What does the Fox say?
September 18, 2020 10:25 AM   Subscribe

Political theorists, over the years, have looked for metaphors to describe the effects that Fox—particularly its widely watched opinion shows—has had on American politics and culture. They’ve talked about the network as an “information silo” and “a filter bubble” and an “echo chamber,” as an “alternate reality” constructed of “alternative facts,” as a virus on the body politic, as an organ of the state. The comparisons are all correct. But they don’t quite capture what the elegies for Fox-felled loved ones express so efficiently.
Fox, for many of its fans, is an identity shaped by an ever-expanding lexicon: mob, PC police, Russiagate, deep state, MSM, MS-13, socialist agenda, Dems, libs, Benghazi, hordes, hoax, dirty, violent, invasion, open borders, anarchy, liberty, Donald Trump. Fox has two pronouns, you and they, and one tone: indignation. (You are under attack; they are the attackers.) Its grammar is grievance. Its effect is totalizing. Over time, if you watch enough Fox & Friends or The Five or Tucker Carlson or Sean Hannity or Laura Ingraham, you will come to understand, as a matter of synaptic impulse, that immigrants are invading and the mob is coming and the news is lying and Trump alone can fix it.
Meet the families torn apart by toxic cable news:
To be clear, Fox News didn’t invent the white supremacy and racism at the heart of America, but the channel has definitely supercharged it. It’s also important to point out that “My parents watched the bad TV and got racist off it” is clearly a much less serious problem than being someone whose life is put at risk by the type of stuff Fox News promotes. That doesn’t make seeing someone you care about slide into the myopic bubble of rightwing propaganda any easier.

I mentioned the idea of losing family to Fox News brain on Twitter the other day, and unsurprisingly, a lot of people had their own similar stories. I asked some of them to share how it felt.

Here’s a collection of the stories people shared.
posted by Ouverture (73 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've always been a fan of the term "Fox News Cinematic Universe" myself.
posted by Snuffman at 10:51 AM on September 18, 2020 [45 favorites]


Because you're initiated into secret knowledge you are special. Because outsiders don't understand you are alienated. That's literally how they get you, that's the complete playbook. Cults.
posted by Horkus at 11:08 AM on September 18, 2020 [19 favorites]


When people start spouting talking points, I now refer to it as Fox speaking through them. They are no longer thinking, Tucker Carlson is reaching through them to speak. You can see it in the shift in body language and idioms used, it's really ugly when you start to spot it getting ready to erupt from a family member when a worldview is threatened. You can see them shift gears from person you know into cult member.
posted by benzenedream at 11:14 AM on September 18, 2020 [42 favorites]


Let's stick with the good ol' fashioned term: brainwashing.
posted by linux at 11:16 AM on September 18, 2020 [15 favorites]


I would argue that Fox News is creating a different frame of understanding, transitioning viewers into understanding the reality around them as almost a newly constructed cultural context in and of itself. Through the consistent use of certain types of language (including figurative language like metaphors) and narratives, they are pushing certain core models of understanding (schema) that support perceiving the world as one of threat and fear. Once in that mentality, viewers then use those tools that have been internalized to understand, interpret, and respond to outside stimuli. For that reason, I think the term "alternative reality" is pretty accurate in that--at least coming from my own constructivist paradigm--reality is subjective and socially created, and this is a new way of viewing the world that has been socially created through the interaction of the viewer with Fox News over time.

It's also a form of hegemony, in that Fox News et al. are imposing a certain way of interpreting the world around us, and then those who have had that understanding imposed on them use the tools they've been given to actively maintain and spread that worldview. It's kind of like a virus using the tools of the cell to reproduce, only in this case they are using the tools of the mind for understanding the world to reshape the minds of others.
posted by past unusual at 11:27 AM on September 18, 2020 [10 favorites]


The neatest term I've come across for what Fox does is "resentertainment".
posted by Paul Slade at 11:38 AM on September 18, 2020 [85 favorites]


When people start spouting talking points, I now refer to it as Fox speaking through them. They are no longer thinking, Tucker Carlson is reaching through them to speak.

Fox-Newspeak = duckspeak:
What was slightly horrible, was that from the stream of sound that poured out of his mouth it was almost impossible to distinguish a single word. Just once Winston caught a phrase -'complete and final elimination of Goldsteinism'- jerked out very rapidly and, as it seemed, all in one piece, like a line of type cast solid. For the rest it was just a noise, a quack-quack-quacking. And yet, though you could not actually hear what the man was saying, you could not be in any doubt about its general nature. He might be denouncing Goldstein and demanding sterner measures against thought-criminals and saboteurs, he might be fulminating against the atrocities of the Eurasian army, he might be praising Big Brother or the heroes on the Malabar front -- it made no difference. Whatever it was, you could be certain that every word of it was pure orthodoxy, pure Ingsoc. As he watched the eyeless face with the jaw moving rapidly up and down, Winston had a curious feeling that this was not a real human being but some kind of dummy. It was not the man's brain that was speaking, it was his larynx. The stuff that was coming out of him consisted of words, but it was not speech in the true sense: it was a noise uttered in unconsciousness, like the quacking of a duck.
posted by hangashore at 11:40 AM on September 18, 2020 [47 favorites]




I have lost quite a few family members to 'Fox Brain', but it's really not correct to say I ever 'had' them to lose, as these same topics were always undercurrents. My family was easy to convert - they just needed someone in the national media to talk for them.

I've heard of others who had expressed different views before they became Fox News converts, but I don't see how you can become a convert without being VERY open to being converted, since so much is in blatant code and the strawmen are laughably violent and basic - like a Chuck Norris movie has villains with more shades of grey.

OAN is even worse. That's the graduate school to Fox News elementary.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:53 AM on September 18, 2020 [10 favorites]


The neatest term I've come across for what Fox does is "resentertainment".

The best explanation I've ever heard is that conservatives are strong believers that there is a hierarchy that permeates society. Most of the resentment is driven by feeling like they're falling down the levels of the hierarchy because someone is unfairly being placed above them. They're not actually falling down. They're not really worse off. What's actually happening is that society is starting to dismantle structural advantages that have been enjoyed by a single group since basically time immemorial. This social hierarchy, if anything, is getting flatter as we further endow it with more and more of the attributes of enlightenment but to a conservative it still feels like they're "losing".
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 11:54 AM on September 18, 2020 [47 favorites]


The one-two punch of the end of the Fairness Doctrine and incremental deregulation of media ownership was the beginning of the end. This led to talk radio becoming a conservative juggernaut, products that sounded like news and newsy editorials but that were deliberately inflammatory opinion pieces and, bluntly, conservative propaganda.

