Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Neuroticism of Fox News

My thoughs on the powerhouse, FOX NEWS:

Lets face it. Fox News isn’t a news source, per se. It’s a network that is, by design, set up to propagate a specific political view point, that of the political right wing. Fox is neither fair nor balanced, and oftentimes “facts” conveyed on the network are demonstrably false. Yet there are many out there who think they are the ony source for news that they trust. Now I watch Fox News (Studio B with Shepard Smith, Neil Cavuto, Bret Baier & Bill O'Reilly), but Im not a Fox News addict. I tend to spread it around & watch other news outlets.


As a viewer, I noticed a few things:

Fox like to use the “us vs. them” mentality. Although Fox News is very much a part of the mainstream media, being owned and operated by News Corp. and having the largest market share of cable news, Fox positions itself as an outsider and paints the rest of the mainstream media is evil and biased.

This position insulates Fox from criticism. If, for example, CNN runs a story that refutes all or part of a Fox News report, it’s irrelevant because that’s the “Communist News Network.” If NPR, The New York Times, Washington Post, or any other reputable news agency contradicts a story run by Fox, it’s incredulous because they’re liberal and socialist. The “other” news outlets have a supposed agenda which instantly makes them illegitimate.

In some cases, as with MSNBC or The Nation there is a clear, and often acknowledged, liberal slant. However the vast majority of reporting by mainstream news outlets is not biased im my opinion.

Another example of such rhetoric is, “Why isn’t the mainstream media covering 'such and such' story? Clearly they’re biased.” In fact, when Fox News makes these claims it’s really an exemplification of their own bias. The story that they’re highlighting has usually been covered in the rest of the media, but just not given the prominence that Fox as elevated it to. As a recent example, Fox devoted days of coverage to criticizing President Obama for appearing on the daytime talk show, The View. NBC, ABC, CNN, and print media all gave the event appropriate coverage. Fox News, however, exposes their own bias against the President by using the issue to attack him personally and tie it into a grand theory of a vast socialist conspiracy, which it’s not. Really, it’s just the President going on a TV show.

FOX likes to call itself Fair & Balanced. At times they are Fair, but short on balance. It is true that on several FOX shows, guests are invited to speak on behalf of both sides of an argument, but that is irrelevant. When the host spends the lead-in advocating one position, spends the discussion criticizing one party, and then follows it with mockery, there is nothing fair or balanced about the media presentation. The audience is being led to the conclusion that the network has preordained.

Fox appeals to conservatives to look down upon people who’ve graduated from “the liberal elite Ivy League,” while at the same time appealing to conservatives who do place value in higher education. The trick is to just say that’s not what they really meant. Those who want to believe the original sentiment see this as a wink (after all, even Fox has to appeal to the liberals or else face their wrath), and those who don’t take it at face value.

From Glenn Beck (who I used to watch before he went off the Grand Canyon) comparing the current administration to Nazis. Painting the President and democrats in the color of hated leads viewers to looking at them all, Nazis and democrats alike, in the same light, to have the same feelings about Obama as they have about Hitler. Comparing democrat to communist to socialist, socialism ( a term that was first used by southern democrats in the 1930s to describe FDR & his Government Policies) have become even more toxic to the conservative American than the word "liberal".

In all, Fox News like to play on the fears of many Americans, as well play up cultural issues such as the whole flap about Hip-Hop artist Common appearance at a White House Function.

Two weeks ago, Fox News’ Sean Hannity tried to create a controversy over the rapper Common’s invitation to a White House poetry event. Citing a lyric in which Common criticized President Bush for lying to the American people and leading the nation into an unjust war, Hannity tried to paint the rapper as dangerous and "controversial,” the kind of person the Secret Service needed to vet. The lyric in question: "Burn a Bush ‘cause for peace he no push no button/ Killing over oil and grease/no weapons of destruction."

