Despite the frequent lies and distortions pushed forth by Fox News, and specifically by the likes of Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, Fox News continues to drive a plurality of viewers to its TV shows. Why would anyone watch Fox News’ reports if they are so deceptive and misleading?
1. A strong market for protestant-Christian views in the United States.
Where else can you go to watch criticism on evolution, and non-Christian values? For non-stop criticism on evolution, you’d have to go to the creationist history museum. For a more liberal twist on religion you could watch CNN bash and ridicule atheists and agnostics; but for profit, and at the expense of reason, the major news networks acknowledge that religious controversies are better fueled than ignored. The invention of new controversies like “wars on Christmas” or whether Barack Obama is actually a practicing Muslim in disguise (and by implicit extension whether he is a terrorist or not), generates viewership, regardless of the merit of the fabricated story.
2. A jingoist and elitist “journalistic” culture.
What other news network displays red, white and blue, or the U.S. flag, non-stop? Whether the controversy is illegal immigration or the war in Iraq, no one will enrage you more than Bill O’Reilly’s tabloid journalism, regardless of whether you agree with his talking points or not. Tabloid journalism is not new, however, the sleek computer-generated graphics and the disappointingly-intelligent, self-important commentators can capture the attention of even some well-educated viewers, who if not fooled by the misleading, fabricated, or poorly-sourced material, are accused of being or implied to be un-American through a psychological (but clearly fallacious) tactic reminiscent of 1950s McCarthyism.
The underlying message typically is, if you don’t agree with our “news” or our interpretation, then you are a traitor. Bush said so. We can’t afford to think otherwise.
The same group mentality is fostered by the deceptively-playful morning shows, where the participants (news anchors is not a good title,) go from one pointless or mundane story to the next, talking casually as buddies or friends, but intermittently highlighting a real or manufactured political event to inject a Christian-conservative slant on the controversy of the day.
Whether or not you agree with the content or lack thereof, it is difficult to turn off the channel. Controversy is interesting, and tabloids sell. But when the controversy appeals to your dogmatic and/or erroneous beliefs, your only source of semi-intelligent debate comes from the mouth of Bill O’Reilly.
In other words, if you can’t normally defend your jingoist, “Christian”, or elitist political views (because they are just wrong), Fox News provides you with the ammunition to do so.
3. The symbiotic relationship with the Bush Administration.
Because the agendas of Fox News and the Bush administration coincide in large part, Fox News can deceive the public to enable the Bush administration, and the Bush administration can send exclusive leads to Fox News before they are made available to other networks.
4. We are in danger all the time.
If you follow the Homeland Security terror alert (eternally present on Fox News’ news ticker), or listen to Fox News, we are constantly under attack by terrorists from Osama Bin Laden to Barack Obama and his “sugar mama”. Fear captivates. If Bill O’Reilly can get away with scaring old people (the plurality of his viewers are old people) into believing that Christmas is going to end this year, he will. If he can shock Christians with indecent pictures of young actresses, or perhaps entice them to watch his show safely with the pretext of outrage, he will do that too.
For a commentator who pretends to oppose nudity and embrace Christian values, his show and others on Fox News certainly appear to do the opposite most of the time.
5. No significant alternatives in U.S. media.
It’s not necessary to place all the blame on FOX News. Lou Dobbs on CNN does plenty of fear-mongering about immigrants and the potential demise of the English language. Or watch any presidential debate and watch the subtle manipulation via the choice and number of questions for the candidates.
Why would the choice questions make a difference? Well, if you consider that a network-favored candidate will receive more opportunities to clarify a statement, will receive more airtime, and will therefore be more familiar to the average voter. Voters vote based on familiarity when not informed. These voters influence the next set of poll results, which are not necessarily a reflection of true political preference, but rather simple name recognition.
People who are serious about understanding politics won’t rely only any single source. A good portion of the news we get from CNN and CBS and Fox News is much closer to entertainment than news-worthy information, and even when the information is intended as news, it is filtered, distorted and framed to be controversial, or entertaining, or to fit a point of view. Other countries and cultures also have an influence on their national news, but it is widely acknowledged that serious international sources tend to be more neutral and objective when reporting news.
Sadly, there is less demand for accurate news than there is for thrilling-ambulance-chasing-tabloid material or news that appeals to religious and jingoist nuts. And even if there were more demand for accurate news, most of us in this part of the world couldn’t tell the difference.
Michael, the current administration isn’t running, whether or not Obama gets elected. You are offering a false dichotomy.
