If FOX truly reported news accurately, would its current defenders remain true believers?
FOX NEWS: Channelling the spirit of Ted Baxter
As a progressive, I fancy myself as a person who not only relishes, but respects a well-thought out and forthright challenge to my point of view. I also consider it important to attempt to understand what drives the philosophy of the conservative movement. At one time, I presumed that Fox News Channel would be a network overflowing with valid expressions of the conservative perspective. I anticipated that it would eventually become a primary resource for furthering my knowledge in that area.
However, I eventually found that wallowing through a steady stream of Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity distortions; partaking in the shell-shocked lunacy of Ollie North; of bearing witness to G. Gordon Liddy's "crazy uncle in the basement" shtick; or sitting through far too many sessions of disingenuous faux punditry from a collection of insipid political "analysts" known as the Fox All-Stars -- to be a collective experience that does very little to help one obtain a better understanding of conservative principles.
Although I originally tuned in to the Fox News Channel seeking further insight into the conservative philosophy, unfortunately what I found was not genuine compare and contrast viewpoints designed to give validity to that which comprises conservative thinking, but instead a nearly continuous stream of very thoughtfully-crafted distortions of alternative points of view.
Over time it became evident that a desire for greater recognition of conservative thought could not be fulfilled by Fox. Eventually, a conclusion was reached that whatever it is that Fox is "selling" is not true conservatism. At least I hope it isn't.
But what was even worse was the rapid discovery that Fox News Channel's reputation for distorting news and committing "errors" that always seem to negatively impact groups supporting positions opposed by the GOP, is certainly not the result of something as minor as incompetence within the Fox News editing department's quality control unit. What emerged was an inescapable presumption that it is all likelihood intentional.
The Obama Administration is absolutely right about the Fox News Channel (FNC), the problem is that the White House didn't go far enough when it described the network -- established by Richard Nixon's former media consultant -- as an arm of the GOP. What it ignored noting is that FNC is also a cult comprised of devotees of conservative points of view that are often so extreme that they cross the boundaries of fantasy and delusion.
I'm reminded of a segment in an early episode of The Simpsons during which Homer, while driving, glances into his rear view mirror just in time to notice an out-of-control vehicle heading directly towards him. He screams briefly, but quickly addresses his dilemma in the most simplistic of ways: by promptly adjusting the mirror until it reflects a more tranquil scene. Only then does Homer breathe a "you're doing a heck of a job" kind of sigh of relief.
In so many ways, that scene seems to aptly sum up the personality of the die-hard Fox News Channel viewer. If you are a news junkie addicted to crackpot journalism laced with deception, distortion, thoughtless, knee-jerk patriotism and of late, high-octane, over-the-top Obama hating, then the network built by Republican political consultant Roger Ailes to be a part of Rupert Murdoch's worldwide multi-media cartel is truly your drug of choice. Truly, the only thing missing from this outfit is Kent Brockman.
Jon Stewart offers fake news for 30 minutes five nights a week; the Fox News Channel kicks it out 24-7. The difference is, Fox is audacious enough to claim it provides "real" news that is "fair and balanced." Yet, we all know who's viewers have been polled as better informed. For those who don't, it's Stewart's.
It's been said that relying on Fox as your only source of information is like using Mad Magazine as a legitimate news source. Quite frankly, as news organizations go, Fox News Channel represents the genre's toy department.
Far more than simple advocacy journalism, Fox News Channel is intellectual dopamine for those inclined to adjust the mirror on life's harsher truths rather than turn around and face them, be it the neo-con deception that drove the nation to war with Iraq, the notion that America would be better off if George W. Bush was still president, or the conviction that Bush's former FEMA Director Michael D. Brown did, in fact, do "a heck of a job" during Hurricane Katrina.
By and large, Fox News' most supportive viewers share an impenetrable belief that a rightward slant in news delivery assures factual credibility. They are unflinchingly convinced that any information that is sourced from the "liberal" media is unlikely to rise above unsubstantiated, unpatriotic "socialist" dogma.