Liberal journalists have spilled a whole lot of ink in the Trump era, boasting how they've suffered watching a week or so of Fox News programming to explore the strange informational terrain of the Trump voter. They pompously proclaim it's television for your crazy Uncle Frank, pushing conspiracy theories for dumb people while nurturing resentment toward the elites -- meaning, of course, them.
That nasty cartoon is rebutted by the new Fox News program "Life Liberty & Levin," hosted by Mark Levin. It is more intellectual than anything produced on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN or MSNBC. Nothing they have on air comes even close. For an hour, at 10 p.m. Eastern on Sunday nights, Levin interviews one guest -- remember that? -- drilling deep to explore how the guest has worked to protect and preserve the principles of freedom. It's substance over sizzle. It serves to enlighten, not to entertain. It is serious programming, so the liberal critics have demeaned it as a "glacial slog."
It takes a nanosecond for Levin to go further than today's typically superficial television interview. He begins by reviewing his guest's biography, and viewers may learn a tidbit that immediately puts the guest's career in its proper perspective. Sen. Mike Lee, for example, is the son of former Solicitor General Rex Lee, and he gained his interest in politics by watching his father work in court. When interviewing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Levin told viewers that they graduated from the same high school in the Philadelphia area (at a different time), and that Netanyahu spent a year after college working at the same consulting firm as former Gov. Mitt Romney. With just those two introductory nuggets, Levin has transcended the claptrap one hears from the elites at CNN or MSNBC.
The series began with an interview of economics professor and columnist Walter Williams, a true icon in his field who we believe, like Thomas Sowell, has been insulted throughout his career (he's too much of a gentleman to say so himself) by so often being typecast by the media as an expert "black economist," as if that were a notable or limiting descriptor (take your pick). You doubt us? Google that term and you'll find his name. Google "economists" and you'll find a list of the top 54 economists, and he's not on it. Levin put him front and center, where he belongs. Here's a question and an answer you'll never find on the other networks: Levin asked, "Do you think liberty has the seeds of its own demise?" Williams responded by explaining how tyrants always welcome freedom of speech to get their foot in the door only to undermine others' freedom of speech.
The episode might remind older viewers of Milton Friedman interviews back in the '80s on his PBS series "Free to Choose." It will remind you of absolutely nothing on television today.
How about Levin digging into matters like the meaning of the words in the Declaration of Independence, of natural law and inalienable rights, with Hillsdale College President Dr. Larry Arnn? They discussed how progressives undermine America's founding principles, and Dr. Arnn expertly put matters in proper perspective: "(T)he first thing that happens is ... they start writing about this Declaration of Independence -- 'It was really good for the time but not relevant anymore.' ... and that won't work, by the way, because if the Declaration is false now, it was false then by its own terms, right?"
Liberals also peg Fox News as toeing the Trump line 24/7. That's certainly not true of Levin. In the last few weeks, he and several of his guests have brutally pounded on the Republican leadership for passing a 2,200-plus-page monstrosity of an omnibus spending bill, and passing it with absolutely no time for members of Congress to actually read it first (never mind debate it).
One of those guests is former Attorney General Ed Meese, Levin's old boss in the years of President Reagan. On the other hand, Meese also deemed President Trump's judicial appointments "outstanding," praising Trump for selecting judges that adhere to the Constitution, and consulting The Federalist Society and The Heritage Foundation. It's the kind of discussion those dumb conservatives want to hear and those elites don't want dumb conservatives to hear.
Millions of Americans have enjoyed Levin's books on liberty and tyranny, and now it's possible to get some of that wisdom every Sunday on cable TV. All credit should go to Fox News for daring to put a calm hour of serious talk about political philosophy on the air.
L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center.
Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.