aren’t going to change it any time soon.

            Granted, I don’t know enough about Napolitano to trust him, but from what I have seen he is a far more knowledgeable man when it comes to the issues that he discusses (i.e. he doesn’t sound like he’s regurgitating an article that he read in Reason).

            The point is that it is my opinion that they are not intellectually comparable regardless of the topic under discussion (i.e. my opinion isn’t limited to libertarianism).

          • Joseph Fetz says:

            Also, I couldn’t care less whether either of them have a television show, because that is not a medium that interests me. Nor do I care about their accolades, because such things do not influence me. When I make a judgement upon the character of a talking head I ask myself two basic questions: Is the person trustworthy and do they have a deep understanding of what it is that they are discussing? On these two questions it is my opinion that Nap scores far higher than Stossel.

  4. John says:

    I completely disagree that Stossel leaves a bad taste in the mouth of people on the fence. I think it would be the exact opposite, and it is Napolitano who would turn people off (or at least scare them off) whereas Stossel would bring people in.

    I can understand how Stossel might leave a bad taste in YOUR mouth, as he does seem to be more Chicago School oriented and he’s definitely not ancap. But his being more mainstream (albeit only slightly in the grand scheme of things) is quite possibly what allows him to make points in a very neutral-sounding way, making people consider a lot of things in ways they hadn’t thought before..regardless of their political affiliation.

    I think Stossel’s approach allows him to appeal to a wider spectrum of everyday Americans, and he is able to introduce libertarian ideas in a very concrete and relatable way.

    Napolitano has plenty of his own faults as well. He has a real problem referring to “liberals on the left, and libertarians on the right”. And he doesn’t have a great grasp on the best ways to relate the ideas to a layman audience (but this is not an uncommon problem among libertarians as far “north” on the political spectrum as he is.) When he talks about legal matters, he’s right on (as would be expected).

    But when he ventures elsewhere, it gets a bit murky. His interview with Jon Stewart from October comes to mind. I’m sure the vast majority of Daily Show viewers came away thinking he was a nut.

    I think Napolitano just fills a different role. We need them both. And more like them.

    (Napolitano on Daily Show:
    http://www.thedailyshow.com/extended-interviews/400881/playlist_tds_extended_andrew_napolitano/400853 )

  5. Josh Hanson says:

    From what I’ve seen, it wasn’t an issue of ratings within Fox Business Channel for Freedom Watch, but an issue of ratings for Fox Business Channel in general. Freedom Watch wasn’t the only show canceled, and it appears that they were freeing up primetime space for their three most popular shows to be rebroadcast to try to bring in viewers who weren’t able to catch them in their earlier airings. There’s nothing I’ve seen in it that really appears that this was an anti-freedom move (although it wouldn’t surprise me if it played a role).

  6. MamMoTh says:

    If dropping that dreadful show makes you guys stop your uneducated nonsense about mathematics, I fully support it.

    • Bob Roddis says:

      The MMTers originally started out as a really bad joke with their religious-like belief in the abolition of the law of scarcity and government bonds as “savings“. They are oblivious to the concepts of human exchange, economic calculation and Cantillon Effects and lack even a modicum of knowledge about Public Choice concerns. They seem genuinely shocked that the US government, which has assumed the plenary economic power that the MMTers so desperately worship, has been hijacked by banksters.

      But now, in their stupidity and deep, deep ignorance, they have gone too far. Guys like Bob Murphy and Tom Woods are responsible for the coming police state! Who knew?

      Sounds like the FBI may be concerned about Ron Paul’s campaign supporters [ 😉 ] or perhaps more generally they are concerned about extreme Libertarians of the Right from a law enforcement perspective.

      This is where ignorance about our modern monetary systems can lead: extremism, threats of violence, and accordingly, surveillance. I’m sure many (but probably not all the “hard cases”) of these people would not be driven to this form of anti-social behavior and rebellion if they could see their way into the MMT paradigm and truly reach an understanding of how our monetary system operates.