This led to people like Newt Gingrich realizing the power of this new media and abusing it with all their might. Gingrich's fabled GOPAC memo on political language was the cheat sheet for hundreds of conservative pols that followed him, with its emphasis on appealing to emotion over substance and using a carefully-crafted lexicon to enhance this.

The Fox News Network was simply this dynamic -- look like news, claim news-ish impartiality, but sound like the John Birch Society -- applied to a bigger and visual audience. This was the other cornerstone of the Mirror Universe Media, a conservative bubble that quickly formed. When one could pick up newspapers and read the same talking points that they saw on Fox News and heard on Rush Limbaugh, and all three were framing the debate to tell you precisely what you wanted to hear (that your lack of success and money wasn't your own fault, it was THOSE PEOPLE stealing it and America from you), one became predisposed to believe it and to repeat it ad nauseum.

Never mind that neither the newspapers (alternative openly-conservative-biased newspapers popping up in major cities, not the flagship papers that had dominated them for decades) nor the radio shows nor the newfound power of Fox News were putting forth _actual news_ -- you know, the kind with facts and evidence and impartial reality behind it. They were putting out propagandized entertainment, something that Limbaugh (for one) always fell back on. "I'm not a news anchor, I'm a talk show host, I'm entertainment," he'd scoff, right before influencing politics more than any news anchor simply stating facts could ever do.

It's kind of telling that, arguably, the most successful "liberal" counter to this was Jon Stewart's Daily Show, which wore its heart on its sleeve far more openly than its conservative cousins. Stewart's disembowelment of Crossfire was completely accurate, yet was also a stake to the heart of the idea of bipartisan political commentary in this era... and if you doubt that, look what Tucker Carlson turned into once he put down the bowtie and picked up the torch and pitchfork and white hood.

It amuses me a bit that many Trumpoids are actively turning AGAINST Fox News as time goes by, for a simple reason; Fox occasionally errs on the side of actual truth that is embarrassing or unpleasant for the Orange One. Every time Chris Wallace speaks, for instance, Twitter is full of yahoos howling how Fox is liberal claptrap and Fox is Communist and Fox is in George Soros's pocket and OANN (an even more openly-propagandistic soapbox-of-howling masquerading as 'news') is the new place for Truth. Shep Smith got hounded out of there largely for the same reasons -- an inability to stare at 2+2 and agree with Trump if Trump insisted the answer was 13. Five, he might be able to fudge, but one can only go so far without being a complete bootlicking lackey.

Which is what the OANN-level audience wants, because that is what the Gingriches of this world want them to be. Compliant useful idiots who will hear talking points, believe them without argument, and form their political and social worldviews around them.
posted by delfin at 11:55 AM on September 18, 2020 [55 favorites]


The best explanation I've ever heard is that conservatives are strong believers that there is a hierarchy that permeates society. Most of the resentment is driven by feeling like they're falling down the levels of the hierarchy because someone is unfairly being placed above them. They're not actually falling down. They're not really worse off. What's actually happening is that society is starting to dismantle structural advantages that have been enjoyed by a single group since basically time immemorial. This social hierarchy, if anything, is getting flatter as we further endow it with more and more of the attributes of enlightenment but to a conservative it still feels like they're "losing".

Leftists believe that rights are universal. That there is room for prosperity, for civil rights, for recognition for all. That no one moral or religious framework is necessarily ironclad or superior. That working towards inclusion and diversity is always the right thing to do.

Conservatives believe in a very specific social order -- one in which they are the only legitimate authority. The religious types want a more theocratic version of this; the fiscal types want to structure it around how they can make more and more money at everyone else's expense. The pure authoritarians simply want to lord it over everyone else, and for the underclasses to know their place.

Hence all the emphasis on rurals and middle-Americans and blue-collar workers and country music fans as the REAL Americans, as compared to out-of-touch coastal elites who simply don't count or matter or should be listened to. Hence the ever-growing drumbeat for LAW AND ORDER in the face of police brutality and encroaching fascism. That ORDER is precisely what they want to maintain -- and it has little to do with the letter of the law.

And groups of which they do not approve gaining acceptance hurts them because they view this order as zero-sum. For LGBTs to gain marriage rights, for instance, diminishes their own position as controllers of the social order because it means that conservative religious types no longer have an effective monopoly on what marriage _is_ and implies. (The arguments for "Why do you oppose gay marriage?" always boiled down to two things -- either "because Jesus hates it" (which is no justification for secular law) or "because it's always been that way." Exactly -- because we've always been a society in which Christian religious scolds wielded considerable power and authority, and they feel that slipping away from them.)

If you are one of these people, taught for decades that liberal scum have siphoned away all the money and the power and the good jobs and the benefits and the tax dollars and simply handed it to THOSE PEOPLE who don't deserve it, the dismantling of those societal advantages _does_ feel like losing because they _do_ benefit from those advantages. And a populist authoritarian bellowing how those advantages _should_ remain untouched? That draws a certain kind of voter.

It is a battle between "We" (inclusion, diversity, a wide safety net) and "Me" (tradition, authority, social statism, not one dime of taxes to who I feel are undeserving). And the reason it works is that so many who would benefit from "We" fail to realize that "Me" is _part of_ "We."
posted by delfin at 12:06 PM on September 18, 2020 [41 favorites]


I guess the question I keep asking is -- as the left has realized what the right is doing, why the hell aren't we also buying up media and using them?

Do we really think we can just ignore worldview manufacturing machines? Do we think that merely analyzing the situation and being contemptuous towards people who are easily pulled into it is good enough? Do we really *not* understand how to do this?

Or do we just not have enough damn money?
posted by wildblueyonder at 12:15 PM on September 18, 2020 [7 favorites]


Uttering a prayer of thanks that my own parents have never, ever done this.

And my father even tries watching Fox News. He says he's doing it "to hear what the other guy is saying" as if it's some kind of intellectual fairness thing - but I think it's a hate-watch thing, because he can't even go two minutes without growling in disgust and turning the channel back to MSNBC or giving up entirely and putting on sports.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:15 PM on September 18, 2020 [4 favorites]


Tangentially, I really wish they would credit the artist who made the animated illustrations by name.
posted by scose at 12:21 PM on September 18, 2020 [1 favorite]


delfin, I'm glad you mentioned that infamous 1995 Gingrich memo. I think about it often. It really seems to have been a key inflection point in the GOP's turn toward demagoguery and fascistic politics.

For those who haven't seen it, here's the whole thing:

Language: A Key Mechanism of Control
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 12:23 PM on September 18, 2020 [17 favorites]


either "because Jesus hates it" (which is no justification for secular law) or "because it's always been that way."

Neither of which is even remotely true, btw.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:23 PM on September 18, 2020 [2 favorites]


I guess the question I keep asking is -- as the left has realized what the right is doing, why the hell aren't we also buying up media and using them?

