Saturday, May 13, 2017

@#$% Fox News

The existence of Fox News has long been an annoyance--sort of like a pebble in one's shoe. Unfortunately, the collective ignorance fostered by the "news" network has had catastrophic results: the election of the colossally incompetent Trump.

Trump represents the essence of Fox News and its demographic: racist, sexist, willfully ignorant and xenophobic. For me, this has taken Fox News from mere annoyance to malignant toxicity.

Most people realize that Fox News is a mouthpiece for the Republican party: the channel was created by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who hired former Republican Party media consultant Roger Ailes as its founding CEO. There's nothing inherently wrong with Fox News having a conservative bias, but its reporting goes well beyond the purely partisan. Fox News cultivates irrational zealotry in its audience.

Long before Trump derided legitimate news sources exposing his many failings and misdeeds as "FAKE NEWS," Fox News was referred to as "Faux News." Politifact rates 59% of Fox News statements as Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire. In addition to being thoroughly biased, Fox has a long history of promoting conspiracy theories and other assorted bullshit. And it's not just that Fox is promulgating false information, studies have shown that Fox News viewers are less informed on current events than those who don't follow news at all. According to a study by PRRI and the Brookings Institute:
“It is not possible from this data to offer a precise solution to the chicken-and-egg question — whether the more important fact is that those with very conservative views are already attracted to Fox or whether Fox turns its viewers into conservatives. What is clear is that conservative are drawn to Fox, and that Fox may, in turn, reinforce and perhaps harden conservative views.”
So much for "fair and balanced." Fox News viewers might point to the inclusion of liberal commentators to support this opportunistic tagline, but let's face it: the liberals are included as a sideshow attraction or sacrificial punching bags for the conservative majority. And while we're talking about "fair and balanced," here are some other things to keep in mind:

  • If your news program promotes the notion that it's necessary to use the words "radical Islamic terrorism" as some sort of patriotic purity test, it's not "fair and balanced." There's a reason George W. Bush never used that phrase in post-9/11 speeches. The words of a president are important and carry more weight than some blithering commentator. The wrong words can cause fluctuations in the stock market or negative impact foreign relationships. Contrast Obama's measured statements with the Twitter troll now at the helm. 

  • If your news program incites the belief that there's a "War on Christmas," it's not "fair and balanced." Secular entities opting for inclusiveness during a season where over a dozen holidays are celebrated are not engaging in a war on Christmas. Starbucks opting for a plain red cup devoid of snowflakes or snowmen is not an example of a war on Christmas. It is, however, an example of conservative snowflakes and their butt-hurt feelings whining over something completely ridiculous. Fox News invented the war on Christmas. It doesn't exist in the real world.

  • If your news program has convinced you that the proper response to "Black Lives Matter" is a knee-jerk parroting of "All Live Matter!" like a perfect little "Ditto-head," then it's not fair and balance. "Black Lives Matter" does not mean "ONLY Black Live Matter," it means "Black Lives Matter, TOO." The fact that Fox wants you to be more outraged over a football player kneeling in protest during the National Anthem prior to a FOOTBALL GAME than the epidemic of black people shot by police shows how cravenly racist the channel is. Of the 354 people shot by police to-date in 2017, 90 have been black. That's over 25% for a race that only makes up 13% of the population. Protesting is not anti-American. This country was founded by protesters (remember the Boston Tea Party?) which is why it's the height of hypocrisy for Fox News viewers to feel the need to "boycott the NFL" over Kaepernick's protest while retaining the right to stage their own revolt.

  • If your news program entertains the fallacy of birtherism or the myriads of other ways our first black President was denigrated on a regular basis as part of their programming, they are not fair and balanced. It's astounding the lack of consistency Fox has had with Obama vs. Trump. Obama plays golf and goes on vacation? It's a constitutional crisis! How DARE he?!!! Trump's weekend trips to Mar-a-Lago and golfing outings every 5.7 days? Crickets.

  • If your news program ignores the consensus of 97% of climate scientists and refers to climate change as a hoax, scam or superstition, it's not "fair and balanced." Scientists are smarter than you. They've researched the data. Sean Hannity is an idiot. Trusting what Hannity or any other Fox News mouthpiece has to say on scientific phenomena? That's just stupid. I don't know what the rationale is behind not believing scientific data is--do you not want to feel guilty about not recycling or driving a gas-guzzling SUV? Or is it merely a reaction to liberals who agree with 97% of climate scientists? You'll probably be dead before the real devastation caused by climate change occurs, but your great grandchildren say "Fuck you."

  • If your news program is plagued by allegations of rampant sexism and sexual harassment, it's not "fair and balanced." To be fair, I'm sure some degree of sexism and harassment occurs at any news station, but between ousted Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly and the myriads of complaints against each, it's obvious that sexism is a large part of Fox's culture.

  • If your news program attracts an audience of vile, hate-spewing racists whose vulgar comments about Malia Obama's acceptance to Harvard that Fox was forced to remove the comments section, it's not "fair and balanced."

  • If your news program regular doctors photos and selectively edits video to smear those on the other side of the political aisle, it's not "fair and balanced. "

  • If your news program's biggest fan is the grifter-in-chief, a conspiracy theorist who's made 492 false or misleading claims in his first 100 days as president--many of which he got from Fox New, it's not "fair and balanced."
Any one of these things should have been enough for a rational human being to switch channels in disgust. For the sake of sanity--and humanity, it might be time to get your news from another source. Maybe watch a program that provides actual "news" rather than one that merely validates your bigotry. Maybe read a Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper rather than watching a news program that's never even won an Emmy.

Our country depends on it.

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