Friday, February 7, 2014

Terror on Bullshit Mountain

One of the worst things about Republican lies is that they've got a media machine specifically set up to spread those lies.

Of course, the primary goal of Fox 'News' is undoubtedly to make money by scaring old white people (the average age of their viewers is 68, and they're even whiter than Mitt Romney supporters). But they do that by spreading Republican lies, and that's an important goal in itself for them.

The Daily Show veered off into pointing out right-wing hypocrisy, which is always fun. Note, in particular, this observation from Jon Stewart (as I say, money always come first to Fox):
Apparently, on Bullshit Mountain, corporations aren't just people, they're better people than you. Corporations are the good people, not the jackass two-legged kind who don't want to man the perfume counter at Macy's because it's 'Christmas Eve'.

But as long as we're talking about Fox 'News',  I wanted to point out this article by Frank Rich.
...Fox is in essence a retirement community.

The million or so viewers who remain fiercely loyal to the network are not, for the most part, and as some liberals still imagine, na├»ve swing voters who stumble onto Fox News under the delusion it’s a bona fide news channel and then are brainwashed by Ailes’s talking points into becoming climate-change deniers. They arrive at the channel as proud, self-selected citizens of Fox Nation and are unlikely to defect from the channel or its politics until death do them part. (As Sherman writes, “Ailes’s audience seldom watches anything” on television but Fox News.) ...

The Fox News membership is more than happy to be cocooned in an echo chamber where its own hopes and fears will be reinforced by other old white “people like us.”

All this might be true, but Rich loses me when he says this:
Rather than waste time bemoaning Fox’s bogus journalism, liberals should encourage it. The more that Fox News viewers are duped into believing that the misinformation they are fed by Ailes is fair and balanced, the more easily they can be ambushed by reality...

He points out that, though Fox is the "overwhelming leader" in cable news, that's still just a million viewers in prime time. And he adds that "there’s nothing in Fox’s viewership numbers, either in magnitude or in demographic hue, to suggest that there’s a significant number of voting-age Americans who at this point do not already know that Fox News is a GOP auxiliary and view it, hate-watch it, or avoid it accordingly."

Rich argues that we should ignore Fox, because it's already dying, and that focusing on Fox is "fighting the last war," instead of the wars to come.

But I disagree. First, we should note Fox extremism at least in part because that kind of thinking is dying. We need to demonstrate to rational Americans where faith-based thinking gets you. It's the same reason we point out the atrocities of the Taliban and the particularly loony statements of Christian dominionists.

There are better ways of thinking, better ways of determining what's true and what isn't, and the particularly crazy are good examples for our side.

Second, Fox 'News' makes a buttload of money. Therefore, it's a good example to corporations which also want to make money and to 'journalists' (loosely speaking) who want to get ahead. We can't offer responsible journalists more money, but we can make the irresponsible a laughingstock.

(Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert also make a lot of money, in part by making fun of Fox 'News.' They're comedians, not journalists, but this is still a very good thing.)

And third, neither Fox 'News' nor the Republican Party (if I'm not being redundant here) is unaware of their demographic problems, and they're not going to be complacent about letting either money or political power slip away from them.

Both will try to reinvent themselves. Heck, both are trying to reinvent themselves. Rich points out the difficulties they're facing, but that's not going to stop them. And they've got lots and lots of money to help with the attempt.

This doesn't mean we should just ignore everything else. Of course not. Libertarians are still crazy, even if they're not particularly welcomed by the conservatives who run Fox.

And progressives should definitely be focused more on the technology of the future than the technology of the past. But it's much too early to be writing obituaries for either Fox 'News' or the GOP.

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