Fox News: Trust, distrust and control

Kevin Drum highlights an extreme, but unsurprising, result from a recent Public Policy Polling survey on trust and TV news:

Among Republicans, as [this] chart shows, the shape of the river is simple: they don’t trust anyone except Fox News, who they adore. These numbers are spreads, with NBC, for example, garnering 17-percent trust vs. 69-percent distrust. Fox News, conversely, garners 73-percent trust vs. 17-percent trust.

Well, you say, maybe this just means that trust in the media is really low these days? Nope. Democrats and Independents may not trust Fox, but they do trust everyone else. The percentages vary, with more skepticism toward some outlets than others, but what non-Republicans don’t do is simply dismiss television news en masse as a bunch of lying corporate shills.

Steve Benen quotes the pollster’s analysis — “Democrats trust everything but Fox. Republicans don’t trust anything but Fox.” — and notes, correctly, that this is “epistemic closure.”

That’s by design. For Fox News, epistemic closure is a feature, not a bug.

This poll is evidence that Fox’s central message has reached its intended audience. That message is: “Trust no one except us.” Not the other networks. Not the newspapers. Not science or government or most churches. Not books or libraries or magazines. Not artists, teachers, universities or experts. Not your own five senses. Not reality. Only trust Fox News — everyone else is lying to you.

It’s not all that different from the way abusive husbands try to cut off their wives from all friends, acquaintances and co-workers to create total dependence and control that they can exploit.

If you can’t muster the honesty and accuracy that would earn your audience’s trust, then the next best thing, I suppose, is to convince them to distrust everyone and everything else.

[Edit: Initial version of this post didn’t make it clear that the second paragraph quoted from Kevin Drum was part of that quote.]

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  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    This is one of the downsides to Alvin Toffler’s conceptualization of the The Third Wave, which is the society that Canada, the USA and Western Europe have been evolving into, with Eastern Europe, Asia and South America closely following.

    One thing Toffler posited would be an increasing diversification in our society to the point where we would, in effect, create our own worlds of information – tailored to us.

    The downside is that more and more people begin talking past each other rather than with each other, and the end result – clusters of people who share similar information-worlds become so attuned only to particular information sources that multiple realities, almost, begin to emerge that are fundamentally in contradiction to one another.

    And to a political system still not entirely attuned to the Third Wave (the US political infrastructure is very solidly a Second Wave creature), that’s not good.

  • P J Evans

    It’s not all that different from the way abusive husbands try to cut off
    their wives from all friends, acquaintances and co-workers to create
    total dependence and control that they can exploit.

    It’s hard for me to see a difference. The Fox News viewers seem to be married to their ‘news’ supplier, to the point where they don’t even recognize that what they’re being told is lies, half truths, and implications.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    I guess the key difference is that this “abusive relationship” can be ended (at least where I live) literally by just pushing a button (CNN, FOX, and MSNBC are all within one channel of each other where I live — it’s likely different in other parts of the US). No one has to watch just FOX — if you don’t trust MSNBC because it’s liberal or whatever, there’s always CNN, or even one of the local channels, or the Internet.

    The only way you can be totally warded off from every other channel is if you’ve been watching FOX so long that you’ve let them convince you (or, well, you’ve convinced yourself) that it’s the only source of news you can trust. And if you let that happen, whose fault is that? It’s not like options are scarce.

  • Matri

    That’s just it. These people have been so conditioned that they are no longer able to stop believing that everyone including reality itself is lying to them.

    All information is to be treated as liberal, suspicious, and a lie until they’ve checked it out with Fox News. It doesn’t help that all the lies the Republican senators keep spewing out is “verified” by Fox News as “true”.

  • Dan Audy

    While many of the obstacles that block getting out of a domestic abusive relationship (no need for scare quotes since that is literally what it is) are absent the majority of the psychological ones blocking people from getting out or even recognizing that it is in fact an abusive relationship.  I think victim blaming is a horrible thing to do (regardless of the damage those victims are doing) given that it isn’t a deliberate choice but one they are manipulated into through the combination of believing that Fox is actually a News Network reporting on reality and the omni-presence of the station on public TVs (seriously this freaked me the hell out when I visited the US to have so many waiting rooms/restaurants/etc just playing this propaganda).  If you actually want to understand how Fox convinces these people I’d suggest reading about Gaslighting and how it distorts peoples awareness of reality and teaches them to distrust themselves.

