Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Is FoxNews a News Organization or a Terrorist Organization?

How many hours a day is there a Special Alert graphic flashing Warning!!! in the corner of the FoxNews screen?

Multiplied by 12 months a year. For how many years now?

Times how many millions of viewers?

For what purpose is this constant High Alert status maintained?

…other than to agitate and unsettle and create fear in viewers of FoxNews?

David Weigel at Slate wrote a piece about this in 2012.

The perpetual high alert status of FoxNews is itself a kind of terrorism.

It is a constant, urgent, near-hysterical threat warning being pushed at millions watching on TV.

What is the purpose? Is there a need as urgent as the urgency of the flashing words? What does it do to people to feel compelled to be constantly alert to imminent danger? And danger of what?

Is it vital to keep the people in Portland, Oregon in an alarmed state of vigilance because of a violent act in Chattanooga?

The alarm is more to the purpose than the information, which is not delivered in a responsible fashion but in a fashion designed to elevate the audience’s worst fears, its most irrational hatreds, its most violent instincts. It is a social medium for the antisocial monster inside all of us.

There isn’t any official public safety purpose for the constant alert status flashing on FoxNews. We know this because FoxNews also promotes a constant drumbeat of condemnation for anything from our government or its officials…unless they are Republican officials.

The FoxNews constant WARNING! beacon flashes day and night for the sole purpose of creating feelings of vulnerability and unease and alarm and mutual suspicion and hate among as many people as possible. Because they are the most watched network on broadcast cable they have millions of threat-addicted viewers.

And that unease/alarm/suspicion/hate is put to a very specific and clear purpose: to make people susceptible and receptive to the messages that follow or accompany the constant alert. Namely the hard right agenda of FoxNews and Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch. (Ailes originally conceived of FoxNews while working in the Nixon White House. His concept was to be called GOPTV.)

The stern, know-all visages of the FoxNews anchors play a role very similar to the hectoring face of Big Brother in Orwell’s 1984. “Stay tuned here and you will be safe. Stay tuned and do what we tell you to do and you will be safe.”

Granted, CNN has its own case of Breaking News Syndrome, but the agenda is less direct and coherent and one-sided. There’s less browbeating at CNN. The brow furrowing of the CNN anchors is more fake concern than stern condemnation and alarm, which is how I’d describe the brow furrowing and Obama-mocking that Fox engages in.

AdWeek's TV news column addressed this alert-pandering of CNN a few years ago. But the motivation is audience goosing and profit boosting, not political.

FoxNews has used the electric jolt of the alert beacon to kick people into line on a variety of issues. Most of them unrelated to the particular, often small and isolated, events being pushed by the flashing warning.

Fox has used shootings to drive the NRA agenda. They’ve also used the "fear candy" of isolated shooting incidents to drive the agenda of ExxonMobil and Koch International.

“Come to be entertained by the gun violence. Stay to be forcibly persuaded that 99% of the climate scientists are engaged in a massive climate change hoax.”

It’s like the old National Lampoon cover: “Buy this magazine or we’ll shoot this dog.”

Only FoxNews is saying it this way: “Buy this irrational mistrust of the government and scientists and experts and public education and liberals and people of color and Muslims and people you don’t know who happen to be walking past on the sidewalk in front of your home. If you don't someone will invade your home and murder your family.”

"Be Vigilant” Fox is saying “And Do As We Tell You.”

The constant alert has been a very effective way to kick people into line on a narrow set of ideas and orthodoxies. It’s also helped enlist viewers to kick their elected officials (of both parties) into line with these orthodoxies: pro fossil fuel, anti science, pro guns, anti immigrants, pro Republican, anti Democratic, pro military spending (except when it requires more tax dollars to care for veterans), anti diplomacy (even when it means cutting spending for embassy security in dangerous parts of the world), etc. It’s pro America and anti everybody else (especially our allies) but it’s mostly pro American business. (And it’s less pro American business than it is pro American business CEOs and pro CEO pay and anti taxes on CEOs.)

I think it’s time to exclude FoxNews from the honorable category of Journalism and sort them into their proper category of propaganda. But they are engaging in more than propaganda. What they are using to sell their propaganda is the non-stop terroristic threat they flash in the corner of their screen for many hours of every week.

We need to admit it. FoxNews is a terror organization. And it is larger and more influential and has a larger devoted following than ISIS or al Qaeda.

Earlier this year Forbes posted this excellent review of a film about how Fox brainwashes its viewers.

And the Daily Beast posted this story written by the filmmaker and the father she said had been deranged by FoxNews.

This article in the New Republic calls it Angry Fox Geezer Syndrome.

This article in the American Conservative agrees that FoxNews is in the business of agitation not information.

Fox is a propaganda network. A terror organization. It is the loud voice shouting FIRE in a crowded theatre. It is in the business of mass intimidation and retribution as surely as the information offices operated by Josef Goebbels––the original dispenser of the Big Lie.

FoxNews's purpose is to enforce obedience through fear and to incite violence and hate against those who disagree. It is the brownshirt of American media. The mob-whisperer. The presser of our most violent buttons. It is not a news organization.

Finally, the day I posted this story, Italian media was discussing a similar problem in that country. For decades their politics were poisonous, largely because of the right wing opportunist who became their president, Silvio Berlusconi. A vulgar, misogynistic, loudmouth with fascist tendencies who happened to be a media billionaire. Yesterday, Pope Francis condemned Berlusconi's style of news reporting, which is essentially character assassination by mass media. Which is very much like the FoxNews model of "some say" journalism and hyper partisanship. It poisons the public conversation. It destroys people's trust in journalism. It destroys their ability to sort truth from lies.

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