Strange fruit: Joshua Bell on Fox News

Strange fruit: Joshua Bell on Fox News


norman lebrecht

December 18, 2013

Aside from the usual motives, did the violinist not pause to reflect for a moment on the company he keeps? In terms of its appreciation of truth and beauty, this network is darkness at noon. Perhaps he’s on a mission to convert the irredeemable. Watch here, and wonder.


joshua bell fox news



  • Donald Wright says:

    Trust me, I’m not advocating any news network. But I find that those who bash Fox are usually unaware of how many people from the Left are regulars on the network: people like Juan Williams, Kirsten Powers, and Bob Beckel, for whom the Left can do no wrong. To me it seems more like a network of loudmouths, predominantly, admittedly, of the Right.

  • Kenneth Conway says:

    Juan Williams (aka, “Wan Williams”) is “from the left”? Funny.

    • Well, when Fox started using Mara Liasson as a regular guest, it was so they could claim to have a liberal (She *must* be a liberal, right? She’s a political reporter for NPR!), showing them to be “fair and balanced”.

      The only problem with that is that Ms. Liasson is a registered Republican.

  • I have yet to find anyone referred to as people “for whom the Left can do no wrong” or as the left-wing’s “Messiah” who are actually regarded as such by any significant number of liberals.

  • Hasbeen says:

    Fox News is is a ‘news entertainment’ cable channel. It’s right wing orientation is no worse than MSNBC’s “liberal orientation’ as a ‘news entertainment’ channel. Both channels make no secret of their political leanings.

    • Uh…no.

      MSNBC certainly has, in its commentary, a left-wing orientation, but they don’t lie in their news reporting.

      • Abe Simpson says:

        They don’t lie – but may omit including any specific examples to back up a claim, like you just did.

      • Brian says:

        Except when they edited Zimmerman’s 911 call to make it appear that he had said something he hadn’t and they were forced (supposedly) to fire the producer. Or when Rachel Maddow framed vets with deceptively edited video. Or virtually anything Al Sharpton puts on the air; or Ed Schultz taking contributions from unions he reports on; or airs false Limbaugh quotes; or claiming Bill OReilly had never been to Soweto., etc. etc. Let’s not even get into the charm and civility of Martin Bashir. But, hey, if you like your cable news channel, you can keep it. Period.

    • peggy says:

      One has to question the intelligence level of those who write “It’s” when they mean “its.”

      • Abe Simpson says:

        Peggy, isn’t it more important to question someone who arbitrarily focuses on someone’s spelling mistake as to hide the fact that they have nothing to contribute a conversation?

      • Mare says:

        A bit of a pretentious comment on your part perhaps… I don’t agree with the writer above but to question someone’s intelligence due to a fairly common grammatical error is a bit over the top.

        • MWnyc says:

          As often as not it isn’t even a real grammatical error; it’s a typo, a slip of the fingers.

          In those cases the fault lies simply in not proofreading your post before hitting the submit button, and that’s a mistake every one of us makes sooner or later.

  • gerald brennan says:

    Not everyone who reads you is a leftest. Why alienate?

    You’re at your very best when you stick to music. Why we should care about your opinions on unrelated matters eludes, believe it — not only me. I’m just the one taking the trouble to write, because you’re worth it.

    “Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.” — Willy the Shake.

    • The idea that art is (or ought to be) somehow separate from politics is absurd. It’s a mirror of society, and if Mr. Lebrecht wants to opine on political issues, he is certainly free to do so on his own blog, just as we are free to disagree with his opinions, or to read elsewhere.

      • Abe Simpson says:

        The ‘art’ in question did not contain any politics, as Gerald was saying, they were added in this article, and that’s his point. As someone who doesn’t understand the fish-in-barrel sport of making fun of Fox watchers, I lost a few respect points for Lebrecht here as well.

        • The fact that he appeared on Fox implies an endorsement and, hence, a political statement.

          • Abe Simpson says:

            By that logic, Jon Stewart and Marilyn Manson also endorse Fox News. If you think it’s absurd for art and politics to be separate, god I would hate to have your record collection.

          • Donald Wright says:

            Barack Obama has also appeared on Fox News, interviewed by Bill O’Reilly. By your logic, Jeffrey, that implies that Obama endorses the network too! Sorry; but it’s clear that some here are merely repeating what they’ve heard elsewhere from others who likewise are ignorant of the network. Again, I’m not endorsing Fox or any other network. But I am reminded of the old adage that people who live in glass houses, etc.–those who deplore lies that they imagine to have heard from others might wish to desist from spreading lies and innuendo themselves.