      It’s really a shame, and many so-called “experts” that these people listen to are very much to blame for provoking these heavy handed policies.


      They’ve obviously lost the “debate” with us (which they never bothered to join in the first place) and are now left with nothing other than doing this.

      • MamMoTh says:

        They’ve obviously lost the “debate” with us (which they never bothered to join in the first place)

        Another gem!

        Pity you didn’t join the crowd on the maths thread. Your expertise on multiples of 0 would have been a great contribution to the most surreal debate since Murphy introduced us to coconuts economics.

        • Bob Roddis says:

          Right. Whenever someone gets caught spending counterfeit currency they printed up in their basement, everyone knows there is no crime unless and until the prosecution creates a detailed chart (using “maths”) showing exactly what, if anything, the rest of society lost to the counterfeiters.

        • Dan says:

          Did Warren Mosler write that for you or does he just write your theoretical posts and you handle the insults?

          • MamMoTh says:

            I can take care of your face whenever you want. Or are you another coward like Major_Chicken?

            • Bob Murphy says:

              Guys, seriously, is this going to happen on every blog post? I think He-Man once explained at the end of an episode, that it takes more courage to walk away from a fight.

              • MamMoTh says:

                And he was known as She-Man since then.

              • skylien says:

                Just for the record:

                “The fact is, fighting never proves anything. Trying to find a peaceful way to settle a problem is usually the best way. And if someone calls you a ‘coward’ or a ‘chicken,’ don’t let it worry you. If often takes more courage not to fight.”

              • Bob Murphy says:

                See you next time!

    • Major_Freedom says:

      The plagiarist actually believes he is in a position of moral or intellectual authority.

      Guaranteed if he starts yammering on about mathematics, the only thing we’ll see is copy pasted quotes.

      What Mammy actually knows isn’t enough to fill the children’s trivia game on a Burger King paper placemat.

      • MamMoTh says:

        Did you submit your paper on action based mathematics you joker? I’m eager to read it! Good fun is so scarce… ,

        • Major_Freedom says:

          Aww, the unoriginal plagiarist wants to live vicariously through others.

  7. Bob Roddis says:

    Fox wants to make sure that nobody understands Kaneezian Economics.


  8. Bob Roddis says:

    I’m not sure this cancellation is the worst thing in the world. When I got my latest cable package, I declined the upgrade that includes Fox Business because I don’t think Freedom Watch was worth it. Fox never let Judge Napolitano lord over the show like they allow the vile O’Reilly to lord over his show. The Judge was always stuck with a vast posse of low level statist twerps as described by Ilana Mercer just a week ago:

    Sadly, I no longer watch the loud bluster on Freedom Watch, unless Lew Rockwell, always calm and Rothbardian, graces the show. The volume level, the Paul worship (such aggressive allegiance to any politician creeps me out), and the dueling perspectives political panels (featuring horrible, boring truth deniers like Nancy Skinner, Caroline Heldman, Tara Dowdell, Carl Jeffers, Joe Sibila, Erika Payne) are pure torture.

    Besides, when an anchor introduces his regulars (and boy are they day-in, and day-out fixtures) as “my good friend (Kirstin Powers),” or as “friend of the show,” it smacks of buddy-buddy influence peddling, not of an honest pursuit of ideas. Don’t get me wrong: I appreciate the work done on Freedom Watch to popularize constitutional principles among the masses, but it has become more like the other cable personality centered ego-driven shoutfests. And, of course, the regular robots from Reason Magazine, representing “Libertarianism Lite,” are tiresome.


    Napolitano was allegedly Fox’s “chief legal expert” but he has not been on O’Reilly or Hannity’s shows in ages. Being on Fox meant that Napolitano was never in a position to critique the purveyors of the biggest anti-freedom lies of them all, O’Reilly, Hannity and Fox itself.

