As a general rule, I exercise a healthy skepticism when it comes to news from the American media. I emphasize healthy because it’s one thing to be skeptical. It’s quite another to be so skeptical that you doubt or outright reject all news stories from the media, regardless of the topic.
That’s not skepticism.
That’s just willful ignorance, plain and simple.
But to be fair, it’s not like the American media has a spotless track record. In fact, if you were to grade the American media on the basis of accuracy, honesty, and ethics, it would probably get a C-minus at best and an F at worst. That’s not to say everyone in the media is dishonest or every media outlet is untrustworthy. There are certain some outlets that garner more credibility than others. And if you’re a responsible, well-meaning person, you should strive to get your news from a credible source.
Then, there’s Fox News.
Now, I could say a lot about Fox News. I’ve been tempted to go on plenty of angry rants about them on this site and on my YouTube channel. I usually choose not to because I know I would be inviting some pretty serious vitriol from certain people with certain political leanings. I won’t say who they are. But you follow American politics in any capacity, you know who I’m talking about.
The only reason I’m daring to talk about Fox News now is because recent revelations have cast their whole operation in a new light. The news came out last month in mid-February 2023. For the past three years, Fox News has been among the many conservative news outlets that platformed and entertained theories that the 2020 Presidential Election was undermined by major cases of voter fraud.
Now, I prefer not to get into the details of that politically charged shit storm. Many other people far more qualified and smarter than me have done extensive breakdowns on why the results of the 2020 election were legitimate. If, at this point, you still believe the election was stolen and the mainstream media refuses to report on it, then I’m sorry. I can’t convince you. I can’t help you, either. You’ve bought into a fraud and there’s no way someone like me is going to get you out of that.
But it’s this politically charged issue that finally got Fox News in trouble. For years, Fox News has been branded as the conservative counterpart to the more liberal-leaning news outlets like MSMBC and CNN. As to just how “liberal” those networks lean is up for debate. But there’s no debate that Fox leans conservative. They champions conservative talking points and figureheads, sometimes to an excessive degree.
However, their willingness to entertain this demonstrably untrue conspiracy theory about the 2020 election finally got Fox News into serious legal trouble. There’s a real possibility that Fox News and their parent company, News Corp, could be on the hook for billions of dollars in damages. That kind of lawsuit is a big deal for any major media company. And while it’s not yet clear how it’ll pan out, one important detail did emerge.
Apparently, the many TV personalities that Fox News employed during this narrative didn’t actually believe any of the crazy election conspiracies that they were entertaining on air. They’ve even gone so far as to say outright, and with verified text messages and legal affidavits, that they didn’t believe the election fraud claims for a second.
AP: Off camera, Fox hosts doubted 2020 election fraud claims
To millions of viewers, Fox News hosts gave allies of former President Donald Trump a platform to champion false claims that he lost the 2020 election because of voter fraud. To one another, they expressed doubts about the claims and mocked the people making them.
Private exchanges between Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, and other network bigwigs — including the chairman of Fox Corporation, Rupert Murdoch — show a wide chasm between what the network promoted in primetime and the doubts that its stars held behind the camera, according to new court filings in a defamation lawsuit being waged by a company whose voting systems were regularly maligned on air.
“Sidney Powell is lying” about having evidence for election fraud, Carlson said via text on Nov. 16, 2020 to a Fox News producer, referring to one of Trump’s lawyers.
Ingraham texted Carlson that Powell is “a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy,” referring to the former New York mayor and Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani.
This sort of revelation is not a trivial matter, at least with respect to the lawsuit. The fact that Fox knowingly entertained these conspiracy theories that they believed to be wrong is a big problem. It means that the talking heads you see on that network may say they believe one thing when the cameras are rolling, but they believe something completely different once they cameras and teleprompters are off.
They often make the defense that their shows aren’t “news” as much as they are opinion pieces. However, their opinions are often framed as news stories or as serious questions about established narratives. And, like it or not, these people have huge audiences. The people who watch these shows take what they say seriously. And that can have serious consequences. We saw some of those consequences play out during the January 6th riots at the Capitol.
It paints a very cynical picture. These people, who are well-paid and very powerful within conservative circles, are just telling their audience what they want to hear. They’re not giving people the news. They’re feeding them whatever political spin they think will get them riled up, impassioned, and most importantly, watching night after night.
That is an objectively dangerous practice and it will continue to have serious consequences. I will even go so far as to say that what happened at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, probably wasn’t the worst manifestation of these consequences. I’ve had to deal directly with some of these people in my private life. I’ve been threatened by them. I’ve been yelled at by them. These people claim to be patriots, but they’re nothing of the sort.
And that brings me to the harshest truth about this revelation that I think is worth highlighting. Yes, it’s important that this came out. Yes, it’s a big deal that these influential figures at Fox News flat out admitted that they didn’t believe the bullshit conspiracies they were promoting, but did so anyway because it was good for ratings and revenue.
However, in the grand scheme of things, this doesn’t matter to the average Fox News viewer in the slightest.
It doesn’t matter that official court documents prove that these people have been lying to them.
It doesn’t matter that Fox News admits outright that the 2020 election was not stolen and there’s no evidence at all to support the fraud claims.
The average Fox News, deeply conservative viewer doesn’t care what the truth is.
They only care that they’re fed a narrative that makes them feel good and vindicated.
I know this because again, I’ve dealt with these people. I’ve tried to talk to them. I’ve tried to reason with them. It doesn’t work. At best, they think I’m just shilling for the mainstream media. At worst, they think I’m they’re enemy. A few have even said that when the next American Revolution begins, they will target me. I will be on their hitlist of people they think are traitors to America who need to be eliminated.
Truth is no longer applicable in the minds of these people.
The very concept of what it means to be an American patriot doesn’t matter, either.
All that matters is that they get to be the heroes in their own fanciful narrative about America. The fact that the America they’re envisioning just happens to be a Fascist government run by Christian Nationalists isn’t beside the point. It is the point.
They may know what the truth is in their heart of hearts. They may even accept it on some levels. They just don’t care.
That is extremely dangerous. And I genuinely worry that the danger is going to get much worse before it gets better.