Fox News Liberal
A Fox News Liberal is a character who allegedly provides political balance in the narrative but who in practice, at best, ends up parroting the Golden Mean Fallacy. They can be presented as the Only Sane Man in their party, and their criticisms of said party can also evoke from those in the prevailing party that "See? Even this die-hard conservative/liberal thinks that their party has gone way too far and become way too extreme. *sigh* If only the rest of their party could be as reasonable as they are, they wouldn't be in such bad shape". In particularly extreme versions of this trope, the character forsakes their own beliefs as a means of Character Development, claiming their party line has "gone too far".
There are some arguable real-life politicians who fall into this (most obviously the Fox News Liberals from which this trope gains its name or counterpart MSNBC Conservatives), but suffice to say, Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment is in effect.
See also- Informed Attribute.
- Icon from Milestone Comics was created by a Black liberal writer as a supposed Black conservative. However, the in-story reason for him being a conservative is that he was born in the days of slavery when the Republicans were on the anti-slavery side and in modern times his sidekick started convincing him that conservatism is bad for the poor. This doesn't exactly fit the definition, but it approaches it. It's as if the writer wanted to put a conservative in, but as the trope description says, couldn't think of any way for a reasonable person to be one today. This is a complicated example, as "liberals" and "conservatives" of 150 years ago share very few traits with their counterparts of today except for the names, not to mention that he's a two-century-old alien ex-slave and probably wouldn't think like a modern human anyway.
- The abysmal DCU: Decisions election issues were designed around superheroes expressing political opinions about the 2008 election. The problem was that all of the Presidential candidates were fictional and there was no real sense of anything they stood for. Green Arrow seemed to be voting for the Green Party and Lois Lane SEEMED to be Republican (or possibly a Libertarian?) but everyone else's opinion was just obtuse. In the end it seemed to come to a conservative-leaning writer (Bill Willingham) and a liberal-leaning writer (Judd Winick) picking heroes like they were choosing players for their kickball team. Needless to say, the whole story caused a Flame War. Green Arrow's (left wing) and Hawkman's (right wing) political views were already well-established for years, but the idea of ascribing definite political views to all the other characters resulted in fans hysterically fighting over which characters "should" or "shouldn't" belong to which party.
- Similar to the above is Senator Laine Hanson from the film The Contender. Hanson is nominated for VP by a Democratic President and considerable hay is made of the fact that she is a former Republican who contends that the party 'left her' by moving too far to the right. Yet she is an outspoken atheist with a public disdain for religion (which was probably intended to be seen as honest and brave, but which is so clearly intolerant it makes her seem like a frothing bigot), a staunch believer in gun control, pro-choice on abortion, and completely against the death penalty... views that wouldn't have had a chance in the GOP within her political career.
- In State of Fear, the hero is a good guy who starts out believing in global warming and is shown the error of his ways, but that pretty much everyone else who does is either stupid or evil.
- Julia Shumway, the Republican editor of the newspaper in Stephen King's Under the Dome, is considered by some to be the conservative version of a Fox News Liberal. On the one hand, she doesn't talk about politics at all, and the only reason to believe that she is a Republican is because the author says she is. On the other hand, almost no one (who is sane) mentions politics at all because, well, they're trapped under a dome, and sometimes little things like that have to take precedence.
- Cessy from Empire is one of these; she is a housewife who, at one point in the novel even provides a biblical case for militarism in American foreign policy. At no point does she express any liberal views other than to remind the audience, every few pages, of how liberal she is. Needless to say, she is the only self-described liberal in the book who is not an evil, craven plotter out to destroy America.
Live Action TV
- The West Wing
- Ainsley Hayes, the Trope Namer for Blonde Republican Sex Kitten (BRSK with an extra bit of Southern "y'all", BTW). Presented, at first, as a strong Republican that had previously been a member of the Federalist Society and could smack around expert liberal debaters, she quickly lost or strongly downplayed her initial displeasure about pork-barrel politics, gun control, and what she saw as unnecessary legislation. Her quick decision to leave gun control off the discussion table in response to a politician's attempted assassination is a particular moment, coming as it does from a Ronald Reagan Republican.