You first, I guess? I just checked my bank balance and it turns out I don't have enough money to buy a national television network.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:27 PM on September 18, 2020 [5 favorites]


I guess the question I keep asking is -- as the left has realized what the right is doing, why the hell aren't we also buying up media and using them?

Because amassing the amounts of wealth to acquire media organizations requires one to adhere to very not-leftist values on screwing employees over to begin with.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:27 PM on September 18, 2020 [24 favorites]


I guess the question I keep asking is -- as the left has realized what the right is doing, why the hell aren't we also buying up media and using them?

i think there are many attempts to do this and will continue to be; they mostly haven't quite landed so far. going back as far as Air America. now Chapo Trap House, MSNBC from 2017 on, both have elements of trying to inculcate resentment and paranoia in their audience. they just aren't completely cynical yet, and also not quite as skilled as News Corp.

it's possible left-leaners are less susceptible but I don't really think this is true. i think somebody will hit on the right formula eventually, and it won't be a good thing. More angry paranoid people who can't tell the difference between truth and falsehood is not good, even if they happen to vote the right way.
posted by vogon_poet at 12:28 PM on September 18, 2020 [23 favorites]


it's possible left-leaners are less susceptible but I don't really think this is true. i think somebody will hit on the right formula eventually, and it won't be a good thing.

[Little Red Book waving intensifies]
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 12:28 PM on September 18, 2020 [12 favorites]


When people start spouting talking points, I now refer to it as Fox speaking through them. They are no longer thinking, Tucker Carlson is reaching through them to speak. You can see it in the shift in body language and idioms used, it's really ugly when you start to spot it getting ready to erupt from a family member when a worldview is threatened. You can see them shift gears from person you know into cult member.

In a weird way, this reminds me of John Scalzi's book Redshirts. The main characters would act normally until the narrative took over, and then they'd become blind to their reality and act (unknown to them) how the script dictatated they act. With the victims of Fox News, it's stunning how seemingly normal people get possessed by the Fox narrative and no longer see people and friends and relatives, just us and them.
posted by ensign_ricky at 12:30 PM on September 18, 2020 [6 favorites]


We have a family friend who watches Fox News because, as he puts it, "to beat them, you have to understand them".

I don't know what news channel my brother watches. I can guess though, because he occasionally sends me conservative claptrap. Most recently, he sent out a group text parroting the QAnon BS that "only 9,000 people in the US really died of COVID". When pressed he said the rest of the 170,000 dead "would have died anyway".

I lost my shit at him. I asked him if he was going to call the other 161,000 families and tell them to stop whining because they didn't technically lose a loved one to COVID. I asked him how he could possibly state that our country was doing a good job of fighting the virus, when we have 20% of the global deaths but only 4% of the world's population. I asked him if he recognized that he was sending this as a group text to a sister with 4 kids trying to go to school from home, to a brother with an at-risk (type 1 diabetic) spouse, to another brother (me) who works in a health care research system. I asked him if he could truly, actually state that out of every single republican in the entire United States, that there was not ONE single person better suited to lead our nation than the festering orange turd currently inhabiting the White House. He stopped texting me at that point.

We did not at all grow up in a conservative household. My other two siblings were kind of shocked that our older brother has gone full Fox News crazy. He joined the Army, he got deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. I spent his entire deployment working in a VA hospital, seeing the injuries that resulted from the war Bush started. I voted for the people who wanted to bring him home, but in his head I'm somehow a bad person for supporting social justice, peace, and equality. He came home, but he came home conservative. I don't get it.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:33 PM on September 18, 2020 [39 favorites]


"as the left has realized what the right is doing, why the hell aren't we also buying up media and using them?" - "Air America. now Chapo Trap House, MSNBC from 2017 on, both have elements of trying to inculcate resentment and paranoia in their audience. they just aren't completely cynical yet, and also not quite as skilled as News Corp."

The left doesn't use tribal-resentment media for the same reasons that Gandalf doesn't use the ring of Sauron.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:33 PM on September 18, 2020 [53 favorites]


I've lost my mom to a combination of Fox News, an echo-chamber of conservative Christians in person and on Facebook, and her own deep-seated lack of a sense of self. Worryingly, QAnon theories have now started to appear in her conversations and texts. She recently became outspoken with her disapproval of her sister's "sinful" lifestyle, i.e. being married for 20 years to a woman.

She took me to get birth control at 17. She never made me feel ashamed of my body, and counselled me on abortion facts and said she would support my decision of it ever came up. Didnt bat an eye when I came out as bisexual 15 years ago. She supported my stance of agnosticism, and encouraged me when I decided to practice zen meditation as a teenager.

Now her views have changed. She parrots racist rhetoric, sneers at social programs, and claims to be (or has always been) deeply Christian when in fact we never went to church or even discussed religion much when in was growing up. She is vocally distraught about my involvement with environmentalism and social justice groups, who she sees as the enemy.

Ironically, she supports herself primarily on social security and relies on Medicare, the very programs her political party plans to defund or outright destroy.

It makes me sad, but I've had to cut off contact with her almost entirely. I hope for her sake the socialism she despises continues to support her, because I certainly can't.
posted by ananci at 12:39 PM on September 18, 2020 [35 favorites]


I appreciate the focus on Fox, and the simultaneous acknowledgement that this problem does not begin and end with Fox. A good parallel to be made with Trump: the individual tends to suck all the air out of the room and we know the person represents a lot of wrongness even as we recognize that the wrongness is pervasive, systemic, and historical to the founding of the nation.

Not long ago someone posted the Action Button Review of Doom and he touches on the advertising on network television when he was a youth.. It feels like describing the problem is like being a fish describing water, it's all around us and it has always been there.
posted by elkevelvet at 12:43 PM on September 18, 2020 [3 favorites]


The last political comment to my fox parents was: you are racist and sexist, or ok with racism and sexism.

We don't talk politics now.
posted by j_curiouser at 12:44 PM on September 18, 2020 [4 favorites]


The left doesn't use tribal-resentment media for the same reasons that Gandalf doesn't use the ring of Sauron.

The idea that the news is _news_ -- a sacred trust, meant to be impartial and fact-based -- is an important one to the left-leaning world. It is up to news sources to get things right and to be trustworthy, not something that would require to choose your favorite source exceedingly carefully.

The news is supposed to tell you what _is_. A left-wing view on the world tells you what you need to hear, what is necessary to happen to get America to a better place. A right-wing view of this type tells you want you want to hear; that your perceived injustices are real, that the truth is always on their side, and that the remedies are very simple if the loudmouths on the other side would just sit down and shut up and listen to their betters.

