Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Fox News Effect: Wagging the Dog or the Other Way Around?

It's been part of my creed that Fox News is having a deleterious effect on our national conversations. But is it, instead, a depository of broken dreams?

This guy opens his yap, and bullshit comes out. But should we care?

I just may be wrong about this. My assumption has always been that Rush Limbaugh and the rest of conservative talk radio, along with Fox News and Fox Business News, have poisoned the minds of our body politic, damaging what used to be a reasonably civil dialogue and turning our political life into an endless fetid swamp.

I have no research or links to send you to, but at least I want to draw a line here against my own possibly false assumptions. What's brought this on has been my growing realization that what was "wrong" with our country has been wrong for a long, long time. It's only coming out from the shadows into the light of national exposure.

Here's a picture, gruesome as it is, that gets to the heart of what I mean:

This was once considered a great Friday night. What's changed?

Obviously Fox News didn't have an effect on lynching. It wasn't around then. But the sensibilities that led to lynching back in the day -- not that long ago -- are alive and well in much of the country today.

Realizing that has spun my head around. Rush Limbaugh didn't invent hate, he's merely channeling it, as is Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, and Sean Hannity. I'm beginning to think that Fox and conservative radio draw viewers and listeners into their sphere not by creating new right-wing reactionaries but by giving the same old bastards a new place to hang.

As shocking as it seems that there are so many reactionaries that Fox News is easily the highest rated cable news outfit on the air, the reason for this is that once they had a place to call home, they flocked there. Yes, there were always this many white people who resented "the other," whether black, Latino, or poor, white trash. Now they just have a cozy place to flop.

We spotted this crowd at the end of George W. Bush's presidency: They were the 28% that still had a favorable view of him.

There are a number of systemic reasons that today's brand of Republicanism appears, especially during midterm elections, to be on the ascendancy, but it doesn't mean they're on the rise. They're just standing around and shouting at the same place and time.

They used to be called lynchings. Now we call them Trump rallies. And if you think I'm being unfair to Donald Trump, you haven't looked at his audiences.

Just about says it all.

Not a nice thing to say, but where am I wrong?

A final point: I'm not sure that this is a forever thing. I don't believe that a "Whites Only, No Colored" party can keep its grip on power, especially because its message to minorities is pretty much fuck you. And it's message to women is we control your bodies, you don't. Not a forever winning hand. At some point shit stops working. I can't wait.

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