  • Helena

    I had never heard the term before, but now that you mention I think that an ex-girlfriend of mine believed I was trying to do it to her. We began watching an episode of Star Trek and during the first commercial break she said she had seen that one before an proceeded to summarize the plot. Except she had hopelessly confused together the plots to two different episodes. So I quickly disentangled them for her. When we watched the rest of the show she saw that I had been right, but she reacted strangely, as if she was becoming increasingly terrified of me, an she talked somewhat incoherently about my trying to change the way things really were. Evidently something like that had been one to her before. In the second year of her second marriage her husband threw her out of the house and told her she had no way to sue for support since they had never been married–the man who had performed the ceremony had been a friend of is dressed like a priest and no licence had ever been filed. he had basically wanted a live in nanny (for children form his first wife)/prostitute, but now he was done with her. but then, so many of the things he had told me about her past life were confabulations (for example that her father hand been a witchcraft high priest and had scarified at least 500 infants a year to Satan), who knows?

  • P J Evans

     CNN is ‘Fox Lite’ these days. Not that Fox viewers are likely to have found out.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Huh! That’s a shame. Then again I do seem to recall that CNN was one of the supposedly CIA-infested news agencies, so I’m not totally surprised.

  • P J Evans

     They were funding the ‘Tea Party’ tour bus a couple of years ago. For any real news organization, the proposal alone should have set off alarms on every floor of their offices.

  • P J Evans

     They were funding the ‘Tea Party’ tour bus a couple of years ago. For any real news organization, the proposal alone should have set off alarms on every floor of their offices.

  • Anonymous

    Democrats trust everything but Fox.

    Let’s not get too hasty here. Fox News is carcinogenic, but the rest of the American news industry isn’t too hot either.
    I don’t trust Wolf Blitzer, Piers Morgan, Erin Burnett, Erick Fucking Erickson, Pat Buchanan, Joe Scarborough, David Brooks, George Will, Brian Williams or anyone on the Sunday talk shows.

    They helped lie us into Iraq, they were useless during the fight over HCR, and I don’t trust them not to lie us into Iran or austerity-induced meltdown.

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    Oh, definitely. The rest of the news media isn’t motivated by the same political goals as Fox News, but it’s all still pretty terrible. Far less terrible, but terrible.

    But don’t take that comment about Democrats personally. A lot of Democrats aren’t particularly liberal, and/or aren’t critical enough to realize how shitty mainstream American news outlets are. Most of us here are, but that’s not necessarily representative. I wish it were!

  • Anonymous

    True, I have to realize that even most other Democrats don’t feel as I do. 
    Hell, my parents are well-informed liberals and I have the damnedest time convincing them that David Brooks is a rabid idiot strapped into a reasonable man’s suit. (It doesn’t help when I get hyperbolic like that.)

  • Anonymous

    I get all my news from Slactivist, FSTDT, and The Young Turks.

    But then, I dont’ have cable, either.

  • Anonymous

    Besides abusive relationships, the other major category this shows up in is cults and cult-like ideologies.  Back when I was a creationist, I held the view that, while the theory of evolution was plausible but that material evidence was scarce on the ground.  I held this view for as long as I did because, at that time, the evangelical subculture held a monopoly on information flow in the circles I engaged in.

  • http://twitter.com/merusdraconis Matt Cramp

    Yeah, this is one of the most crucial tools in the cultist arsenal. Actually it’s disturbing how many tools in the cultist’s arsenal show up in the American Right – public, completely fabricated confessions; language loading, by redefining perfectly innocent words to mean something completely different; claiming to be in the tradition of a larger, well-though-of group that would recoil in horror if they knew (in the Right’s case, the Founding Fathers)…

  • Lori

     
    Besides abusive relationships, the other major category this shows up in is cults and cult-like ideologies.  

     

    In my current living situation exposure to Fox News is unavoidable (I don’t control the TV) and IME the cult idea seems closer. One of the things that always strikes me is the way they repeat their “fair & balanced” slogan and how often they use the phrase “from the journalists at Fox News”. 

    Anyone who is actually fair & balanced doesn’t have to telling you all the time and a news station that has anything like actual journalists doesn’t have to keep calling them that. Repetition sure is handy for making lies “true” though. 

  • Helena

    So Fox news acts like someone who comes to tell you, “I am the way and the truth and the light” and “There is no way to the father except through me”?

  • http://www.nightphoenix.com Amaranth

    Except I’m pretty sure he didn’t say that with the intent of actively deceiving people for political gain. Which is a pretty big distinction to make.

