Below are some notes from “Can we save loved ones from Fox News: ‘I don’t know if it’s too late or not'” by Chauncey Devega (November 23, 2018 salon.com) in an interview with Jen Senko, director of “The Brainwashing of My Dad,” on surviving those Fox News-fueled holiday gatherings.” I need to further process these notes, but have run out of time this week. I think these notes can help in understanding Fox News consumers, however.
Fox News (FN) “…viewers are being fed a steady diet of lies and disinformation in the service of an alternate reality where the facts are rejected in favor of right-wing talking points.” Research shows that Fox News watchers “…actually know less correct information about current events and other important public matters than people who watch other news networks — or who do not watch cable news at all.”
“…Fox News was never about honoring the obligation of the free press to speak truth to power or help the American people make informed decisions about political and social matters. Fox was explicitly designed to parrot the style and narrative of sports talk radio where entertainment and profit-seeking are more important than the truth, and the world is divided up between right-wing conservatives ( the ‘good guys’ and ‘the home team’) and the Democrats, liberals and progressives (the ‘bad guys’ and ‘the enemy).”
Fox News has become Trump’s “…de facto state-sponsored media …where Trump’s war on democracy is cheered on, his leadership is endlessly praised, and white supremacist or eliminationist rhetoric is mainstreamed.”
Fox News watchers are taught “…that Democrats, black people, anyone who is not a white male” …or non-feminist female “…is evil.”
In addition to Fox News, many are consuming Rush Limbaugh on the radio and an avalanche of emails from right-wing websites.
Fox News is effective because it “…operates through fear” …and emotion.
The creator of Fox News, Roger Ailes knew that viewers were hooked by “…emotion, simple sentences, repetition, fear, interrupting the guests and using high-impact visuals.” It’s not a news broadcast, it’s a show.
The ticker running at the bottom of the screen presents everything as “breaking news” or some type of “alert” no matter how mundane. “This is exciting… and it can actually become addictive.” Fox News provides viewers with excitement and purpose. They “…feel part of a team. They feel special. There’s like an in-group. Fox News is also like a cult because it’s exclusive and the other side isn’t just wrong, they’re evil.”
“…Fox News makes it seem like you’re their friend and you’re special because you tuned into them. You’re now part of their club. We’re talking to you. We’re here for you. We understand you.”
“Information backfire” will also make Fox News viewers even more resistant to new information and real facts when they are confronted by them.
They are stuck in a right-wing Fox News bubble.
“For outsiders, Fox News is absurd. It is bad political theater.”
“The main thing is the fake anger. The shows revolve around anger. The themes are repeated. ‘We know something isn’t right. The system is rigged.'”
“…for people getting sucked into the Fox News cult alternate reality, the hosts and guests are giving me an explanation for why the system isn’t working. These viewers get sucked in.”
“The hosts and producers and other professionals at Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and other parts of the ring-wing media are very good at what they do. They’re very convincing. They are skilled at telling their audience that they will do the thinking for them, boil it down, make it simple.”
“If we could take away all the right-wing media there would still be differences of opinion in America. But it wouldn’t be this great divide. The country would not be filled with such a large amount of hate, suspicion and fear that is encouraged by Fox news and the right-wing media.”
“That is what motivates them in their lives. They get used to the fear and that excitement. Fox News causes a feeling of devious excitement. It is an addiction. We need to give Fox News right-wing addicts something to replace those feelings with.”