by B Kean
Can you guess what happened to their political views?
It could be called magic. I prefer to compare it to a rescue mission. Paid to stop watching Fox News for one month, the diehard and the Foxified after only one week could feel their brains defrosting thanks to CNN.
Real information was entering and as if a sump pump had kicked on automatically thanks to the detection of increasing pressure, the rancid swamp of Fox-News propaganda and lies was slowly being removed. What the test’s organizers say was only in three days, the stunted brains of the Republican viewers were being unrestricted, freed even, and views were changing.
The treatment group, returned to the fold of the sane, was being repatriated.
The Fox viewers were nearly all very conservative and strong Republicans, the study explained. “Of 763 qualifying participants, we then randomized 40 percent to treatment group. To change the slant of their media diet, we offered treatment group participants $15 per hour to watch 7 hours of CNN per week, during Sept. 2020, prioritizing the hours at which participants indicated they typically watched Fox News (CNN for 30 Days).”
WHAT? Let’s read that last paragraph again……
I have long been aware of the evil of Fox. Having resided in Russia for the past two and half decades, the unmistakable power of incessant media lying was something I had to deal with on a daily basis.
Arguments with smart friends, colleagues, girlfriends, wives, taxi drivers and so many more Russians filled much of my first fifteen years or so. The fights were not really differences of opinion as they were the Russians regurgitating propaganda when I was relying on a commonly-held set of facts.
I stopped arguing, and in many ways caring, at around my sixteenth year of life in Russia. I realized that they were so far collectively gone that there was nothing I could say, show, share, or do that would ever sway them — the state propaganda was their psychological crack and no one was in need of my intervention.
I recently wrote about how so many intellectuals throughout the world are mourning the loss of a free press in Russia since the outset of the war. There really never was a free press in Russia. There was never really a great need for it. Even many who left recently (estimated to be around 200,000) to protest Putin have very skewed versions of world history and Russia’s role in it. The thing that separates them from those who remain is just the degree of the craziness of their chosen conspiracy theory.
Just a few years after Fox News was launched as an alternative news source that would strive to be the middle of the road to CNN’s “leftist leanings,” a tragic, but magical event for Roger Ailes, transpired: 9/11. The rawness of that day blinded many of us in the U.S. to reason and we willfully let emotions replace facts.
I returned home for Christmas 2001 and I was shocked at how the news was being reported. It was like people tore the rearview mirrors out of their cars and with eyes staring straight floored it backward convinced they were moving forward. We were collectively returning to the simplest common denominator: all Muslims are evil and must be punished. Any voice that offered any opinion more nuanced was a traitor. Americans were behaving themselves exactly like Russians.
Eventually, the dust would settle and the likes of The New York Times would apologize for their flawed reporting on, most infamously, the “yellowcake and nuclear rods.” This investigative piece by Judith Miller was cited by many as the moment when they believed it was okay to pre-emptively invade Iraq.
Eventually, CNN and other news organizations would stop the propaganda and return to reporting — this never took place on the right.
Fox hides bad news
NO, IS THIS TRUE?
The treatment group of the study in question, otherwise called “switchers,” revealed some very interesting insights after just a week or so:
Switchers were five percentage points more likely to believe that people suffer from long Covid, for example, and six points more likely to believe that many foreign countries did a better job than the U.S. of controlling the virus. They were seven points more likely to support voting by mail. And they were 10 points less likely to believe that supporters of then-candidate Joe Biden were happy when police officers get shot, 11 points less likely to say it’s more important for the president to focus on containing violent protesters than on the coronavirus, and 13 points less likely to agree that if Biden were elected, “we’ll see many more police get shot by Black Lives Matter activists (Watched CNN Instead).”
As the authors of the report point out, boycotting right-wing media by members of the Left is not a wise decision. Some Foxified conservatives can be reached and the spell cast by the lies of Fox News broken.
One clear takeaway by the treatment group was that if a story showed Trump in a negative light, then Fox would just ignore it.
This mode of political influence, where partisan media can simply ignore stories that are inconvenient, is a potentially powerful challenge to democratic accountability. It’s also probably not symmetrical. Even media outlets that skew liberal in their coverage generally don’t shy away from covering the Covid death toll or the rise in inflation (Watched CNN Instead).
This voluntary choice to avoid anything that could be perceived as negative for the political figure of choice is 100% propaganda. This is exactly what Russia does unapologetically with Putin. Such so-called reporting, which is more like proselytizing, paves the way for the irrationality of personality cults.
Putin is god-like in many homes in Russia and the more outlandish the lie, the more it will be believed. The more atrocious the truth, the less likely the followers will ever believe it. The crazier the shit that Trump put out, the more the Foxified were going to believe it.
The establishment of Fox News in the late 1990s forever changed both media and politics in America, transforming the formerly staid world of television news into the series of political shout fests we know and love-hate today. More than a quarter-century after its founding, however, the question persists: Does watching Fox News actually change voters’ minds (Watched CNN Instead)?
So many of us are shocked by what has happened in Russia. While Republicans refuse the rally around the flag moment despite the unparalleled leadership that Biden demonstrates in his response to Putin’s murderous campaign, Fox News, and especially Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, continue to put out bald-faced lies about President Biden. Carlson regularly offers open and veiled praise for Putin.
We are moving ever closer to the end of our democracy and along with it, there is a good chance we will lose our freedom of expression, too. Russia is an example of what happens when stupid defeats smart. Fox News needs to be brought to the task. It’s ruining our nation and taking with it the free world; it’s empowering the Putins.
This study proves once and for all that Fox is a terrorist organization hell-bent on ending our democracy. Will anyone be shocked when we lose our press freedoms?
Sadly, I don’t know anymore.