  • Helena

    And how do you come by that assurance, I wonder? Did the holy ghost tell you?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=569235898 Nicole Resweber

    Well, they killed him for it, so that’s a weird definition of political gain.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    >Well, they killed him for it, so that’s a weird definition of political gain.

    History is full of people who allowed themselves to be killed in order to achieve a political goal, and many many more who did things in order to achieve a political goal that got them killed against their will.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    What’s interesting is how Fox News has, in the last decade or so, taken the “liberal media bias” myth and effectively turned it upside down to spectacularly remake the landscape of television news.

    Where before, you could assume the media was largely mainstream on touchy personal issues like abortion and gay rights, but generally somewhat conservatively biased on economic and political issues (which makes sense since reporters, contrary to a single survey done in 1992, are more diverse than that  but the wealthier ones will tend to support Republican views on taxation), and still prone to feeding frenzies that completely obscured the truth of the matter (one news person flat-out admitted that the media utterly failed on the Clinton health-care proposals because they were so eager to feed a news cycle driven by insurance company lobbying stirring up Americans’ fears), now you have a sharp bifurcation of the media in which Fox News has brazenly set out to capture the extreme right wing of media viewership while being like the smug kid saying “I’m NOT touching the thing by hovering my finger 1/1000 of an inch away from it!” by doing the whole “Fair and Balanced” thing.

    The other side of the coin is that CNN and MSNBC likely tend to now have more left-leaning viewers, but they haven’t really responded by moving harder left, which is kind of a disappointment.

    That said, the unsettling thing I always get from watching Fox News when someone has it on satellite or on Youtube is the way everybody there seems to bellow at you. It’s like they want your heart to race and your blood to move so you’ll feel upset over their latest whopper they tell.

    The CNN and MSNBC people always seem calmer.

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    You raise a good point. “Liberal media” has always been a myth, of course (there is liberal media out there, but you’re not going to find it on your TV). But it’s a myth that’s all the more ridiculous for three reasons:

    1) Media corporations are some of the biggest corporations on the planet. Their interests are, by far, those of the Republican Party.

    2) Absent the bias introduced by point 1, the media (other than Fox News) doesn’t really care what your political viewpoint is. Why would they want you to be liberal? Why would they care? What they want is your ass on the couch watching their news channel. As such, sensationalism is far more important than particular political ideologies.

    3) Given that the media is run by profit-driven corporations, if they were liberal, it’d be because that’s what viewers want. In other words, they’d simply be responding to the demands of the free market. So even if there were a liberal media, conservatives would do well to let the free market run its course instead of whining about persecution.

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ mmy

    You raise a good point. “Liberal media” has always been a myth, of course (there is liberal media out there, but you’re not going to find it on your TV)

    And from the point of view of this non-American those parts of the American media who are not *extremely* to the right play into this by claiming/embracing the title “liberal / left-wing” when the opinions they hold would have been perfectly acceptable to Richard Nixon.

    It is incredibly frustrating to me as a Canadian “listening in” to guests on Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes self-identify as “very left wing” and “near socialist” and then to hear them express opinions that would not be considered out of place in Conservative Party of Canada. 

    Yes, I know that “the center” varies from one country to another but words do have meanings and people who think that to even discuss single-payer health insurance makes one a socialist don’t know a) the history of single-payer health care in Canada and other countries and b) what the word “socialist” means.

  • Lori

     
    That said, the unsettling thing I always get from watching Fox News when someone has it on satellite or on Youtube is the way everybody there seems to bellow at you. It’s like they want your heart to race and your blood to move so you’ll feel upset over their latest whopper they tell.  

      

    This. I don’t know how many times I’ve asked my parents why everyone on Fox yells all the time. It’s like they don’t even notice. Part of that is because my parents are both quite hard of hearing and probably don’t realize that they don’t have to turn the volume up on Fox nearly as much as they do on other stations, but I think part of it is that they’re used to it. They just except that you’re supposed to feel anxious and stressed while watching the news. 

  • runsinbackground

    Part of the second part of your experience with your parents, I think, is that part of the “yelling” is “yell-y” visual techniques, like the way Fox shows tend to use lots of wooshing graphic transitions, bright and high-contrast colors, and probably stuff having to do with the posture and placement of the anchors guests and stuff, all of which is geared toward amping up the anxiety and interest of viewers. I’d contrast that with somebody like Charlie Rose, who can talk about some very important, scary topics, but the way his set is constructed and shot is such that it reads as a matter-of-fact discussion.