I had never heard of the lyric until two weeks ago, but there is no way that this man was advocating "Burn" Bush. Karl Rove called Common a "thug" before using the opportunity to call Obama a flip-flopper. Sarah Palin, for her part, furthered her strange, attacks on Michelle Obama, saying, "the judgment is just so lacking of class and decency and all that’s good about America with an invite like this."

But it’s clear to me that these guys know exactly what they’re doing: trying to re-ignite the hip-hop culture wars of the ‘90s to enrage and engage their largely super-conservative base.

Common, for one, is about the least controversial rapper the First Lady could have invited to the White House. He’s considered one of hip-hop’s penultimate positive rappers. Now I'm not that familiar with Common's music (Im more of a Outkast, Drake kind of a guy), but he is seen within hip-hop as a largely gentle rapper.

Lok, let's be honest here: This wasn't about CommonThis is about Fox News preying on conservative fears of the scary black thug trope, trying to paint anyone and everyone of color as racist against whites. By attempting to associate the Obamas with people they deem "contrary to American values," they can reaffirm their own prejudices.

Then there's the whole Jill Scott saga. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Drudge had found acolumn Scott wrote for Essence in 2010. In it, she wrote, "When my friend told me his wife was indeed Caucasian, I felt my spirit...wince," which Drudge then Tweeted.

This quote was supposed to be an example of Scott's racism toward whites, but even out of context, you could guess what she meant––the saddening idea that a black man might buy into an historically ingrained racist perception in America that white women are more attractive and more desirable than black women. And, reading the article in context, that is precisely what she meant. This is what she said:


We reflect on this awful past and recall that if a black man even looked at a white woman, he would have been lynched, beaten, jailed or shot to death. In the midst of this, black women and black men struggled together, mourned together, starved together, braved the hoses and vicious police dogs and died untimely deaths on southern back roads together. These harsh truths lead to what we really feel when we see a seemingly together brother with a Caucasian woman and their children. That feeling is betrayed. While we exert efforts to raise our sons and daughters to appreciate themselves and respect others, most of us end up doing this important work alone, with no fathers or like representatives, limited financial support (often court-enforced) and, on top of everything else, an empty bed. It's frustrating and it hurts! Our minds do understand that people of all races find genuine love in many places. We dig that the world is full of amazing options. But underneath, there is a bite, no matter the ointment, that has yet to stop burning. Some may find these thoughts to be hurtful. That is not my intent. I'm just sayin'.

Again, this is not about Jill Scott – it’s about Fox trying to scare its audience into believing that President Obama is racist against whites. But just to clear her name: Jill Scott is one of the most respected and talented R&B artists working right now. She writes songs about self-esteem and love and empowering yourself, and she’s never once exploited her sexuality for gain.

Hannity and Rove and Palin and Drudge were tearing a script from that playbook, sticking it to Common and Scott, and hoping it would rub off on Obama, even though all of their assertions about the White House poetry invitees were mostly fantasy.

Closing: Like I said, I watch Fox News & will continue to do so, but its things like this that just cause me to shake my head, playing off the fears & prejudice of others just to make a point.

2 comments:

Slyram said...

Keith, you brought that hot fire with this one...mess with Jill and you mess with me. Let's see, the Obamas, Bishop, Common and Jill are some of the sweetest Black folks one can ever met yet under attack. Cool,then deal with the other part of my community....the real hard folks.

I keep telling my friends on the Right to stick to fiscal matters and secure a sizeable part of the center...but no, they seem to want civil war.

Keith MacCants said...

Ted,

This attack on Jill Scott & Commom is one of the ridiculous things I've ever seen. Conservative republicans seem to want to always start some kind of culture war that split folks into different sides of the political spectrum.

I know why Fox & other conservative outlets chose to run with this non-story: & that is to rils the emotions of the rabid part of their republican base & to tar the Obamas as socializing with folks who want talk about killing cops, or those who are racist towards whites.

Its sad, but for those on the right, it works in helping get their core supporters out in support.

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