If Fox or OANN or anything else on the conservative side of the ledger mixes up its facts, or if it presents a biased viewpoint, or if it is simply caught in a boldfaced undeniable red-handed LIE... it doesn't matter. It just doesn't matter. It is spun a dozen ways to make it look better from their perspective, or projection is used to accuse everyone else of their own failures, or the Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory simply adjusts itself slightly to accommodate the New Truth. What matters is not that they speak the truth; what matters is that they stand behind what they declare to be the truth, and yell it louder than the other side speaks.

But if a left-wing source errs, or a news report is found to be deficient, or if the slightest discrepancy is found, the other side leaps up and down in triumph and cackles about how everything they've accused others of is so obviously true -- that the left (which includes the center in their eyes) just makes everything up, that it's all Fake News, that the world operates according to conservative principles, that everyone left of themselves are liars and prevaricators and paid operatives of George Soros and that THEY are the one and only source of unvarnished truth.

And that works because the right's audience believes that, and the left's audience simply expects far better from its news sources.
posted by delfin at 12:51 PM on September 18, 2020 [15 favorites]


fox is right about one thing: the "culture war" is not just a distraction from covid or climate change.

when you live in a culture, culture war is the most important thing to worry about. i think everyone will come to see this as we get more and more rightwing paramilitaries in the streets.
posted by wibari at 12:52 PM on September 18, 2020 [7 favorites]


Delfin - I 100% agree that "The one-two punch of the end of the Fairness Doctrine and incremental deregulation of media ownership was the beginning of the end". But I remain stuck on the question of where to go from here? How to remedy that now decades-old damage?
posted by another_20_year_lurker at 12:55 PM on September 18, 2020 [3 favorites]


"… and, now, I don't know what's happened to Lindsey Graham. I'll be honest with you, I haven't talked to him in a long… He wrote—you know how Time Magazine has, like, the top 100 people and all that? One year, back a couple years ago when I was in it—he wrote the tribute to me. And then… now it's like… he's… it's like he had a brain snatch."

— Hillary Clinton, interviewed by Howard Stern, Dec 2019
posted by bz at 12:58 PM on September 18, 2020 [16 favorites]


My sister and I were talking, recently, about how we've both mostly given up on talking politics with our dad. He inevitably start arguing with the Rachel Maddow who lives in his head, instead of his actual daughters, whose opinions rarely align perfectly with The Left as depicted by his favorite news sources.
posted by nonasuch at 12:59 PM on September 18, 2020 [5 favorites]


Much of the left’s message is “there is a better way to do things”. I think when applied to propaganda media like TV, this does in fact come across as smug and elitist. Also, the neoliberals I think sold out a fair amount of blue color solidarity in their push for globalization (which Trump has really ironically taken advantage of).

My pet theory for the solve here is for liberals to coopt the language of economic justice. It’s easy to forget given the state of Christian communications but I think there is a message of equality baked in there that I think the liberals could really start to tap into. This is a message of spiritual hope, which I think Obama was able to subconsciously refer to.

Maybe every propaganda message needs an enemy, though!
posted by The Ted at 1:02 PM on September 18, 2020 [2 favorites]


I sometimes wonder if the only solution is for an entire generation to disown their parents and simply let them stew in their hate-juice until the inevitable lonely end.
posted by aramaic at 1:04 PM on September 18, 2020 [10 favorites]


We did not at all grow up in a conservative household. My other two siblings were kind of shocked that our older brother has gone full Fox News crazy. He joined the Army, he got deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. I spent his entire deployment working in a VA hospital, seeing the injuries that resulted from the war Bush started. I voted for the people who wanted to bring him home, but in his head I'm somehow a bad person for supporting social justice, peace, and equality. He came home, but he came home conservative. I don't get it.

Soldiers are very conservative in general. My 25 year Army sergeant was not bad until he went to Special Forces, and there he turned into a right wing loon. (He was in Civil Affairs, a branch of SF. Actual SF soldiers are actively dangerous and live in enclaves. I am only kind of kidding.) I base this on my 17 years of marriage to a sergeant, living near a big Army base and knowing a LOT of soldiers.

David has gone full on Fox News and fake news! and I'm just waiting for the QAnon stuff to come out of his mouth. I don't know how an otherwise sensible person could turn like this and it's awful to witness. His father was a racist old bastard and he's proud that he's not one ... and yet. He actually said something about Obama's birth certificate and I laughed in his face. He was quite insulted. He hauls out shit about Soros, but anti Semitism couldn't possibly explain the right's hatred for the guy. His treatment of female politicians is breathtakingly ugly.

The more I write these things out, the more I think I'll have to leave. Fucking fuckity fuck.
posted by corvikate at 1:11 PM on September 18, 2020 [37 favorites]


Delfin: What matters is not that they speak the truth; what matters is that they stand behind what they declare to be the truth, and yell it louder than the other side speaks.

George Lakoff argues that Americans often think of the country in terms of a family metaphor (sending our sons and daughters off to war, founding fathers, saying not in our backyard, etc.), but that there are dramatically different conceptions of what family is on the two ends of the political spectrum. Liberals view family as supporting the development and well-being of their family members, while conservatives view families in an authoritarian, top-down model. In that system, it makes sense that adhering to whatever the patriarch is saying today is more important than truth or consistency of the message. (NPR story on this here.)
posted by past unusual at 1:15 PM on September 18, 2020 [11 favorites]


The following:

"A leftright-wing view on the world tells you what you need to hear, what is necessary to happen to get America to a better place. A rightleft-wing view of this type tells you want you want to hear; that your perceived injustices are real, that the truth is always on their side, and that the remedies are very simple if the loudmouths on the other side would just sit down and shut up and listen to their betters."

is a great summary of what most Fox News viewers believe.

I don't want to draw a false equivalency between effects of conservative and liberal government in the United States. But it should at least be concerning that there's this perfect symmetry of partisan views between supporters of each side. Maybe one side just happens to be right, but it's likely that both sides are wrong about themselves and each other, for similar reasons.

I think all the pieces are there for liberals in the United States to become completely post-truth just like conservatives already have. This idea:

The idea that the news is _news_ -- a sacred trust, meant to be impartial and fact-based -- is an important one to the left-leaning world.

is still clinging to life and preventing this, but it seems to be eroding, which is not good. If people figure out the left-wing-Murdoch formula, and it becomes clear there's money in it, I think it will be completely dead.
posted by vogon_poet at 1:18 PM on September 18, 2020 [5 favorites]


You first, I guess? I just checked my bank balance and it turns out I don't have enough money to buy a national television network.
Because amassing the amounts of wealth to acquire media organizations requires one to adhere to very not-leftist values on screwing employees over to begin with.

There *are* progressive or at least centrist billionaires, though. Why is ownership of vast swathes of media landscape a foregone conclusion? And then of course there's the amount of funds raised towards political campaigning -- I don't have enough to buy a television network either but I've dumped about $1000 into various organizations and campaigns in the last two months so it's not like I'm not willing to put some money where I'd like there to be some mouthing.