  • Lori

     
    Part of the second part of your experience with your parents, I think, is that part of the “yelling” is “yell-y” visual techniques  

     

    That’s probably true, but I can’t really say exactly how the visuals play in since I never actually watch Fox. I just hear it from the other room. They do use that wooshing sound a lot though. It’s disturbing that Fox viewers to recognize that as a problem for a news show. It’s bad enough when they do it on Hannity or O’Reilly. It’s another when they do that sort of tabloid thing on the news. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Here’s what I don’t get.

    I know quite a few people who stopped watching the normal news because it made them anxious–not from any yelling or sound effects or panic mongering. Just that being shown images of people starving to death in Somalia and feeling like there was nothing they could do about it makes them feel shitty. They don’t like feeling shitty so they stop watching the news.

    Why keep watching Fox if it makes you upset? I’m not a fan of the “encase oneself in a cocoon and ignore the problems of the world” approach to stress management, but it’s pretty popular. Why do so many people choose to get upset every night instead of eating ice cream and watching some crappy sitcom?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Here’s what I don’t get.

    I know quite a few people who stopped watching the normal news because it made them anxious–not from any yelling or sound effects or panic mongering. Just that being shown images of people starving to death in Somalia and feeling like there was nothing they could do about it makes them feel shitty. They don’t like feeling shitty so they stop watching the news.

    Why keep watching Fox if it makes you upset? I’m not a fan of the “encase oneself in a cocoon and ignore the problems of the world” approach to stress management, but it’s pretty popular. Why do so many people choose to get upset every night instead of eating ice cream and watching some crappy sitcom?

  • FangsFirst

    Why do so many people choose to get upset every night instead of eating ice cream and watching some crappy sitcom?

    They feel like it makes them part of the righteous few, and gives them something to rail against, and thus minor feelings of belonging, heroism and persecution.

    In some ways, remote issues and the exorcism of frustration related to them is a lovely release and distraction from the real issues I have personal involvement in.

  • WingedBeast

    Because feeling like you can’t do anything about the struggles of other people makes you feel shitty and weak.  Feeling upset about what those liberals are doing and joining Fox News and those they support in opposition is feeling strong.

    You join Fox News to be one of the great amalgum of the powerful and wise.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Then why do these people I know turn off the news and try to focus on the small pleasures of their own lives rather than become hateful right wing conservatives?

  • WingedBeast

    Short answer is “different strokes for different folks”.  Different people make different choices.  Some, I imagine, prefer dealing with the calmer world of their own lives (as opposed to their own lives plus the entire world’s pain), some prefer to believe themselves to be the saviors of the world.

    That latter one is why I vote, why I argue with my rightwing friends, why I pay attention to the general news, I want to be a part of the solution, it makes me feel good.  If my greatest fantasy included being a part of the solution by being a part of the tribe that defeats the evil Tribe named Everybodywhoisn’tinmytribe, Fox News would be a great place to go.

  • Anonymous

    …Do you read Shakesville? I read Shakesville. I make a point of checking it basically every day, and I’m happy to do so. Sometimes/often, there’ll be an article about a piece of news, or about the reaction to a piece of news, or just a spontaneous thing that a contributor thought they’d write about, and it’ll be about something really horrible. When I read about horrible things, I will often feel stressed, upset, and drained, which doesn’t exactly work wonders with my anxiety disorder. 

    I continue to read Shakesville, despite how frequently it will exhaust me, for a few reasons. I like to keep informed, for one thing. It offers an unabashedly progressive feminist viewpoint, which isn’t a tremendously easy thing to find, and as my understanding of its most common weak points has developed, so too has my trust. Most of all, though, I feel like it makes me a better person. Directly and indirectly, it has influenced how I think about many issues, and has helped me become more sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. 

    For these, I am willing to expose myself to things that will upset and anger me, instead of spending my time doing other, less stressful things. I don’t think this is unusual. Yes, absolutely, sometimes I do shut off the news and focus on the simple pleasures in my life. But sometimes, that’s not enough to satisfy me, and I tend to think it’s that sense of satisfaction that people try to strive for, more than simple entertainment in its own right. Satisfaction means different things to different people at different times, so it doesn’t seem that strange to me for a large number of people to make a point of setting aside some time in the evening to watch the  news, even if what they see doesn’t give them an immediate sense of happiness. 

