Fox Corp. board member Paul Ryan on Thursday lamented “polarization” and the “entertainment” wing of the Republican Party, conveniently ignoring the role Fox News has played in the problem.
The former U.S. House speaker appeared Thursday morning on CNBC’s Squawk Box, where he was asked by host Becky Quaid why Congress cannot seem to agree on common-sense gun safety policies.
“That’s not new,” Ryan replied. “What is new is in this sort of 21st century digital age. Polarization is obviously rampant in America, but it comes to Congress.”
Ryan suggested that while, in the past, lawmakers were elected for their ability to legislate, both the Republican and Democratic parties have been sidetracked by “entertainers” looking to make a brand for themselves.
“We have an entertainment wing of the House of the Republican and Democratic Party,” Ryan said. “The old meritocracy that takes 10, 20 years to climb of being a good policymaker? You can just leapfrog that whole process, be a really good entertainer, have an incredible presence digital, and forget about policymaking and curate a brand for yourself. And so you have entertainers in Congress now.”
Ryan joined the board of directors for Fox Corporation, the parent company of Fox News, in 2019, just two months after he left Congress. Neither the ex-congressman nor CNBC mentioned Ryan’s affiliation with Fox News, which, as The Washington Post noted last month, “has a grip on political leaders that has no peer elsewhere” and incentivizes lawmakers to gear their rhetoric towards the network’s infotainment needs.
Nevertheless, that unsaid connection did not stop Ryan from presenting himself as above it all throughout the interview.
“When I decided to become speaker, which actually wasn’t my goal, I knew I was capping myself politically but that was fine. I was okay with that. Because I knew the job requires consensus dealmaking,” he said. “But that is bad for a brand, that is bad if you are going to entertain, if you’re going to try and show that you’re better than everybody else within your own ecosystem.”