And I get that progressive values are supposed to overlap with the reality-based community so what we just want presumably is... reporting. But this reminds me of Michael Lewis's observations about the NOAA/weather government operations in The Fifth Risk, where officials realized that in spite of getting really refined methods of good forecasts over decades, it really didn't mean much if they weren't getting better at understanding the psychology of the people the information was meant to help. People aren't merely dispassionate rational actors in the marketplace of ideas, and I think the right understands that better than the rest, as well as being more predisposed to the ethics of outright manipulation.

Who's doing the work here? Who's trying to make media better? How can I help them? If this really is a "you first" situation, I guess I could accept that but it just seems vanishingly unlikely that there aren't other efforts in play, but on the other hand, it's hard to see them working.
posted by wildblueyonder at 1:19 PM on September 18, 2020 [3 favorites]


It’s also important to point out that “My parents watched the bad TV and got racist off it” is clearly a much less serious problem than being someone whose life is put at risk by the type of stuff Fox News promotes.

I hate the minimization at the heart of this disclaimer. It's important to be aware of your own privilege re: not being subject to systemic injustice, but the brainwashing of millions of Americans by right-wing media is another subsystem of white supremacy. Another big arm.

It's huge & it's evil & it genuinely hurts people. It hurts society in general when people who used to teach their children love & tolerance start spewing hate 24/7. It hurts friends & family members to watch the shell of a person who used to exist, that they used to / still do care about, jerk around producing venom for the white supremacy machine.

It's genuinely really fucking bad, it's widespread & systemic, & if white people dismiss it as "Oh haha this thing where I can't talk to my mom again because she's a hate puppet now is a personal white-person problem & it's not as bad as what people of color face" we're both centering ourselves & minimizing the acquisition of millions of foot soldiers for the cause of white supremacy.
posted by taquito sunrise at 1:22 PM on September 18, 2020 [15 favorites]


Do we really think we can just ignore worldview manufacturing machines? Do we think that merely analyzing the situation and being contemptuous towards people who are easily pulled into it is good enough? Do we really *not* understand how to do this?

Or do we just not have enough damn money?


The key ingredients to make it work are the fear and anger, to light up the primal parts of the brain and get those fight-or-flight responses firing. Until Trump was elected, the left did not really believe it was existentially threatened the way that the right has believed for decades. Demographic changes, for instance, were and largely continue to be clearly on the left's side.

Since Trump's election, however, manufacturing a worldview that gets the left angry and scared the same way Fox News viewers have been angry and scared for years is definitely becoming a business that attracts grifters the same way the right-wing propaganda machine attracts grifters. That's not to deny that there are plenty of genuine reasons to be angry or fearful of the Trump administration, but I have a hard time seeing the Lincoln Project, for example, as anything other than some opportunistic grifters taking the right-wing playbook and seeing how much money they can make off using it on the scared people on the other side of the aisle. I definitely worry that it'll become the go-to playbook on the left as well, in time.
posted by mstokes650 at 1:25 PM on September 18, 2020 [6 favorites]


One key point to remember: the Fox News machine pays well.

One of the most sobering takeaways of Stelter’s reporting is that Fox foments fear and loathing not really because of a Big Brotherly impulse, but because the network has recognized that fear and loathing, as goods, are extremely marketable. In 2020, Stelter notes, Fox “is on a path to $2 billion in profits.”
posted by doctornemo at 1:30 PM on September 18, 2020 [1 favorite]


There *are* progressive or at least centrist billionaires, though.
I mean, that's two (plus the absent 'leftist') distinct buckets, though. And centrists already have their media consensus. CNN, MSNBC, NYTimes, The Economist; they're all pretty unified where they care to.

My sense of it is less "hah, we're immune to that" (if the rise of red/black alliance talk, or anti-vax/anti-mask talk if you prefer, has shown anything it's shown that's very not true) and more "the beliefs & actions required to accumulate the finances & power we're talking about are self-inoculating/preserving"
That old saw about "I didn't become rich by *giving* money away", writ large. But also less simplified than that.

To take the scale back down to something hopefully more with the reach of familiarity, it's each of those pressures of "Hey, now that you have a 401k, the market going up is an unalloyed good, right?", "Your house is an investment, right? Makes sense to protect it, you've got property value to worry about", "You've got to think about retirement, maybe invest in some real estate, get a duplex to rent out", etc. etc.

There's a lot of pressure to align to the gradient, and riding your way to the top takes a lot of that. And once you're there... why throw the ring into the fire? Don't you deserve to keep it? You could do so much good with it...
posted by CrystalDave at 1:35 PM on September 18, 2020 [6 favorites]


I've been thinking about that Gingrich linguistic strategy guide for a while (thanks to delfin and Artifice_Eternity for sharing links).

I used to teach it in rhetoric and composition classes back around 1991-2002. Very very useful thing. Students got it right away. It brought right to the fore issues of word choice and politics.

How do GOPAC's Optimistic Positive Governing Words and Contrasting Words map onto Fox language now?
posted by doctornemo at 1:42 PM on September 18, 2020 [1 favorite]


I also, however, wonder about using the legal system to destroy (or at least cripple) Fox -- they adjusted their news coverage of covid-19 specifically because they were worried about legal liability, which presumably means some of their early coverage may have already exposed them, so now might be a good time to try to file some lawsuits on behalf of folks whose Fox-addled parent died of the "chinese hoax".

...shouting fire in a crowded theater, and all that?

At minimum, there would be some really interesting things popping up during discovery and the desperate desire to avoid that might prompt some fiscally-rewarding settlements.
posted by aramaic at 1:44 PM on September 18, 2020 [2 favorites]


...shouting fire in a crowded theater, and all that?

Please, no.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 1:47 PM on September 18, 2020 [2 favorites]


You are surrounded by a vast sea of minds. Many of them cannot discern between information and manipulation. Profit!!!
posted by jim in austin at 1:53 PM on September 18, 2020


Thanks, past_unusual, I was wondering when someone would mention Lakoff. He had an astute model and diagnosis, but for many years he refused to offer specific language or frameworks for how to effectively communicate the liberal perspective. We loathe Gingrich, but he was and is playing the game that's dealt on the table.
posted by PhineasGage at 2:08 PM on September 18, 2020 [1 favorite]


My dad loved Bill O'Reilly. As a result, I never talked about politics with him. I'm infinitely grateful that he died before the ascent of Trump. I don't even want to imagine what it would have done to him.
posted by tommasz at 2:15 PM on September 18, 2020 [3 favorites]