Hillary is taking cheap shots at Obama
Since when is this a good reason to vote for someone? Maybe Obama deserves your sympathy. But your vote? I thought you opposed the war in Iraq. So why vote for Obama? He too wants to stay in Iraq permanently.
Fahrenheit 9/11 was an entertaining documentary. You took some cheap shots at some politicians, but that’s not a good reason for me to vote for those politicians, is it? in Fahrenheit 9/11 you criticized our occupation of Iraq, and yet, Obama intends to deploy permanent bases.
I do applaud you for seeing through Hillary’s warmongering neoconservative leanings, but the fact that Hillary doesn’t deserve a vote is a very weak argument for voting for Obama. A lot of people look up to you without thinking for themselves. You are asking Pennsylvania to oppose Hillary, a bad choice, for Obama, another nearly equivalent bad choice. If you dislike the Bush administration, and their policies, why mislead the people of Pennsylvania into voting for Obama, who intends to pursue the current agenda?
If you want to persuade people to vote for Obama, at least offer some persuasive reasons. “Hillary sucks” and “the current administration sucks” are not good reasons to vote for Obama.
If you get busy, like me, you may have stopped following Ron Paul’s progress after the Primary results came in. It’s not that I lost interest in Ron Paul’s politics, but rather that I lost interest in modern U.S. presidential politics.
What are we left with as viable candidates? There is Obama, Hillary, and McCain.
Obama started out as a promising candidate. He became an overnight sensation due to his age, and skin color. Partially as a linguistic remnant of our racist past, Obama is referred to as black, despite the fact that his genetic make-up is better described as multi-racial. Yet, Obama’s legitimate newness in the realm of politics does not appear to transfer in policy.
Obama fills a void. He offers Rorschach-ink-blot-style symbolism. A candidate who fulfills your every political desire, even if you change your mind tomorrow. For all the empty buzz about Obama, there are a few things that stand out in his policy-making. Obama does offer the voter an exit from Iraq. When? Soon. Maybe. He also offers neoconservatives hope that we may invade Pakistan someday under his “leadership”.
We get a sense of justice from a theoretical Obama presidency. Finally, a “member” of a much maligned “race” in recent history, especially in the United States, gets a chance to hold one of the most powerful political positions in the world.
There is not a single enlightened person in the world who does not feel good about this possibility. In today’s racially-tense urban areas, particularly well-depicted by the movie Crash, such an event resolves a deep cognitive dissonance shared at many levels by “white” people who are constantly labeled “oppressors” - ironically oppressed occasionally by policies enacted with benevolent intent, such as affirmative action.
And Obama’s policies do not deviate from this pattern of humanitarianism. He wants to pursue more affirmative action, create programs that encourage students to fill 50 hours of community service, and enable civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.
As a matter of political savvy, or perhaps hypocrisy, Obama stands against actual marriage for gay and lesbian couples. Though incremental steps are always wise, one must wonder why Obama has chosen to hide his intentions, if he indeed favors gay marriage. Some theorize it has to do with appealing to the Christian vote. After 8 years of incompetence, Obama is a welcome sight, but in terms of “new”, the only thing he offers is his background.
There’s little to say about Hillary, whose policies mirror those of Obama’s. The only contrast between Hillary and Obama is a heightened sense of fakery and disingenuity, from her fake laughs to her unlikely emotional outbursts during televised events.
Well, Hillary does offer more to neoconservative-leaning folk. She is ambiguous about Iraq, but less ambiguous about pursuing conflict with Iran. And she is definitely not ambiguous about protecting Israel at all costs simply because Israel is an ally. One wonders if the defense industry chose to fund her for her interest in Israel, or if she developed an interest for Israel as a result of the funding.
Where Obama’s background appeals and Hillary’s repels, McCain’s background also offers the voter a chance to sympathize. A former prisoner of war who refused to use his familial connections to escape Vietnam without his fellow soldiers, McCain appears deserving of sympathy.
One would expect such an experience to change a person for the better. Why, then, does McCain insist on provoking Iran with an attempt to get them kicked off the Soccer World Cup? Why, if he so despises torture, does McCain insist on resolving conflict through war? Is this a case of “to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail”?
Perhaps McCain could conduct a war more responsibly than his predecessor. Perhaps anybody could. But is he wise enough to ask himself why we need war in the first place?
Ron Paul is not without his shortcomings. But in the areas that are relevant to the presidency, Ron Paul shines. Foreign Policy and Economics. Ron Paul’s presidential bid offered hope to the families of soldiers deployed in Iraq. It also offered a platform that differed from most others. The difference? Substance.
