Fox News Is Destroying Democracy

Fox Not NewsI just watched the end of today’s Special Report with Bret Baier. For those not familiar, the show ends with a discussion amongst commentators. The star is Charles Krauthammer. And it is clear why he is such a big deal among conservatives. Compared to the knee jerk Obama haters, he comes off like a fucking sage. Baier himself stays above the fray. This allows him to say, at the end of show, immediately after the commentators, “That’s Special Report for this time, please tune us in next time, and in the meantime, more news is on the way—fair, balanced and unafraid.”

The other two commentators were Weekly Standard columnist Stephen Hayes and then some blond female commentator. (It’s hard to keep them straight on Fox News!) What was most evident with them was how they were against whatever Obama did. Most of the segment was about how Obama gave a “political” speech about how we shouldn’t shut the government down when the Navy Yard shooting had not worked itself out of media’s focus. It was really amazing because there is absolutely no doubt that whatever Obama said or did or did not say or did not do, they would have complained. But not to worry, because it was “fair, balanced, and unafraid.”

Watching a little of what used to be Shepard Smith’s show, I was amazed at the unrelenting negative tone about everything going on in the country. It isn’t that I don’t largely agree with the feeling. But the not at all subtle subtext was, “Things suck because of that Kenyan socialist in the White House!” There are other aspects of the slanting of the news. In particular, there is simply the choice of what stories to run. If you don’t normally watch Fox News, you really should do it now and then. Stories that aren’t even in the mainstream press are huge and stories that are huge in the mainstream press don’t even get covered on Fox.

Whenever Bill O’Reilly comes on The Daily Show, he claims that Fox News is “fair and balanced” when it comes to the “straight news” guys like Baier and Smith. And Jon Stewart lets him get away with it! The reality is just the opposite. At least the “opinion” shows are explicitly that. The “straight news” shows are supposedly objective but they are 100% pernicious propaganda 100% of the time.

I have often been inclined to think that Fox News doesn’t matter. After all, it is only preaching to the choir. But it really does do a lot of damage. It makes people (mostly old) reflexively conservative. It trains people to not only suspect the government but also any media outlet that isn’t explicitly conservative. I see it on this website. I work very hard to at least understand all sides of the issues. But I get commenters who have clearly only ever gotten information from conservative radio, blogs, and television. For example, there are loads of people around who are sure that inflation is being misreported because they’ve seen the price of milk increase. These are probably not idiots, but they are people who have been conditioned to believe that there is only one Truth and that truth comes from the likes of Fox News.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Fox News Is Destroying Democracy

  1. And the tone. I remember being bothered by it the first time I heard Limbaugh. Not just that "liberals" are wrong, or deluded, but that they’re the enemy, trying to destroy everything real Americans hold dear. It’s not dissimilar to how I feel about Republican (and some Democrat!) politicians, but I feel that way about very few people who vote Republican.

    Limbaugh’s (and Gingrich’s, and eventually’s Fox’s) tone was proto-fascist from the very beginning. It set up a fictional, all-powerful enemy for demonization (an enemy that hasn’t been in power since LBJ’s day — or maybe Nixon’s!)

    If talk radio and Fox had confined themselves to pointing out flaws and foibles in liberal politicians, or the "mainstream media," their effect would not have been nearly as corrosive. But then that would have involved pretending to be about fact-checking and citizen oversight of government, a pretense that wouldn’t have convinced very many audience members. Manufactured outrage was always the point, and remains so.

  2. @JMF – What’s annoying is that conservatives think that liberal intellectuals are this great threat to America, but the actual power elite who are overwhelmingly conservatives are not. Noam Chomsky is destroying the nation, but David Koch is just a friend of democracy.

    And speaking of the actual voters, I’m willing to admit that liberals tend to be a little naive. But conservatives are more than likely to be angry at things they really don’t understand. I’d rather be naive than hateful.

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