    It’s unfortunate that, in this case, Fox News is the thing people are making a point to watch, since Fox News is an atrocity. But they put on a dynamic and entertaining show, and they tell their viewers that they’re covering the really important issues. So it ends up being a really fulfilling combination, even if what’s being served is composed primarily of trash. I’m not surprised that it has such a powerful influence on its audience.

  • Anonymous

    They just accept that you’re supposed to feel anxious and stressed while watching the news.

    I think this is a big part of it: learning about the world is hard these days.  It’s not just that there are bad things happening, it’s the information overload.  With multiple news networks, dozens of newspapers and radio stations, and the entire internet’s worth of websites to choose from– each with their own biases– figuring out who to believe and how much to believe them is astonishingly difficult.  Myself, I pick a few sources whose biases I believe I know and read them, supplementing with reading more widely– but I always have the unnerving sense that my information is flawed, I’m missing something.  (Mordecai, I think part of the reason that we trust Comedy Central is that unlike everyone else, they admit they have an agenda and aren’t meant to be just straightforwardly reporting facts.) 

    But if you trust Fox News implicitly, and distrust everyone else, you don’t have to feel that way.  You don’t have to comb through many conflicting sources to get close to something like the truth– you know the truth.  Possibly even the Truth.  You might feel anxious about the Muslims or the gays or the Democrats– but at least you know who the enemy are, and what they’re doing, and that they’re bad.  No nagging uncertainty.  You can be secure in your fear, because at least you are right.

  • http://brandiweed.livejournal.com/ Brandi

    It’s not just that there are bad things happening, it’s the information overload.

    There’s only one sane solution– BLOW IT UP!

  • Anonymous

    The CNN and MSNBC people always seem calmer.

    I don’t know, my mom watches Chris Matthews and I always come away from that with ringing ears and blurred vision.

  • Lori

     
    I don’t know, my mom watches Chris Matthews and I always come away from that with ringing ears and blurred vision.  

     

    True, but Chris Matthews’ show isn’t their news hour. Fox doesn’t just yell on their talk shows, which is what Matthews is. They yell on the news. Shepherd Smith is their anchor and he isn’t loud, but his guests and the other Fox reporters who do bits on the news are. During the panel segment Smith is often the only one not talking at top volume.

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    Although I’d like to agree with the domestic abuse scenario, from personal (very personal) experience, I’d argue that it isn’t. Even Fox News needs its viewers to feel safe around them and so doesn’t openly mock them (just everybody else).

    The effects are similar, but the target of abuse is quite different.

  • Anonymous

    If you can’t muster the honesty and accuracy that would earn your audience’s trust, then the next best thing, I suppose, is to convince them to distrust everyone and everything else.

    You know, my first thought was, that sounds like the middle part of a massive scam. (Once you convince someone that nothing anyone else says matters, you move in for the kill.)

    But then I thought, FOX already has. It’s just that the money-making part is through politics, not through direct (personal) fraud.

  • http://twitter.com/xiombarg Kirt D

    Well, and advertising. From an advertiser’s point of view, this situation means that Fox News has a large, captured audience. Depending on whose numbers you believe, it could be something like 27% of the US population or *more*, while all the other media outlets have to split the remaining pie.

    That’s AMAZING if you’re an advertiser. This is also why if you actually want to get Fox to do something (like fire Glenn Beck), you have to pressure the advertisers, as this where the money is.

  • Lori

     
    That’s AMAZING if you’re an advertiser. This is also why if you actually want to get Fox to do something (like fire Glenn Beck), you have to pressure the advertisers, as this where the money is.  

    You would think so, but Fox doesn’t have a particularly stellar line-up of ads. I don’t think I’ve ever heard an hour on Fox that didn’t have at least 2 or 3 ads for “investing in gold”. A lot of the other ads are for other things that are basically low rent scams. That makes me think that Fox’s skeeviness is off-setting the audience size for a lot of advertisers. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    What happened to Glenn Beck anyway?

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    More to the point– Comedy Central has become a trusted news source.  Which– I adore the Daily Show & Colbert Report, & I think they are important pillars in the modern age…but how effing broken does news media need to be for SATIRE to be one of the only acceptable sources of information?

  • Lori

     
    More to the point– Comedy Central has become a trusted news source.  Which– I adore the Daily Show & Colbert Report, & I think they are important pillars in the modern age…but how effing broken does news media need to be for SATIRE to be one of the only acceptable sources of information?  

