A lot of people are saddened that Judge Andrew Napolitano’s Freedom Watch will be airing its last show tonight (Monday, Feb 13) on the Fox Business Network. The judge is being pushed into a lesser role at the media behemoth as the Rupert Murdoch owned cable channel retools itself to be more business-oriented. Top executives have been ordered to sweep all political content back over to Fox News, sending a strong signal that the days of FBN being a libertarian haven are coming to an end.
Back in October, a leaked memo from FBN exec Kevin Magee foretold the bad news, “I’ve been asked to remind you all again that they are separate channels and the more we make FBN look like FNC the more of a disservice we do to ourselves.”
“There is always going to be overlap between economics and politics, but we need to maintain two separate services,” Magee said. “We can cover the political angle, but our focus should be on our charter of gaining and producing wealth.”
Reuters went on to report that an unnamed source insists the marching orders go all the way to the top, “Rupert wants a competing news network to CNBC, not another Fox News.”
Napolitano, who is the first high-profile libertarian victim of the primetime political purge, will remain with Fox as an occasional expert commentator for other shows. Yet clearly this is will be a greatly reduced visibility for Napolitano from the pinnacle of his success — when Glenn Beck offered to let him take over his time slot on FNC.
Did anyone honestly think this libertarian relationship with the economic arm of the NewsCorp empire would really last?
Another question remains to be answered: How much will this impact Ron Paul’s news coverage on FBN? Napolitano’s friendliness has no doubt been a boon to the campaign and this may signal a larger policy shift by NewsCorp to silence Paul’s brand of economic libertarianism.
It’s fitting that they officially break up the show right before Valentine’s Day.
UPDATE: Napolitano has taken to his facebook wall to ask his fans not to badger Fox News over the cancellation, “This cancellation–along with others that accompanied it–was the result of a business judgment here, and is completely unrelated to the FreedomWatch message. It would make a world of a difference for all of us, if you would KINDLY STOP SENDING EMAILS TO FOX.”
Libertarians are nothing if not the most vocal critics out there. But seriously: who actually places outraged calls to Fox News any more? Noobs.
photo credit: Gage Skidmore