One of the many oddities of the 20th century was that the media was almost entirely dominated by a single ideology. The three TV stations, radio, and the newspapers were all dominated by a very narrow stripe of the US: center-left, college-educated, rich white men. For decades, the 40% (at least) of the country that unabashedly believed that anyone non-white was sub-human and readily said as much, often using the N-word, were almost entirely absent from mainstream media. Not racism, of course, that was prevalent -- but in the media it was the racism of the center-left, not the flaming white nationalism that had and has always existed, but wasn't uttered by any of the talking heads on TV or in the national newspapers. Before the 20th-century media consolidation, there were tons of local newspapers with virulent explicit racism, but hundreds of them were driven out of business by nationalized radio, TV, and newspapers for at least half a century before the resurgence of cable TV, AM radio and the internet led to the re-emergence of right-wing media. That doesn't mean that that media resurgence didn't also cause an increase in right-wing beliefs, but in some way it was a return to underlying tendencies that had been suppressed by the center-left control of the media. Hopefully the fact that these hateful people can now find their ideological homes doesn't mean they can't be persuaded back towards the center, but the old trick of media dominance is probably not going to work again.
posted by chortly at 2:36 PM on September 18, 2020 [7 favorites]


Anybody remember when Fox was first created? What a joke it was? They had the Simpsons on, making jokes about them not being a network.

It was cute. Right? Right?
posted by Splunge at 2:56 PM on September 18, 2020 [1 favorite]


There *are* progressive or at least centrist billionaires, though.

There is no "we" that matters that includes both billionaires and me.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:59 PM on September 18, 2020 [13 favorites]


Since Trump's election, however, manufacturing a worldview that gets the left angry and scared the same way Fox News viewers have been angry and scared for years is definitely becoming a business that attracts grifters the same way the right-wing propaganda machine attracts grifters.

So, I'm on a number of Democrat campaign mailing lists because of signing petitions and donations, and I'm also on the Trump campaign mailing list, presumably because they bought my info or someone I know is playing a prank on me.

Anyways, the Trump emails are super aggressive and full on "Us vs. Them" to the point of frequently stating outright that "It's US vs. THEM! The SOCIALIST LIBERAL AGENDA wants to DESTROY AMERICA and they HATE REAL AMERICANS LIKE YOU!" (that's basically direct quotations). There's also a ton of marketing going on ("Get this signed MAGA hat! Do YOU want to meet Pres. Trump? He told me he wants to see YOU at the next rally!")

The Dem lists -- which include Biden, Harris, AOC, and various others -- oscillate wildly between gleeful Trump-hating and borderline hysteria. I will get one email that says, "Trump is PUKING right now because of this!" or "McConnell is on the RUN! Help us CRUSH him this election!", and then a few minutes later one that says, "It's over, Trump won..." or "We're crying right now, this is so disappointing."

So Trump is basically running on a strategy of inciting blind rage and fear against anyone who isn't "a REAL American" and the promise of a thrilling victory and show of power against all the libs, while Dems are running on a strategy of inciting rage and fear against specific politicians.

And it's hard not to feel like the whole thing is a scam, when both sides are constantly berating you for another donation ("We need this by TONIGHT and if you don't STEP UP, we're going to LOSE this election!").
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:08 PM on September 18, 2020 [8 favorites]


Maybe I'm totally wrong, but I suddenly feel that the main issue is that many or even most conservatives have a clientelist (spelling?) mindset. When I look at the conservative people in my family or among my friends and acquaintances, some are rich and some aren't at all. But they have in common that they feel it is necessary to suck up to the rich and powerful and that they feel that they get something back for their efforts. In that light, repeating some idiotic talking points makes sense: they are performing service. They also donate to politicians who they expect will reward the effort.

I have a couple of extremely rich self-made cousins, who probably mostly vote conservative in the countries they happen to live in if they have voting rights, and they are not at all clientelist. They are opportunistic, and think of their own interests first -- think taxes. I don't discuss this a lot with them, but my sense is that they just move if they don't like the politics of the place where they happen to live. They don't engage.
posted by mumimor at 3:11 PM on September 18, 2020 [3 favorites]


NYT: Facebook tried to limit Qanon: It Failed
"About 100 QAnon groups on Facebook tracked by The Times in the month since the rules were instituted continued to grow at a combined pace of over 13,600 new followers a week, according to an analysis of data from CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned analytics platform.

"That was down from the period before the new restrictions, when the same groups added between 15,000 and 25,000 new members a week. Even so, it indicated that QAnon was still recruiting new followers."
Independent: A third of republicans believe Qanon is 'mostly true.'
posted by kaibutsu at 3:15 PM on September 18, 2020 [2 favorites]


It is so bizarre that people will believe in a non-existent "deep state" of child molesters with ZERO actual evidence, but will deny that black people are targeted by cops when we see it every goddamn day on the news.
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:21 PM on September 18, 2020 [30 favorites]


Echoing from a dozen QAnon threads, but one of the things that helps QAnon endure and grow is its open-ended nature. It reinforces the notion that all "mainstream" news sources are compromised liars, it paints entire generations of politicians as borderline-Satanic enemies, and it repeats over and over that believers should "do their own research."

Which, of course, means "regurgitate what you read on your Facebook wall, or on 8kun, or on reddit, or on some crank's Twitter feed or website, because every source of information out there is just as valid as what the other 99% of the world agrees is the accurate truth."

And their news doesn't show black people targeted by cops. It shows heroic cops besieged by horrible thugs, desperately holding the line against waves of anarchy, Antifa and hurled killer milkshakes.
posted by delfin at 3:30 PM on September 18, 2020 [4 favorites]


This was really hard to read. I haven't seen my elderly mother in four years. I used to visit every fall and spring, but that fall I thought I would wait till after the election when things would calm down and I wouldn't have to hear about it.That clearly didn't happen.
posted by Occula at 3:38 PM on September 18, 2020 [3 favorites]


The left has never been as homogeneous, coherent, uniform, pick a word, as the right, which makes messaging and dog whistling and achieving a single voice much harder. Until the Tea Party blew in ten years ago the right was almost comically white, not working class, educated, and the left was a Big Tent for everyone else. Now there's some muddle on the right between the rabble making George Will uncomfortable in his own politics, but by and large they still have a far easier time switching between guns, anti-abortion and Outrage than the left does between BLM and the larger questions of racism in society, LGBTQ and the related issues of sex and gender in society, the environment, and oh-by-the-way guns, abortion and outrage in the opposite directions.

I guess the point is that Fox was a pure business play back when it was formed, and they chose the side with the easy message and easy money and they are winning in the boardroom, America be damned. Yellow journalism and "news" for profit has been around forever, but the level on cynicism and disregard for the country just leaves me needing a shower whenever I think about it.
posted by Cris E at 5:02 PM on September 18, 2020 [1 favorite]


The idea that the news is _news_ -- a sacred trust, meant to be impartial and fact-based -- is an important one to the left-leaning world.