     

    Obviously the answer is pretty effing broken. I think the one comforting thing about it is that people trust this particular satire is because it relies so heavily on allowing people’s own words to damn them. 

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Yep.  Witness the recent kerfluffle over some fool at the New York Times actually ASKING his readers “should we report those actual ‘fact’ thingies, or just carry on as uncritical stenographers?”   :-P

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Yep.  Witness the recent kerfluffle over some fool at the New York Times actually ASKING his readers “should we report those actual ‘fact’ thingies, or just carry on as uncritical stenographers?”   :-P

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    Seriously, that was appalling. I’m not saying the digital revolution hasn’t been a factor in the downfall of print, but I think the advent of modern punditry & the willingness to basically just reprint press releases & talking points has been the real backbreaker for the industry. How about instead of trying to be a tabloid you actually get out there & do some Lois Lane-ing?!

  • Anonymous

    But that’s really scary for them.  They dug themselves into too deep of a hole – their reputation in the market is built on this idea that they’re “unbiased”, which in practice means that they have viewers on both sides of every issue and those viewers expect that their prior beliefs will never be challenged.  As soon as there was a powerful right-wing media presence which could challenge them on any insufficiently right-wing assertion, they had no choice but to back away from making any statements of fact for fear of losing half of their audience.  Statistics show they’ve bled conservatives anyway, but they’re still worried about losing independents.  We’re not going to see ‘controversial’ factual assertions in supposedly centrist or neutral media for a while yet; the best bet is to go to self-consciously liberal outlets – I’m a big fan of Rachel Maddow.

  • Guest

    Seriously, that was appalling. I’m not saying the digital revolution hasn’t been a factor in the downfall of print, but I think the advent of modern punditry & the willingness to basically just reprint press releases & talking points has been the real backbreaker for the industry. How about instead of trying to be a tabloid you actually get out there & do some Lois Lane-ing?!

  • Anonymous

    I miss those two shows.  They were the only worthwhile things on TV until that cartoon about ponies and how to be a decent person.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    Princess Luna is my co-pilot.

  • FangsFirst

    The Daily Show and the Colbert Report are posted in full online every day, if you do indeed miss em

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Clips on the Daily Show website are blocked in Australia. Fox bought the rights to the show, took it off the public broadcaster and onto pay tv (which most people don’t have) and blocked videos on the website.

    Grrr

  • FangsFirst

    Yeah, I have a friend who told me it’s blocked in the UK, so being blocked, well, anywhere else doesn’t surprise me much. She was expressing concern about the lunatics in the Republican party and how the election of one of them could affect everyone else (and those of us she knows over here), and I wanted to show her the “Newt Gingrich says awful things about everyone” segment, and then she told me it was blocked there.

    (I considered noting “unless you’re in another country,” but I think The_L isn’t, so I left it off)

    Sorry you are kicked out of it for dumb reasons, since you clearly are annoyed by it. And I rather think you would enjoy it (or did in the past maybe?) from what I’ve seen of your views :

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I used to watch it on ABC then online, and laugh my arse off. I’m actually considering buying the itunes episode pack as the primaries keep going.

  • Si

    I think it’s true that the media generally have a mild-to-pronounced liberal tilt; this is because journalism, properly carried out, is an essentially non-conservative enterprise. It asks questions, especially of authority. It gives a voice to the oppressed. It comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. Good journalism is always a threat to the status quo.

    So there’s that.

    One thing about Fox, and the religious/conservative mob it serves, is that they seem to really delight in freak-baiting, in isolating and ridiculing the outsider, the upstart, and the underdog. For example: on the propaganda site that is Fox Nation, one of the lead stories yesterday was about a Wiccan mother who had taken a stand against Gideon Bibles being distributed at her daughter’s public school. Each story featured on the homepage has a graphic with a “play video” symbol on it; you click on the graphic and it takes you to the story with the video. Most graphics are a still from the video. For this story, the graphic was, I kid you not, Margaret Hamilton in green witch makeup. This image didn’t appear in the video or anywhere else – just on the link. I felt this was an unChristlike display of contempt for a minority religion, but then, I’m just a liberal journalist.

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    I think it’s true that the media generally have a mild-to-pronounced liberal tilt; this is because journalism, properly carried out, is an essentially non-conservative enterprise. It asks questions, especially of authority. It gives a voice to the oppressed. It comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. Good journalism is always a threat to the status quo.