  9. John Becker says:

    I think libertarians are a part of the base of the republican party and it would be much better to have them included in the mix. It’s a bit like running for a third party nomination, it doesn’t do much to promote liberty because the audience is too limited. People promoting libertarian friendly idea want them to reach as many people as possible and having a mainstream venue like Fox is very helpful for that.

  10. Jonathan M.F. Catalán says:

    I have an obviously serious question. Why do Fox commentators that libertarians like (more or less), like Judge and Glenn Beck, always so loud?

      • chris says:

        I would be cautious in calling Glenn Beck a Libertarian. Just because people say they are one doesn’t by default make them so. His inability to understand how monetary policy and foreign policy go hand in hand is troublesome. To me GB is about as Libertarian as Mitt Romney is conservative.

        • chris says:

          I just realized you didn’t actually call GB a Libertarian but the assumption is there. Either way modern Libertarians love GB but they are a disgrace to true Libertarians. He’s nothing more than a profiteer.I don’t buy that GB was excused from Fox. I believe he wanted out to start his own network. More $$ by doing it that way.

          • Jonathan M.F. Catalán says:

            Actually, I said “that libertarians like” because I assumed someone would make the comment that Beck is not libertarian — which, I agree, he is not libertarian.

      • Dan says:

        I second Chris on calling Glenn Beck a libertarian. Conservatives seem to like him and may call him a libertarian but that tends to be because they have no clue what a libertarian is. For example, my girlfriend’s dad, who is a brainwashed neocon is a big Beck fan. He thought that Beck was a libertarian and follower of free market economics while Ron Paul and I were socialists. I had to take a half hour explaining to him my economic views, although he should have known them from the numerous other conversations I’ve had with him. He now understands that I’m in favor of free markets (too radically for his tastes) but we part ways completely on foreign policy. That should give you an idea of the minds that consider Beck to be a libertarian. They also think Ron Paul is some wacko socialist.

    • James E. Miller says:

      Simple Jonathan, they need to be heard over their warmongering and economically ignorant peers. But like chris said, Beck is hardly a libertarian considering his devotion to protecting Israel at all costs including bombing Iran. Sure he gives Paul a venue sometimes but still falls under the neoconservative spell and really seems to be in it for the money.

      • Bob Roddis says:

        I was thinking that Beck was canned because he was almost right once in a while even though he was wrong much of the time. One of his themes was Wilson as the first (and evil) progressive president. Can’t have that stuff getting around especially when our foreign policy is Wilsonian.

      • Jonathan M.F. Catalán says:

        I didn’t mean figuratively loud; I meant literally loud. They all like to shout.

        • James E. Miller says:

          Yeah, I can see what you mean about Beck and the Judge being loud sometimes, but I think most pundits in their position are loud when debating those who they disagree with. See Bill O’Reilly for instance. Though the Judge sometimes goes a bit overboard on tone, I don’t see him as really straying from the pack of his peers like Hannity and Ed Schultz. Stossel on the other hand is relatively quite and calm; which actually sets him apart from the rest.

          And Beck markets his bombastic personality- hence his overly dramatic language and tone.

          If you ever want to see a real expert at being an incredibly loud and annoying pundit, watch Eleanor Clift on the McLaughlin Group (if it’s still on that is- I’m not sure) sometime. Her personality and tone practically make your ears bleed.

  11. Tom E. Snyder says:

    To answer your question, door #2.

  12. Matthew Murphy says:

    I would like to think all this is so the Judge is cleared to run for Vice President.

  13. Matthew Murphy says:

    Actually, I understand they want something more business oriented. Very sensible. The solution is Freedom Watch, hosted by Peter Schiff. With Bob Murphy as the back up host.

    • KP says:

      Just what’s needed, more yelling.

  14. Daniel says:

    My vote is that libertarians have a better venue than Fox. The only reason I ever watched it was for the Judge and Stossel. It’s fascinating that the comments on this post devolved into attacks on Austrian economics. I never would have guessed.

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