Ehhhh. . . . *hand-waggling motion*

I think this is more a result of positioning than something inherent to the left-leaning world (although, yes, there have been some studies suggesting that conservative people may have different psychological responses to disgusting images or authoritarian concepts but these are not necessarily definitive and could be a "chicken-or-the-egg" situation.)

Once conservatives/Republicans began courting certain strains of conservative Christianity as a core base of their party & positions, they essentially had to become "anti-fact" and science deniers - if a crucial element of your voter base, your political power, rests on people who don't believe in evolution because of Biblical literalism, who believe that racism is mandated by God because "curse of Ham", who believe that homosexuality is a mortal sin that people engage in because they like sinning and has no biological base or causes whatsoever, who believe that the Bible supports and encourages anti-Semitism, who believe that increasing rights for women violates the Biblically-ordained order of human society, who believe that issues of women's health boil down to "killing babies", well . . . you can't tell them they're wrong or they'll go away. But you can't go all-in (in public, anyway) on their beliefs or you'll scare away other potential voters who might be less . . . dogmatic than your conservative Christians. So you dog-whistle and evade and cherry-pick to give your support for conservative Christian positions a sheen of "rationality" without alienating them.

IOW, you start moving away from a fact-based reality and reporting in order to both placate your crucial non-reality-based voters and to convince more reality-based voters that your positions are sensible.

(I think a similar dynamic has played out with the "business-friendly" element of the Republican Party regarding things like financial regulations and environmental regulations and economic policies & anaylses and climate change but while this may have further reaching existential consequences, I don't think it's had quite the same social, cultural, or political weight as the courting of religious culture warriors.)

TL:DR - facts and fact-based reporting are important to the left-leaning world because the right-leaning world specifically and directly chose to abandon them in order to gain and keep political power by getting in bed with a group already in denial of facts. Which is why many people point out that Trumpism is the not-unexpected result of a half-century or more of this alliance.

I guess the question I keep asking is -- as the left has realized what the right is doing, why the hell aren't we also buying up media and using them?

All of the above being a reason why attempts to build a left-wing version of Fox News have not really worked out - the more the right-wing drifted away from reality and facts, the more the left and center-left have become the Big Tent that incorporates multiple groups with multiple positions and agendas. Which means the left (very generally speaking) simply doesn't have the proportionate weight to trigger the sort of "facts-be-damned" emotional response that Fox News & etc rely on - someone will always pop up with a "Hey! What about this thing that needs to be considered?"
posted by soundguy99 at 5:25 PM on September 18, 2020 [9 favorites]


The Left tried, but MSNBC has never attracted the same size audiences.
posted by PhineasGage at 5:46 PM on September 18, 2020 [1 favorite]


I was recently thinking about how there's a real asymmetry in how conservatives view the Left versus how liberals views the Right and how that has come to be. Specifically, I think both sides seem to mainly get their impressions of the other side via their respective favored media (e.g.: conservatives hear about the Left via Fox News, liberals hear about the Right via the NYT). Of course, these respective media organizations do not behave at all in the same way when it comes to these depictions. Conservative media really goes out of its way to portray the Left in the worst possible light, while liberal and mainstream media often goes to out its way to give the Right the benefit of the doubt.
posted by mhum at 5:53 PM on September 18, 2020 [5 favorites]


I have some ideas about what an anti-Fox network might look like. My version would not be like MSNBC, aimed at college-educated progressive professionals, nor would it be a leftist mirror of Fox's fear, propaganda, and demagoguery. It's a network that would be targeted at many of the same people Fox targets... but with a goal of deescalation and deprogramming. It would not beam overt leftist propaganda at people. It would talk to them in their language, meeting them where they are, and try to gradually move them back towards a more pluralistic, tolerant, empathetic worldview.

I would make sure that many of the people on the staff were from rural America. It might not even start out with news programming at all -- just entertainment, pitched at a working-class audience. Gradually, documentary and news programming could become part of the mix. I imagine the vibe basically being like Sheriff Andy, taking good sense in plain language, cooling down the hotter heads in Mayberry... or like a Frank Capra movie. It's a nice dream, anyway. Maybe some billionaire will decide we need something like this. I hope so.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 6:34 PM on September 18, 2020 [17 favorites]


In my mind, an anti-FOX News would be something like the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp.) or BBC (British Broadcasting Corp.).

I have very little knowledge of their directorship and how they manage to do it, and they do have their faults, but if the CBC or BBC reports something, I still have confidence that it's more or less factual and that it there aren't any nakedly partisan massaging of those facts going on.

Both also do original programming outside of news, some of which are received with acclaim.

In the USA, I guess there's PBS and NPR, but my impression is that they're popularly viewed as the direct opposite of "sexy."

In college in a small town in Iowa (20-30 minutes drive to either Cedar Rapids or Iowa City) in the late 90s, I remember my cohort/ social group lamenting the dearth of the New York Times being available to purchase on campus and that CNN wasn't available. 2020's (and 2010's and... 2000's?) Metafilter generally denigrates both now.

At least everybody (who mattered to me) back then adored 'The Onion.'

The media landscape in the USA is unequivocally broken - and perhaps broken to an extent that barring a catastrophic change in demographics and perhaps (leading to) even some radical (global) "nationalization" and redistribution of wealth, I can't see the landscape going anywhere but continuing on it's path to Hell.

qv doctornemo's quote of "In 2020, Stelter notes, Fox “is on a path to $2 billion in profits.”
posted by porpoise at 7:25 PM on September 18, 2020 [1 favorite]


In my mind, an anti-FOX News would be something like the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp.) or BBC (British Broadcasting Corp.).

In Rupert's mind as well. This explains why the Australian arm of News Corpse spins so much propaganda about defunding and/or breaking up the ABC, which the Right consistently characterizes as having a strong left-wing bias even though study after study after study has shown that such is not the case. What it does have is a very strong honesty and integrity bias.

Sky News is basically our local echo of Fox. It's pretty much the same formula: get as many toxic, complacent, sneering, self-styled "conservatives" on screen as will fit and give them free rein to spout whatever garbage their privilege- and fear-addled brainstems vomit up today.