    Certainly that’s true of good journalism, but I don’t think there’s a lot of that in America. The nature of US media requires it to ingratiate itself to authority and not to challenge the status quo. After all, CNN wants reporters embedded in frontline units during war, so it’s not going to criticize America’s military adventurism too loudly. This isn’t conjectural – the Pentagon has shown a ready willingness on many occasions to block news that it doesn’t like.

  • Si

    @Gaudior:disqus   – Comedy Central doesn’t admit an agenda. In fact, Jon Stewart will argue passionately (and disingenuously, I think) that he’s just a comedian and a neutral party without a political agenda and only interested in exposing hypocrisy on both sides of the isle and leans just as hard on liberals as conservatives, etc, etc. (He may also add that conservatives just happen to be funnier.)

    I think the real reason the Daily Show and the Colbert Report are trusted is because they have a vested comedic interest in getting the basic facts right: “It’s funny ‘cos it’s true.” American comedy is based in large part on the idea of truth-telling, on accurate observation. Think about every standup bit you’ve ever seen: the humor is rooted in the premise that the comedian is parodying or hyperbolizing something that is at its core a truth, which is what allows us to laugh.

    The Daily Show’s best bits are often video compilations of old interviews that skewer a politician’s hypocrisy without Stewart having to say a word. Its features depend on the idea that the interviewee is being presented unvarnished and in earnest. If the Daily Show gets its facts wrong, people will stop watching because it won’t be funny anymore

  • FangsFirst

    and a neutral party without a political agenda

    Last time he got into it with…I forget if it was the last O’Reilly or Chris Matthews.
    Anyway, he admitted to being non-neutral, and to a lean. Just that it was not relevant for the reason that it’s for comedy.

    I was going to add a comment on my disappointment with his taste, but let’s not get into that AGAIN.

  • Lori

     
    Last time he got into it with…I forget if it was the last O’Reilly or Chris Matthews.

    Anyway, he admitted to being non-neutral, and to a lean. Just that it was not relevant for the reason that it’s for comedy.  

     
    Stewart has a lean, but it’s not nearly as much of one as people on the Right like to pretend it is. He frequently allows Winger guests to go unchallenged on really basic lies and bullshit. In some cases Stewart seems to actually buy their lies and bullshit, which is always disappointing. Many of those people get invited on the show (IOW, given free publicity) repeatedly. 

  • FangsFirst

    Stewart has a lean, but it’s not nearly as much of one as people on the Right like to pretend it is.

    Absolutely. And I think there is an *effort* to go after whoever did a dumb thing regardless of their lean–insofar as it’s something/someone they do choose to go after. (which serves to reinforce it as a failure to lean hard either way)

    He frequently allows Winger guests to go unchallenged on really basic
    lies and bullshit. In some cases Stewart seems to actually buy their
    lies and bullshit, which is always disappointing. Many of those people
    get invited on the show (IOW, given free publicity) repeatedly.

    I think most of the time he doesn’t know they’re lies or bullshit. I watch it online about daily (mostly for the early chunks composed primarily of clips from other stuff with acerbic commentary) and sometimes stick around for the interviews. I usually get the impression he’s sincere, but ignorant of things here and there. Which does lead to not challenging, buying into things (again, I do think he at least does this sincerely, though that doesn’t make it not-disappointing). And yeah. People do get free publicity, which is definitely what I was alluding to above, especially with his fleeting endorsement of certain people….and extreme willingness to accept excuses for them, but that, too, seems like the, “Please, no, I decided I LIKED this person…I don’t want them to be bad!”

  • TomV

    “Who are you going to trust, me or your lying eyes?” — Groucho Marx

  • Anonymous

    I’m not defending Fox, but the attitude of the mainstream media that the most important thing is to be “unbiased” (as in centrist) and, well, fair and balanced is what created the environment that made Fox possible. The problem is that there’s an expectation that a media corporation ought to try to be the kind of thing that Fox is selling itself as. To this day, it’d be considered extremely inappropriate for a news personality to endorse a candidate or even a party. The media environment is changing, but Americans’ cultural understanding of the role of the media has been slower to catch up.

    You can inoculate people against things like Fox by making clear to everybody that you shouldn’t expect any one source to be unbiased, that you should always keep an eye out for conflicts of interest, etc. The media in this country spent a long time convincing people that they /could/ trust the big news channels to get it basically right, and then Fox came along and innovated this new business model of claiming to be doing the old media thing while consciously attempting to appeal more to people on one side. Of course conservatives tended to trust that Fox was getting it more right than the others; Fox was telling them stuff they were more inclined to believe and everybody had been telling them that the point of a big news channel was to provide a complete view of world affairs.