            But I agree completely with those who say that lies, lies, lies have been heard on Fox News. A few that immediately come to mind are: “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan; if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor; every family’s healthcare costs will decrease by $2500 per year; I’ll close Guantánamo within one year.”

          • Brian says:


      • Greg Hlatky says:

        Just as no sensible person listens to the artistic opinions of politicians, no sensible person listens to the political opinions of artists.

  • Brian says:

    Bell is clearly making a play for the Red State, Southern audiences that also watch swimsuit competitions and listen to country music. Just look at his recent activities. There is a certain poetic justice though: Those who have had to work with him in media/professional settings know that the Fox producers had their hands full.

  • David Boxwell says:

    He had a more appreciative audience when he was playing in the DC Metro.

  • JJC says:

    Or perhaps Josh’s segment is just too pure and wholesome for MSNBC…

  • I thought “Dancing with the Stars” had marked the nadir, but apparently there’s even more bottom of the barrel at the bottom of the barrel.

  • John Nemaric says:


    “Silent Night” !!!

    From the TV News network that tries very hard to silence dissent?

    Is Joshua their new Prince of Darkness?

    They like to collect them just to show…what?

    Good luck for us all in the new shape of things to come…

  • Kyle says:

    The guy played “Silent Night” a week before Christmas. Why are we even talking about it? What seems way over-the-line is comparing playing a Christmas song on FOX News to racism and lynchings by referencing “Strange Fruit.” That is beyond the pale.

    • Abe Simpson says:

      Agreed, “Strange Fruit” was a pretty hasty and lazy allusion. Frankly, I’m just surprised no one’s compared anyone to Hitler yet.

  • Pete says:

    Hmmm, Did I somehow miss Mr. Bell performing on CBS, NBC, CNBS, National “public” radio, or PMSNBC?

    Didn’t think so.

    • You put “public” in quotes as if that somehow meant something.

      • Pete says:

        I usually refer to NPR as National Socialists Radio.

      • JJC says:

        I would put it in quotes too. It means a lot. A very substantial percentage of the population, a majority, including many of us working musicians, are not on board with, and are actively opposed to the nonsense and outright propaganda that comes from NPR. I’ll expand that to NBC, CBS, ABC, NY Times, I think you get the idea. The drumbeat of hysterical histrionics whenever FNN is mentioned is curious but reveals much about the protesters.

        • NPR presents all sides of the issues. It’s “propaganda” only to those who think that a broadcast is “liberal” it it doesn’t air strictly the right-wing point-of-view.

        • Uh…no. NPR tries to provide all sides of every issue. It’s “propaganda” only to those who regard a broadcaster as “liberal” if if doesn’t air an exclusively right-wing point-of-view and who define “fair and balanced” as “gives equal time to the right-wing and the far-right-wing.”

  • V.Lind says:

    Mr. Brennan’s comment suggests Mr. Lebrecht is a “leftest.” Should he therefore stop writing for Standpoint?

  • You mean a music performer focused on…wait for it…MUSIC? Like, without any political agenda-music?

    Well, now you’re just talking crazy. o_O

  • Andrew says:

    I think that people who read this blog do not realize how many of the people who attend and donate to classical music identify with the conservative world view of FOX News over that of other liberal sources. If we continue to ignore our audiences feelings, we will continue to lose our audience of stalwarts.

  • Why must you politicize music? Nothing wrong with Joshua Bell playing on any channel anywhere. Since he was on Huckabee, and the Gov is a strong advocate for music education, you should be applauding this, not being snarky because you don’t like Fox News. I can’t stand MSNBC but I would welcome any good musician to their channel.

  • cindy says:

    Hey, hey, let’s not allow this “violinist-appearing-on-right-wing-US-republican-television” business to distract us from the important social work of hounding Gergiev for his political affiliations.

    • Well, of course, there’s a difference between “criticizing him for his support of a cruel, discriminatory policy” and “hounding Gergiev for his political affiliations”, but maybe no one else will notice that.

