Fox News Doesn’t Shape Viewers; Viewers Shape Fox News

I listen to Pod Save America on a frequent basis.  It’s a good show, and it separates itself from the average punditocracy because its participants were recently in a functional White House.  They know how things are supposed to work (as opposed to whomever CNN wants on a panel because they worked in the Clinton White House twenty years ago), and they’ve got good insights.

However, in their most recent episode, “Turd in the GOP Punchbowl”, they spend some time taking aim at Fox News, crying out that so many of our ills come from Fox News feeding a steady stream of bullshit to 40% of the populace.  If only Fox News wasn’t there, they speculate, the scales would be lifted from the eyes of Trump’s base, and they would see him for the corrupt, tinpot tyrant he truly is.

Unfortunately, the evidence doesn’t follow.

You may recall that at the first GOP debate, which was hosted on Fox News, the network came down on him in a surprisingly harsh way.  Vox reports that this was part of a concerted effort by Rupert Murdoch to get Trump out of the race because Murdoch disliked Trump’s anti-immigration policies.  However, when Fox News viewers pushed back, Murdoch and Trump made up and Fox News’ coverage of Trump has been positive ever since.

There’s this notion that Fox News viewers are victims.  They’re hapless Americans who have been brainwashed into believing a horrible agenda, and while that may be true for some, for the most part, you have to have a moral compass where Fox News already appeals to you.  It’s not brainwashing; it’s confirmation bias.  If you believe that immigrants are ruining the country, that Democrats are coming to take your guns, and that Obama and the Clintons are the devil, you have a channel that tells you “You’re right!” on a consistent basis.

And I get that.  I listen to Pod Save America because they’re in tune with my liberal viewpoints.  But, as this post shows, I don’t swallow everything they sell me.  The only time Fox News viewers pushed back is when Fox News wasn’t hateful enough.  They wanted Trump.

And that’s a tougher thing to reckon with, so I can understand why Pod Save America would rather turn the blame onto a corporate entity like Fox News rather than the American citizens who comprise Fox News’ viewership.  But if you want to be honest with your listeners, you might need to confront the fact that Fox News isn’t the root of the problem.  They’re a horrible network, bu they’re also profiting off a problem that would exist whether they were around or not.

Friday, July 14th, 2017 criticism, politics

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