So far it's been nowhere near as culturally influential here as Fox has been in the US, largely because we do have the ABC - which has always punched well above its weight, given the near-total Murdoch domination of our local commercial press.
posted by flabdablet at 9:02 PM on September 18, 2020 [9 favorites]


I think I'm going to tell my dad (who is a reluctant Trump supporter, and not a QAnon type, thankfully) that his support of Trump actively endangers my life and the lives of people that I care about. Not only are Republicans in general terrible for higher education and the arts (the 2 fields I'm currently straddling), but also Trump&Co's increasingly bald-faced suggestions to the base to use violence against his political opponents, protesters, and anyone who might be different enough to be scary put more and more people at risk every day. And if there's a time to take to the f'ing streets, it's to prevent Trump from getting a 3rd pick for the Supreme Court, because that basically guarantees 4+ more years of Trump. I continue to be tremendously disappointed in myself that I only went out for the police brutality protests a couple of times, and even then a few days after the tensions had subsided in my city. At this point, I honestly don't know how I'd live with myself if I couldn't say that I did as much as I could with the time we've got left before the fall of democracy. So, yeah, I will be out there Dad, and your support of Trump empowers the cops that may beat and/or murder me and many others.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:57 PM on September 18, 2020 [3 favorites]


I was recently trying to figure out a leftish, “horseshoe” analog to the right wing media in order to lead a friend’s elderly father away from the fascists. He now hates the Democrats, etc, so nothing pro-Democrat will do, and indeed no path is likely to bring him back to that in his remaining life. So failing that we just wanted half a vote, to at best get him to throw away his vote on a third party or not vote. But to do even that requires alternative media that supply the similar high of gimmicks and conspiracies and heightened emotions that the right-wing junk he gets from Facebook and email and the like deliver daily, otherwise it can’t compete. So the question was what was the most harmless nutty political news media source we could find that wouldn’t trigger him with pro-Democratic content but would provide the same conspiratorial excitement his somewhat senile brain gets from the right wing stuff, so we could mix it into his feed and slowly wean him at least far enough to stop voting Trump. We remain puzzled.
posted by chortly at 10:04 PM on September 18, 2020


It's also a form of hegemony, in that Fox News et al. are imposing a certain way of interpreting the world around us, and then those who have had that understanding imposed on them use the tools they've been given to actively maintain and spread that worldview. It's kind of like a virus using the tools of the cell to reproduce, only in this case they are using the tools of the mind for understanding the world to reshape the minds of others.

Yes, first it was the British Raj across the worldwide dominions and colonies, then it was replaced by Hollywood, blue jeans, and coca cola after WW2.
posted by infini at 11:18 PM on September 18, 2020 [1 favorite]


Media ownership - Bezos owns WaPo - so I try and avoid it

https://www.currentaffairs.org/2020/08/the-truth-is-paywalled-but-the-lies-are-free

Not sure if that was from a link here on the blue - but it looks at the broader issue

And Murdoch also owns the Wall Street Journal, which I think has declined under his control.

I actually think that the publication approach is a good model. If you are only going to publish once a day/week/month - there is time for research, there is a disincentive to go for the evanescant and concentrate on a substantial issue which will not be superseded by the next headline.

Yeah - I stopped watching TV in 1980.
posted by Barbara Spitzer at 1:35 AM on September 19, 2020


Once conservatives/Republicans began courting certain strains of conservative Christianity as a core base of their party & positions, they essentially had to become "anti-fact" and science deniers
I think the whole of soundguy99's comment is very relevant, but this is the central point. Conservatives in countries without a Murdoch press aren't as rabid. Angela Merkel is a conservative politician, she isn't at the right end of her party, but none of the Christian Democrats have given up on science.

We are going through an interesting example of this right now in Denmark. Our very racist former Minister for Immigration, Integration and Housing, Inger Støjberg, has most likely broken the law during her term by separating asylum seeking couples if the women was under 18, regardless of the couple's own wishes. The excuse was that she was protecting "child-brides"*. So now parliament has ordered an inquiry, which is called the "instruction inquiry", because the core of the matter is wether the minister instructed her officials to break the law. She, and some people in her party are trying to spin the story in Trump style by calling it the "child-bride inquiry", and there is not one media outlet that has taken the bait.
One of the biggest FB groups in Denmark is called "Denmark does not support Støjberg", and there are members from across the board and every corner of the country, agreeing that the rule of law is more important than party politics. I think one reason for this non-partisan agreement is that even our yellow press is reporting correctly and fairly about it.

* a fun fact: until Støjberg and her pals started chasing Muslims, it was legal for under-18s to marry with parental permission. The Princess Anne-Marie married King Constantine of Greece at 16.
posted by mumimor at 2:13 AM on September 19, 2020 [9 favorites]


I guess the question I keep asking is -- as the left has realized what the right is doing, why the hell aren't we also buying up media and using them?

the left are merged into the liberal, and the terms rebranded as synonyms to hide the crime. the liberal party marginalizes leftists with a cynical efficiency they'd never use against the right (either within their party or among the opposition). liberals have no substantial quarrel with the economic goals of the formal opposition, which are the goals of an entrenched plutocracy. in the monstrosity that is the left collapsed into liberalism, actual leftist aims are subverted at every turn.

in this imbalance, the liberals act as a brake on the excesses of the right, an agent for cosmopolitan and humanist values (this part I support and am proud of), and a trap ensuring that any stray leftist ideas are neutralized before becoming policy.
posted by idiopath at 2:04 PM on September 19, 2020 [1 favorite]


I guess the question I keep asking is -- as the left has realized what the right is doing, why the hell aren't we also buying up media and using them?

My suspicion is that the left also fell for the conservatives' decades-long marketing campaign to convince its adherents, and the media, that the media is "liberal." Not that it wasn't uncommon for the Sunday talk shows to have a member of the media representing the "liberal" side against a conservative talking head, and that even now the media is often careful to frame objective facts that contradict the conservative narrative as "Democrats say."

So the left believes that the media is liberal while the refs have actually been so thoroughly worked by the right that the media bends over backwards to give conservative points of view the benefit of the doubt they do not deserve.
posted by Gelatin at 6:14 AM on September 21, 2020 [5 favorites]


In 2020, Stelter notes, Fox “is on a path to $2 billion in profits.”

It is worth noting that this isn't so much because of advertising, they've taken a huge hit in that area lately. Lots of advertisers have abandoned them. But they still make money, because cable companies pay the networks that air on them a fee, and Fox's fee is much higher than the average. These fees basically subsidize their propaganda. Twitter thread
posted by JHarris at 3:12 PM on September 23, 2020 [3 favorites]


There *are* progressive or at least centrist billionaires, though. Why is ownership of vast swathes of media landscape a foregone conclusion? And then of course there's the amount of funds raised towards political campaigning -- I don't have enough to buy a television network either but I've dumped about $1000 into various organizations and campaigns in the last two months so it's not like I'm not willing to put some money where I'd like there to be some mouthing.

Why do you think the Democratic party is so focused on socially liberal issues and has little to say about wealth redistribution? It's easy to find billionaires who have socially liberal points of view, why wouldn't it be, right? On the other hand, finding billionaires who are against the existence of billionaires at all is pretty hard! (There are a small number of high profile billionaires who are against the existence of long term generational wealth like Buffet and Gates but they're not objecting to the accumulation phase of billionaire creation).
posted by atrazine at 1:30 AM on September 25, 2020 [1 favorite]


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