Fox News Continues Obamacare Distortion

Fox Not NewsI was talking to my father the other day about Obamacare. He is a fairly typical conservative in that his opinions change like a pinball. Sometimes he is quite liberal, but let Fox News work on him for a few minutes and he’ll reverse course. In fact, I can generally determine what it is that Fox News is pushing by the changes in his opinions. About a year ago, out of the blue, he decided that Obamacare was too complicated. Why oh why couldn’t we just have had a simple law like Medicare for all?! He didn’t put it quite that way, but that was the substance of it. I told him the truth: because conservatives like him wouldn’t stand for such a law; Obamacare was an attempt for liberals to get along with conservatives; and the liberals got paid back with fake outrage about the bill being some kind of socialist plot. I did not mention that liberals also got paid back by conservatives like him complaining that the law was too complicated and claiming that they would have been just find with a single-payer system.

Up until last week, my father seemed to have made peace with the new healthcare law. But such acceptance could not withstand the 57 segments that Fox News did this week on Jonathan Gruber’s statement about the law being designed so the CBO didn’t score it as tax. According to Fox News that meant that the Democrats had lied to the American people. It’s very annoying, because the entire right wing echo chamber is being disingenuous. Did we not talk for years about the tax penalties for people not getting insurance? What exactly did the Democrats slip by us?

So Fox News is all over this and now my father thinks that Obamacare is some kind of secret plot to get everyone dependent upon the government. I find the whole thing exhausting. And this is why I don’t much talk to my father about politics. It isn’t that I can’t convince him of things. But the one hour of Fox News he watches each day would require that I spend at least two hours every day to counter. The truth of the matter is that Fox News is very good at what it does. The hosts and producers know all my father’s prejudices and they feed him disinformation based on it. Watching Fox News is the intellectual and emotional equivalent of slipping into a warm bath.

Meanwhile, there are actual facts about Obamacare. In addition to all the active disinformation, Fox News acts as a kind of information filter. If there is bad news about the law, it will be reported on Fox News — and often. But if there is good news about it, it simply won’t be reported except in passing at the beginning of Special Report with Bret Baier (the show my father watches). It certainly won’t be discussed by the “Fox All-Star Panel.” And we had some good news on Obamacare yesterday.

Frank Newport at Gallup reported, Newly Insured Through Exchanges Give Coverage Good Marks. A recent poll found that people getting insurance on the new exchanges are roughly as happy with their coverage and price as people getting it through their employers. Of the newly insured, 71% rated their coverage good or excellent — compared to 72% of everyone who is insured. But you won’t be hearing about that on Fox News.

It is much easier to rant about how the American people were lied to and that the evil liberals are trying to make everyone dependent upon the government. My father is almost 82 years old. You know: the typical Fox News viewer. And he sees himself as fiercely independent. Of course, he is entirely dependent on the government. He is on Social Security, with very little personal savings. And he gets his healthcare from the VA who take amazingly good care of him. But government dependence is terrible! For other people. Apparently. Because that’s what Charles Krauthammer and George Will and Fred Barnes tell him on 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.

2 thoughts on “Fox News Continues Obamacare Distortion

  1. “But the one hour of Fox News he watches each day would require that I spend at least two hours every day to counter.”

    A few years back, I was at the funeral of a disabled person’s mother. His brother, a small business owner in rural Wisconsin, was there, and was going off while we waited for the priest to show up about how great Scott Walker was for busting those pampered state unions.

    The brother is a fairly nice guy, and I had a pretty good rapport with him, so I started countering the anti-union stuff. I mentioned how our work taking care of disabled people like his brother, while not unionized, was state-funded. How demeaning unionized state workers hurts the pay of non-union state workers. And how keeping salaries low has made the employment pool for helping disabled people get shittier and shittier. (When I started working at that profession, most of my fellow workers were college students. Now fully half are deadbeats hoping to file disability claims.)

    I could tell I was getting through to the guy. He doesn’t want the people who take care of his disabled brother to be underpaid. And just as we were about to have a talk about how this meant Walker was a colossal ass, the priest showed up. End of discussion.

    It took me fifteen minutes to start to break through what fifteen seconds of right-wing propaganda can emblazon in a person’s mind. And what, I’m sure, a person hears from others in their social group. There’s a reason large urban centers tend to be more liberal than rural areas, and it’s not because traffic broadens the mind. Having more contact with different perspectives does, or at least can.

    It does feel at times like every nudge we give to the rock, it rolls back ten feet.

    • My experience with that, however, is that if you were to talk to the guy a month later, he would have been back to where he started. It is as though people have a political equilibrium. You can push them away from it, but it takes enormous effort and once the force (your argument) is released, they fall back into their equilibrium.

      I believe that most of the reason that urban areas are more liberal is simply fear and loathing. People in lightly populated homogeneous areas can vilify “those” people. And this fear and loathing of “the other” is the basis of all conservative beliefs. And that means that the US has an absolutely perfect political system to keep us constantly stunted with policies that are decades behind other countries. If the US ever becomes a poor country, expect it to regress to providing the death penalty for homosexuality and burning atheists at the stake.

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