How Fox News and Friends Made Conservative Media a Joke.
America’s media is not in a good place. Polarization still has a tight grip on voters. Normally, it would be refreshing to see so many individuals actually committed to a cause. In reality, however, the perceptions and political beliefs of a large number of Americans are un-realistically split to opposite sides of what has generally been (with a few historical exceptions) a pretty balanced spectrum.
The terrifyingly successful Fox News franchise, among others, has helped to make American media (on both sides) into a pathetic joke. The conservative media, in particular, is plagued by a lack of commitment to providing the recipient with real facts. Instead, those who watch Fox and read the works of popular conservative writers, like Ann Coulter, are literally being brainwashed into the stars and stripes of the American ignorance-bubble.
Bill O’Reilly projects himself out into the public as a balanced, old school conservative who isn’t afraid to pull any punches. While this is, in many ways, true, Bill O’Reilly is still a huge part of the problem. Sources formerly inside Fox News tend to paint a picture of an anchor wholly absorbed in his own personal ego.
The corporate structure of Fox News has been billed as a way for the market to choose its own “fair” and “balanced” stories, and for its anchors, like Bill (who also managed to get himself a producer credit), to choose their own guests, as well as to spin things however they choose. Once again, however, an inside source says that O’Reilly was almost constantly at war, not only with the second floor, but also with the other shows, as well for certain guests.
Bill’s ego is what drives this conflict, which also erupts over his choice of angle when covering any story that does not always tow the party line. Joe Muto writes in his ‘inside’ scoop article that when trying to work with O’Reilly, “It’s often simpler to let him believe something erroneously than it is to correct him.” This gets right to the point. The problem with Bill is that he doesn’t listen; he is by no means stupid. He often repeats things on the air that aren’t true even after being told by his staff that they aren’t. He will not allow himself to believe that he can be wrong.
In the Fox universe, everyone (whether or not it is intended) feels obligated, in some way, to stay fast to the company line. This is simply a by-product of the way that the company is structured. This brings us to Sean Hannity, with whom Mr. O’Reilly so amicably plays catch with as they hand off shows to one another on the air.
They seem friendly, however under the surface Bill and Sean fight daily over everything imaginable. The main source of conflict between them? Allegiance to the company. Hannity is the true-blue boy of Fox News, with the well-maintained hairdo. Bill is the stone-wall renegade who will swear allegiance to none other than his reflection in the mirror.
The problem with Mr. Hannity is much different than Bill’s narcissism, it is his willingness to prostitute himself to the Fox media monstrosity. Make no mistake about it, Hannity is no simpleton, he is a slave to the media who will alter any of his values at the drop of a hat if his corporate masters deem it necessary. This is why the balanced conservative-leaning media of yesteryear is dead, people like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly who (for whatever reason) pervert the information transfer system that we have set in place.
But wait, the best has been saved for last.
Easily the most witless sycophant in the conservative world, Ann Coulter has proven herself again and again to be entirely incapable of logical real-world analysis. In spite of this, her books continue to sell. Each of them has been given an “edgy” title. Examples of these include: Godless, Demonic: How the Liberal Mob is Endangering America, Treason, Never Trust a Liberal Over 3, If Democrats Had Any Brains They’d be Republicans.
The important thing to notice is that the shock value of the title makes the things she says controversial and, therefore, interesting; this is exactly what she wants. The books themselves contain nothing related in any way to the universe that most humans inhabit, all that sells is a title and a name. Coulter’s problem is much the same as with Bill, Narcissism.
All else aside, people actually read and, more importantly, believe the things she writes. This horrifying thought is made worse when one realizes that Ann Coulter is only one defective, deformed arm of the giant, gnarled weed that has become the conservative media. Even when the wet blanket of Fox News invites her for an interview, and spoon-feeds her questions so that she can publicize her next book, she cannot keep her mask of knowing on.
On the O’Reilly Factor, in May of 2010, she fully demonstrated this in an exchange with Bill. She stated, “You will find liberals always rooting for savages against civilization.” To this Bill replied with his all-too-standard analogy, “They didn’t root for the Nazis against civilization.” Then Ms. Coulter showed her complete lack of knowledge not only of American history but also the topic she introduced in the first place. She replied, “Oh yes they did. … It was only when Hitler invaded their precious Soviet Union that at the last minute they came in and suddenly started saying oh no, now you have to fight Hitler.” (Ann Coulter, “The O’Reilly Factor,” May 7, 2010)
When commenting on the murder of Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller, Coulter once again displayed an utter lack of both contextual common sense, and any understanding of common decency. She said, “I don’t really like to think of it as a murder. It was terminating Tiller in the 203rd trimester. … I am personally opposed to shooting abortionists, but I don’t want to impose my moral values on others.” (FOX News interview, June 22, 2009)
The outrage machine created by Fox News is geared towards anything and everything deemed marketable by the Fox executives and Rupert Murdoch. Simple issues (or so we thought) suddenly become problems of national security, and those opposed to the radical right view propagated by the network become “un-American” and “un-patriotic.”
The machine’s arms leave no stone un-turned in manufacturing anger at a fuzzily-defined notion of “liberal”. The term might just as well be “those terrorists who hate America” for the angle from which the network presents them. Everything down to the types of advertising sold shows the careful observer how this machine works.
An anchor will come onto a segment, give a short introduction mentioning that Israel is constantly on the brink of destruction and that Democrats are destroying the US dollar, then the ads will run. They will be asking for aid to the starving children in Israel. Another ad will run telling retired Americans to spend their life savings on gold because it’s a “conservative” investment (obviously reassuring as the man in the ad is a white middle-aged, Christian male riding a horse).
This machine feeds itself through the fear, anger, and stress of millions of ignorant (not necessarily by choice) Americans who deserve better from their media. Instead, they have been sucked up into the turbines and ground to a pulp (metaphorically).
Is it any wonder that so many are completely incensed when they hear the words Fox News?
These individuals have utterly crushed what political media was supposed to be. Seeing the wasteland that it has become offers few clues as to what comes next. One thing is certain, America’s media has hit near, if not total rock-bottom, if Fox News is considered to be the “most trusted name in news”.