While most candidates were out distorting facts to fit their platform and appealing to emotion, Ron Paul stuck to the facts. Factcheck.org released some criticism on Ron Paul’s claims that the Iraq War was costing the United States 1 trillion dollars a year. They claimed they had not criticized Ron Paul because of his visibility (lack thereof), which may be true. However, their insinuation that Ron Paul was exaggerating is misleading at best.
The central question
What happened to Ron Paul is at one level, very simple: Ron Paul’s policies are counter-intuitive. Fighting racism by dissolving affirmative action? Enabling gay rights by leaving the government out of marriage? Fighting drug-related violence by legalizing drugs?
Ron Paul is not without blame. When faced with questions regarding a newsletter published under his name, Ron Paul should have gone as far as to produce the name of the ghostwriter(s). His counter-intuitive (but intelligent) libertarian-leaning solutions were too consistent, whether by chance or by design, with some of the ideas expressed in the infamous politically-incorrect newsletters.
Had the writings been his own, an admission with contextual explanation would have sufficed. Everyone who has heard Ron Paul speak knows that he has either never uttered such non-sense, or it no longer represents his informed views. Then, again, giving a false rumor undue attention would have also backfired.
Ron Paul’s misplaced emphasis on NAFTA and the hypothetical North American Union and his association with unsavory individuals or organizations, whether mutual or not, fueled perceptions that Ron Paul was a “kook”.
The mainstream media ultimately earns the blame for Ron Paul’s mostly disappointing official poll numbers. Not just because they distorted the results on occasion, or asked him irrelevant or loaded questions at the debates; The media deserves the majority of the blame because they censored him every chance they had. This is not a “conspiracy theory” in the modern sense of the word. The censorship and misrepresentation is well-documented, on occasion by the offenders themselves, when it suited ratings.
A Ron Paul presidency was a long-shot. Especially from the beginning. However as Ron Paul’s supporters organized massive one day donations, the media began to take notice and Ron Paul’s numbers in the polls improved dramatically. After all, you can be featured in a debate, asked irrelevant questions and still get little coverage on the news. As an avid Ron Paul supporter I might watch every debate he is featured in, but what about the average uninformed or uninterested voter who sees the Ron Paul-less highlights on CNN or FOX News? This is why Ron Paul could give the most intelligent answers, and generally outperform the other candidates at the debates, and still be relatively unknown.
Add to the general media blackout the typical misrepresentation, and you have voters believing Ron Paul has “no chance” even before the official results come in. Had Ron Paul been given an equal amount of fair airtime on the news as Obama, or Giuliani, when Ron Paul announced his candidacy, the results would be dramatically different. There is no delusion here - Ron Paul would have still had to work hard at better explaining his ideas, and his ideology would not appeal to all who were accurately exposed to it. Nevertheless, the mainstream media didn’t do Ron Paul any favors. Not in the way they gave Obama and Giuliani a free pass.
Ironically, the premature labels of “non-factor” and “he has no chance” would have been better suited for Giuliani, whose only source of viability was a fake expertise on terrorism, and a willingness by the mainstream media to monetize a symbolic figure of IX.XI.
Do you want substance in your elected leaders? You may need to move to the 14th Congressional district.
[l]ibertarianism has experienced a resurgence likely to resonate in politics for quite some time. I did not agree with Ron Paul on some issues, and I don’t think strict libertarianism is the answer to everything. But at a time when liberties are threatened by irrational fears, a little reasonable freedom couldn’t hurt. We can all thank Ron Paul for bringing this to the global stage.
The next 8 years could be very long. Fortunately, Giuliani’s authoritarianism will not be a factor. Now we only have to worry about a 100-year war, and/or more deficit spending in the name of equality with a dash of dogmatic authoritarianism.
In the pursuit of responsibility and peace of mind, I may vote against a 100-year war for the alternative 5-6 years of war and limited interference abroad. Nevertheless, I’d much rather abstain from that “choice” and write-in Dr. Ron Paul as a statement of disapproval.
I had wanted to speak to him about Ron Paul’s exclusion in the debates. Several Ron Paul supporters found and posted his direct office line so I called.
He was very polite. He thought I was calling about Duncan Hunter, then I said it was actually Ron Paul.
I told him I thought they should be concerned about excluding Ron Paul. He sort of cut me off and said, “You are concerned”. And I said, “yes, but I’m also concerned that FOX News is going to miss out because Ron Paul is pretty interesting guy”. He said that was subjective. I said that for example, Google makes a lot of money off Ron Paul.
