A little while back, I argued that conservative institutions like the Heritage Foundation and the fascist American Legislative Exchange Counsel were dangerous enemies of progress. However, in the final instance, it’s fair to say that over the last twenty years, no organization in the country has done more damage to the progressive movement and American society in general than Fox News.
I can sit here and write about all the Fox News controversies, scandals, hypocrisies, false news reports, and conspiracy theories spread by the network and its staff, but that information is readily available at places like Media Matters. I’d rather tell you all how we got here and what we can do about it.
Fox News channel was originally created by Rupert Murdoch back in 1996. The Australian-American media mogul then hired former Republican Party media consultant and CNBC executive Roger Ailes as its founding CEO. With the Fairness Doctrine no longer being enforced, the Network soon became the conservative mouthpiece of the Republican Party that it is today.
To start, the main driving force behind Fox News was to make money, not simply report the news as the nightly news programs of the day had done. This was achieved with nightly opinion spots with prominent conservatives and a very corporate-friendly attitude to their sponsors.
Fox’s ratings came from telling conservatives what they wanted to hear. It was a network designed to cater specifically to them, even if it meant bending the truth or outright lying, which they’ve done in spades. Fox has even been known to create the news themselves out of thin air while suppressing the real stories.
I still remember the story about a local Florida Fox station that wanted to hide their own reporter’s findings regarding the health risks associated with Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone. In short, the reporter was fired for not falsifying the story to protect Monsanto.
When the reporter sued, Fox’s lawyers argued that under the First Amendment, broadcasters have the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on public airwaves…Fox won.
That story was back in 2003, just as Fox News surged in popularity thanks to its gung-ho attitude and coverage of George W. Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq. While most of the media did the country a disservice with its coverage in the run-up to the war, no one profited off it more than Fox News.
The pro-war, anti-Muslim conservatives flocked to the show in droves. It didn’t matter what lies were used by the Bush Administration to get us into the war. When the administration changed the narrative to fit its self-serving needs, Fox News changed the story to go along with it.
Fox New’s slogan for the longest time has been “Fair and Balanced.” Rupert Murdoch once said that Fox News has “given room to both sides, whereas only one side had it before.” What conservatives and some liberals don’t understand is that the news only has one side; the truth or some may call it “facts.” The other side of the truth, of course, is false or as some may call it “fake.”
By taking the “other side” of the news, Fox News Channel is making its viewers less informed. In other words, stupid. Researchers at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey concluded in 2012 that Fox News viewers were less informed than people who watched no news at all.
Fox News can be seen at any given time in a hundred million American households. While most Americans never bother to tune in, those that do live in an information bubble where truth and common sense is hard to find. Because of this bubble, I would argue that Fox News is the main reason behind the hyper-partisanship we find in Washington and the rest of the country.
Over the years, conservatives have gone further to the right in line with Fox News’ reporting. Nothing seemed to have pushed them further than having to report on America’s first black president. Today, the Fox News bubble has gotten so bad that the most unpopular presidential candidate in American history can win an election.
That same bubble helps him maintain a 40% approval rating, despite the racism, the tweets, the misogyny, and all things Russian. Let’s not forget his own Fox News induced ignorance and stupidity. In this regard, Donald Trump is a product of Fox News in more ways than one. We now have Fox News’ biggest cheerleader in the White House claiming everything else to be fake news when he himself has been brainwashed by it the most.
There isn’t much we can do about Fox News, its reporting or its information bubble. Love it or hate it, the first amendment protects Fox News’ right to lie and mislead the public. It’s up to the mainstream media to fact check not just our politicians, but other news organizations as well. Unfortunately, the mainstream press has followed Fox’s example and put profit in front of quality. They have even covered some of Fox’s manufactured stories.
The only thing left to do is follow Jello Biafra’s advice as I did when he said “Don’t hate the media, become the media.”
Support corporate free, independent media.