- Arnold Vinick, the Republican presidential nominee in the final season, is so moderate that the real-life Republican party would probably never accept him. He's pro-choice, not at all religious, and in much of the U.S., would be considered closer to a Democrat than a Republican.
- But justified in that in California, his home state, he would be considered conservative.
- In fact, pretty much any Republican character whom the audience is supposed to like and respect gradually becomes one of these if they're around long enough. One particular exception is Speaker of the House and Acting President Glenallen Walken, who proves to be a competent president and reasonably likable man of integrity despite also being clearly depicted as a conservative Republican and military hawk. However, he was only around for three episodes, it's possible this wasn't intentional and in any case, he was played by John Goodman, which goes a long way. For that matter, nearly everyone who appears on the show and is to the left of the main characters seems to literally adopt the characteristics that Fox News associates with liberals: they are, almost to a person, shrill, mean-spirited, short-sighted, and egocentric. This is especially notable in any episode dealing with free trade, where opponents of free trade always get portrayed as hypocrites, grandstanders, or idiots. Basically, the door swings both ways: if Aaron Sorkin disagrees with you, you're either a nut or a meanie, and it doesn't matter what side of the political spectrum you fall on.
- The French Police show P.J has Chloé Matthieu, who is a Fox News fascist—she starts as a member of a far right Police Syndicate, her uncle ran a election for a far-right party (not named, but probably this real life party), she seems to hate anything and anyone having a common point with Arabs, Muslims, human being with dark skin, homosexuals... Yet she manage to become good friend with Muslims and/or black policemen, has a child with a black man, work part time in a lesbian bar, asked a bisexual colleague to help her take care of her child when she has to work late and implicitly admits than most of her opinions are bogus. It can however be seen as character development, since this comes progressively during the show, and losing her prejudices actually makes her a competent cop.
- Entertainment Weekly editor Mark Harris wrote an article about this, specifically naming Harriet Hayes of Studio 60 and Kitty Walker of Brothers and Sisters.
- The Trope Namer: Many American liberals feel like most or all liberals who appear on Fox News Channel fall into this category. Alan Colmes, formerly of Hannity and Colmes, was usually held up as the prime example. Al Franken, in his book Lies (And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them), always printed Colmes' name in a tiny font as a reference to this.
- That's the exact same way many American conservatives feel about most or all liberals who appear on MSNBC. Either they're timid and prone to agreeing with the other side (Scarborough), possibly enough to get their overt approval as someone "they should listen to" (Scarborough can fall here), get fired by them (Buchanan), or are handpicked and singled out to make their side look bad, in their point of view. Both sides can potentially be capable of this.
- Pretty much every other liberal who appears on Fox is accused of this at least at times, and likewise conservatives who appear on MSNBC.
- The farthest fringes of any ideology, of course, tend to see anyone on their side who's not frothing at the mouth as this.
- Another related trait notably common amongst the political fringe is obsessive paranoia. For example, the main American Holocaust denial peddlers split in The Eighties due to "Jewish infiltration." An infamous trait of the farthest left in Britain during the pre-Thatcher years was their mutual hatred of each other (parodied with the various Judean resistance movements in Monty Python's Life of Brian), with accusations of "reactionary infiltration" "Stalinism" and "betraying the working class" flying around. Especially controversial was taking any kind of assistance or direction from the USSR.
- Liberal blogs sometimes disparagingly use the phrase "even-the-liberal" to refer to these people, as in "even the liberal Alice believes [conservative position]."
- Similarly, conservative blogs disparagingly use the phrase "even-the-conservative" to refer to people like this, like "even 'rational conservative' Bob believes [liberal position]."
- A conservative or a liberal Republican who appears on CNN, MSNBC or PBS is also called a Very Serious Person (VSP). This RationalWiki article identifies who these VSPs are, their characteristics and policy positions.
- And of course, even on the most biased show, the "opposition" voices come in several flavors. Sometimes it's a wimp who ends up agreeing with the host, but just as often it's a crazed Straw Man who makes his whole side look bad. And sometimes it really is an often representative of the other side--but folks on the other side may feel like he must be a sellout, or why would he be on that show/network in the first place?
- or the other extreme, foam-flecked lunatics who make all the people on their side look bad