He told me Google only makes money off advertising, but not Ron Paul. I corrected him and told him Ron Paul drives traffic to sites, and that in fact, people bid on keywords and that Ron Paul’s keywords are worth more than those of other candidates. He said that’s the case because a lot of his base is on the internet, to which I agreed.
He said a lot of people thought they were trying to exclude Ron Paul because of some special agenda, but he said that they had established a criteria about needing 10% in the national polls because the coming debate in NH would be very focused. But that there will be another debate on Thursday in South Carolina which Ron Paul will be in, and that in fact, Alan Keys will not, because he didn’t meet the criteria.
Sometime before the call ended, I also told him people were selling their NWS stock because of the exclusion, and he said, “Well, people have the right to be angry at us and sell their shares. This happens from time to time.”
I thanked him, told him I didn’t want to waste too much of his time and that I’d tell other people not to call him about that. Then he said, “no, I’m actually taking time off to answer phone calls, so it’s quite alright.”
It was kind of surprising that he was so polite.
Be nice if you call, and try not to ask the same questions I asked, alright?
How can I be mad at FOX News and John Moody now? I recommend you don’t call John Moody; he is too polite and reasonable. You might actually start to think FOX News is fair. Can you live with the cognitive dissonance?
You deserve praise for openly discussing Ron Paul on FOX News. I wonder if you had to take a pay a fine every time you said Ron Paul’s name, or for every second you discussed him. I know you will be getting a lot of positive emails from Ron Paul supporters.
Just one objection: You continue to assume Ron Paul will not win the nomination, which is an understandable assumption. But it is an assumption, and some of your colleagues have been very wrong on their assumptions. For example Michael Steele had said Ron Paul “[is] done” after the first debate in South Carolina almost 8 months ago.
In fact, you are perpetuating a self-fulfilling prophesy. Ron Paul doesn’t really need your debates more than he needs positive exposure and name-recognition. This is key in marketing. Some Ron Paul supporters sometimes give Ron Paul a bad name via their obsessive campaigning or their wide variety of views. Ron Paul appeals to many distinct groups because everyone wants liberty, including liberty from each other. But I digress slightly; the point is, you (the media) hardly discuss Ron Paul’s stances in depth. You barely touch the surface of Ron Paul’s stances, and at the surface, his stances look quite ‘kooky’. Sadly, Ron Paul doesn’t promote himself with cheap soundbites, so that doesn’t help make your job easier, but now that he has a solid 10% anchor in Iowa you have a justification for taking Ron Paul seriously and discussing his stances beyond the surface.
It’s not your job to make Ron Paul look good, but presumably, it’s not your job to make him look bad either. Do you want high ratings? Discuss Ron Paul in depth. Even people who disagree with him are intrigued by what he actually believes. His views are counter-intuitive. Not all of them are strictly pragmatic or even objectively correct. But they are certainly thought-provoking.
If Ron Paul has no chance, then what’s the harm in giving him even airtime? He is certainly more interesting than Britney Spears (though arguably not as good-looking). A common technique used by websites is to talk about Ron Paul. It increases viewer traffic so much that Google makes more money on bids for Ron Paul’s name as a keyword than any other candidate. FOX News is already revolutionary in marketing and propaganda (I mean this in a positive way); you can hold an audience’s attention like no other news network. Now add some substance (Ron Paul) and you’ll make a killing. CNN is beginning to take advantage of this insider knowledge, and now that Ron Paul has secured some credibility in Iowa there is no shame in taking Ron Paul seriously.
If you are looking for substance and higher ratings, give Ron Paul a call. Take a hint from Shepard Smith and Greta Van Susteren.
Many of you have wanted to help Ron Paul in one way or another, but you are not allowed to donate to Ron Paul’s campaign, or you may have maxed out your allowable contribution. Well, here is an easy way to help, which may benefit you in more than one way: Sell all your NWS stock.
Teach FOX News a lesson. Make them bleed green until they put Ron Paul back into the debates.
Probably coincidental, but it need not be if people start selling now. Even if people are skeptical that it has anything to do with Ron Paul supporters, it would be smart to sell your NWS stock just to be safe.