    Basically, an environment where a media corporation calling itself “fair and balanced” isn’t immediately viewed with suspicion is inherently unstable and is going to eventually give rise to something like Fox. Informal norms will only get you so far when there’s money to be made. In a much better world, very few people would report trust in any media organization.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Unbiased and centrist are not the same thing.

  • http://flickr.com/photos/sedary_raymaker/ Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Chris Matthews is one of MSNBC’s more right-leaning personalities, so maybe he’s not a strike against the shouting observation.

  • Lori

     
    Chris Matthews is one of MSNBC’s more right-leaning personalities, so maybe he’s not a strike against the shouting observation.  

    This is also a good point. On the other hand, Ed Schultz is one of the more lefty personalities and he tends to be loud. 

  • rizzo

    It’s sad, the old guy I hang out with has Fox news on 24/7.  I try to talk to him about things that happened in history and things that are happening now but he doesn’t want to know about any of it, because “If I didn’t hear about it then, it wasn’t important and if it’s not on Fox news now it’s a liberal lie.” 
    Being a Communist, this can be frustrating.  I look at it as bringing him food/mail/groceries/feeding his cats/whatnot every day is my good deed for that day and talking to him every day is my ‘trying to see all sides of an argument’ for that day.  I think it makes me a better person, even if there’s no way I’ll ever get him to think that our President isn’t “a nigger who is ruining this country”…lol…

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Argh, sorry for the double-post.

    One of the many, MANY failures of the American news media is their efforts to be ‘uniased’.  Which has proven in practice to be an easy exploit for the heavy-duty liars, since the ‘news’ will dutifully report things like “Some people claim the Earth is flat.  Some say it is spherical.”  :-P

  • P J Evans

    The big mistake is assuming that ‘unbiased ‘ means getting one person from each side of the question and giving them equal time to talk.

  • WingedBeast

    We treat Fox News like it’s a disease that’s new to conservative politics.  I’m 33 years old, a child in the 80s and I remember a strain of conservative throught even then, one that was itself heartened by a strong history from the culture going back decades further at least, that refused to entertain the thoughts of anybody in opposition.  This wasn’t just obstinence as a flaw.  It was considered a virtue to only speak of liberal ideologies in terms of the flimsiest of strawmen.

    Beatnicks, hippies, protestors, etc are all called counterculture, but those most strongly wed to conservatism as a Tribe have defined themselves in counter to the countercultures.

    This is, by now, an old fact of conservatism vs liberalism that conservatism views the ability to listen, comprehend, and respectfully state the beliefs of anybody else (whether that anybody else is on a political, religious, philsophical, or even asthetic map) as a character flaw to be driven out.  Liberals often fail to achieve that ability but at least have to give lipservice to the idea that it is a virtue.

    What’s happening isn’t Fox News creating this distrust in other media or creating an ideological bubble.  The bubble, the self-organized cult was already there, has been there since loong before I was born.  Fox News just crawled in and started a News Channel that reports from the bubble to the bubble.

  • P J Evans

    Disqus. Sucks.
    (I got a ‘system error’ message on the first one.)

  • Anonymous

    On the “Shouty” point, isn’t this something that’s been carried over from print journalism? Compare a typical tabloid with a “quality” paper like the NY Times, the Guardian or Le Monde. The “quality” reports an important story: The headline is big enough to catch your eye, but not excessive; the picture is usually a quarter to a half the width of page; and there’s a lot of writing, which you hope will tell you in some detail what has happened. The tabloid, by contrast takes up half the front page with a headline in about 288 point type and uses most of the rest for the picture. There’s a couple of paragraphs of text somewhere in a bottom corner (not very informative).

    Now that’s shouting in print, to me. And it’s a style that’s been developing for as long as I can remember. Fox is, after all, owned by a man who made his first fortune by more or less inventing the modern tabloid, so it’s not surprising that they carry the same techniques across to other media. It’s still not very informative, but tabloids have always outsold the qualities, so perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised.

  • http://www.quirkyknitgirl.com/ Stephanie Ivy

    When I hear things like that, all I can think of is cult. Because that’s what cult leaders do; they say mine is the only information and you may not seek anything else out. It’s one thing to disagree with another group — but to forbid even the search or question? It’s cult-like and, frankly, dangerous.


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