Most of those chortling over Tom Ricks’s highly unusual ninety seconds on Fox News this week were wowed by the way he spoke liberal truth to conservative power, informing his astonished interviewer, Jon Scott, that the Sept. 11 tragedy at the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, had been “hyped” for political reasons, especially by … Fox itself. Then, for an encore, he apprised viewers that their preferred news source “functions as a wing of the Republican Party.” Out came the cane, and off went Ricks.
But that was no mere partisan smackdown; it was more subversive than that, and even more bracing. Because as it turns out, Ricks doesn’t want to play on either the red or the blue team, and has no loftier view of Obama-cheering MSNBC than of Obama-jeering Fox.
When I talked to him Tuesday, he said yeah, actually, he had had some other TV invites, but we shouldn’t waste too much time clicking around looking for his next appearance: “MSNBC invited me, but I said, ‘You’re just like Fox, but not as good at it.’ They wrote back and said, ‘Thank you for your candor.’”
In the derriere-kissing capital of the Western world, little could be less orthodox than indifference to the allure of smiling into the camera, earpiece in place. So the sight of someone going full Will McAvoy on air, letting ‘er rip just like on Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom,” was a mighty refreshing one, and we should hope his plain speaking catches on.