And, yet, an irrational “strategy” as such would foment more terrorism:
It is necessary to note that relative deprivation
creating exclusion is a comprehensive phenomenon. It
is not merely a socio-economic driver. In fact, relative
deprivation in terms of political space and human
dignity is often even more significant than socioeconomic
factors. The Palestinians in Israel-occupied
territories, whose mobility is curtailed by the Israeli
defence forces, feel deprived of dignity. The Tamils in
Sri Lanka, who have to give up their linguistic advantage
and political balance of power because of constitutional
changes, feel deprived. The Acholis were socioeconomically
deprived for years but it wasn’t until the
Musevini government began to target them specifically
that they took up arms. The Moros of the Philippines
who see migrants from other parts of the country
dominating their economy feel relatively deprived not
just in an economic sense but also in a political and
cultural context. The Iraqis who see their country
overtaken by an external force feel relatively deprived
irrespective of the economic condition of any
Another reason why “terrorism” is a poor qualifier. We define terrorism to suit our “needs”.
It is possible for any ideology, delivered by
determined and able leaders, anywhere in the world, to
transform those feeling excluded from their society
into terrorists or extremists. In public discourse,
however, there is an unfortunate effort made to
emphasize certain forms of terrorism. As the global
power structure is dominated by the West, attacks on
Western interests are defined as terrorism. The attacks
that do not target the United States and its allies are
defined as acts of ethnic conflict, freedom struggle, or
Terrorism is vague and ill-defined. A “terrorist nation” is too, by consequence.
Western discourse on terrorism, with a focus on
Islamist extremism, is therefore neither entirely about
terrorism nor about Islamist extremism. It is not
entirely about terrorism because it does not include
terrorism practised by several national, sub-national
groups, labeling some of them as liberation
movements. It is not entirely about terrorism because
it hardly considers rural-based revolutionary
organisations, responsible for killing thousands of
people in Asia and Latin America. It is not entirely
about Islamist extremism because it blames the groups
in the Middle East that have no ambition to alter the
international order, while giving inadequate attention
to the specific organisations that want to establish a
Caliphate by violent means and that are positioning
themselves to succeed Al Qaeda in the International
Islamic Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders. In
ignoring the threats of terrorism around the world
from nationalist, sub-nationalist and revolutionary
groups that commit violent acts and ignoring the threats
posed by Central and South Asian Islamist
organisations to the global security, Western discourse
is selectively focussed on the Middle East. It is more
about the strategic interests of the West in a particular
region than the threats to humanity emanating from
the ideologies of mass destruction.
The media manipulates the focus and definition of terrorism by framing.
The mutually obsessive discourse in Western and
Islamic societies is manipulated by the media, either
by design or otherwise. If North Korea tests a nuclear
weapon the news disappears from the front page of
most newspapers within a couple of days. If Iraq or
Iran is suspected to have even the most elementary
capacity to develop such a weapon, this is major
news for months after months. If Lord’s Resistance
Army forces children to kill their siblings in thousands,
it is a human interest story that appears only
occasionally in the inside pages. If Iran’s President
threatens Israel, it is major news and the subject of
endless op-ed analysis.
In short, terrorism exists on exclusion. Especially unfair exclusion and perceived loss of dignity.
What do you suppose a disproportionate and ignorant measure like banning students from “terrorist nations” accomplishes?
It gets ignorant people to feel good about their safety. It excludes more people who are already living under conditions that fuel terrorism, and it completely misses the point.
Rarely has a more ignorant proposal been advanced – and it is made even worse by the fact that this is Ron Paul we’re talking about.
To begin with, it is odd, indeed, for a libertarian to be invoking the concept of collective guilt: is every citizen of these unnamed “terrorist nations” to be declared persona non grata on account of the actions of a minuscule number of their countrymen?
Secondly, just which nations is Rep. Paul talking about? Fifteen of the 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia: two were from the United Arab Emirates, one was Egyptian and another one hailed from Lebanon. Is Paul seriously saying that we should deport the thousands from these countries studying in the US? And why stop there? Why allow anyone from these so-called “terrorist nations” entry into the US for any reason whatsoever – just to be on the safe side?
This is pandering to the worst, Tom Tancredo-esque paranoia and outright ignorance (or do I repeat myself?) and is not worthy of Dr. Paul. I have the utmost respect for the candidate, but in using this unfortunate term, “terrorist nations,” the Good Doctor undermines his non-interventionist foreign policy stance.
I have received a lot of criticism for not remaining quiet on the issue, but I’m not going to play to the “sheep” stereotype that some Ron Paul supporters are fomenting.
If Ron Paul wants to run ads that contradict his rhetoric, he better be prepared to be criticized by supporters like myself who have been campaigning for him since he tore Giuliani into shreds on the very topic of terrorism.