  • stanley cohen says:

    As a Englishman living now in Jerusalem I have not the foggiest idea what all of the comments relating to the political orientation of diverse American channels have in relation to a delightful young and competent choir accompanying one of the world’s finest violinists playing a beautiful carol the week before Xmas. Added to this the fact that I am both an experienced singer and an orthodox Jew who enjoys good music where and whenever it is performed, I think many of you need a dose of fresh air and realism in your lives.

    In other words, in this season of goodwill to all, get a life!

  • Doug says:

    So Fox News has vastly higher number of viewers than all the alphabet networks put together [including that sycophantic joke, MSNBC] and Bell wants to access the multitude of viewers, and you want to bash him? No wonder classical music is on the decline!

    • No. I’d rather bash a network that lies and lies and lies until it cannot tell fact from fantasy. What’s an honest musician doing there?

      • Abe Simpson says:

        Performing, most likely.

      • Brian says:

        Care to enlighten us with particulars, Mr. Lebrecht? I cited some of MSNBC’s taradiddles above. Have we heard from you on Mr. Obama’s oft-repeated lies and deceptions concerning the ACA which have harmed millions of unsuspecting people? Should he be again invited to play at the White House should Mr. Bell decline? Bit of a double standard going, I’d say.

      • gerald brennan says:


        If you want to bash and bash like this you should be prepared to offer some evidence and examples. This is so harsh and offensive to so many of your avid supporters (of which I am one) that you should be prepared to back it up. Otherwise, please just let it go.

      • Greg Hlatky says:

        Any specific examples of these “lies”? Or is “lies” the term you use for any perspective beyond those held by the Acela-corridor media bubble?

        Progressive types aren’t amazed that others may have opinions differing from theirs, they’re amazed that other opinions even exist.

      • Klapping a couple of honest Federal Reserve Notes from some honest media types. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. When you’ve emptied all the water. And they’re flopping around in a confused pile at the bottom.

      • David H. says:

        Maybe the same like someone who is calling for women to be promoted for the fact that they carry two X chromosomes, rather than for their competence?

      • JJC says:

        Norman, I love ‘ya man, but I must say that FNN is the only network in this country that goes anywhere near the truth. We may not like it, but we can’t avoid it.

    • Not exactly. Fox’s number were greater than those of all the other cable networks combined, but not the broadcast networks.

      …And, either way, it’s irrelevant; no matter how many people believe a lie, it’s still a lie.

  • Hasbeen says:

    Norman, they all distort, are selective and economical with the truth. The guy is promoting his latest album in prime time. Are you so selective in where you promote your books ? Do you reject book tours in countries that have dubious records on human rights ? Come on, give the guy a break, Republicans like music too and might buy a CD or 2…

  • Chas Reskin says:

    There’s certainly nothing wrong with reaching out to those whose ideas may differ. Or perhaps bringing a taste of culture to the Philistines…? It was a refreshing arrangement tastefully and beautifully played. And there was a lot of ethnic diversity in the many-colored scarf-wearing choir. Coincidence? Hmm…

  • Mary Alice Chambers says:

    Norm – the left wing tone of assumed superiority gets old, quickly.

  • MacroV says:

    I don’t like Fox at all, but let the man go into the lions’ den. Appearing on the network isn’t necessarily an endorsement of its approach.

  • But the point is not ideological (it really is irrelevant whether you regard Remocrats or Demopublicans as being ‘better’, since they are ideologically aligned on the economy and foreign policy): the point is that here is Mr. Bell-of-the-Baseball-Cap running on the treadmill which powers the machine which lights up all the sparkly lights which make the recorded medium so seductive, and which thereby renders street music invisible.

  • David Irwin says:

    Probably just the usual publicity with no thought to the fact he would be among reptiles.

  • Glenn Amer says:

    Silly me, I thought appearing on television was still called ‘publicity’.

    In this day and age when the only music on TV seems to be pop, I always take the opportunity to appear on any network (I’m in Australia), that will still show anything that is remotely classical in nature.

    The guy probably just wanted to sell a few more CDs. Doesn’t everybody?

  • m2n2k says:

    In my opinion, Fox IS fair and balanced, but from a conservative point of view, which is more than can be said of many on the left who insist that such pov does not exist or that it has no legitimacy. Vilifying each other is not going to solve anything. There are fine well-meaning people on both sides and civilized dialogue between them is the only way to move forward. As for JB appearing on Fox, several commenters above pointed out correctly that so did many left-of-center personalities including the POTUS himself. Kudos to JB for being more open-minded than some, and of course for beautiful violin playing too.