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5/23/2015 1:27 pm  #1

The Fox Effect

Completely my own writing.

The Fox Effect

I was in Washington for a few days last week for my daughter's graduation. My Father in law was with us. He is an elderly man who watches Fox continuously. I noted that it was nearly impossible to discuss anything, the Smithsonian, the commencement address, etc without it becoming political. For instance, the mere mention of the White House provoked a rant about President Obama. Mind you I'm not referring to the white house as a synonym for "the Administration". No, I'm talking about the White House, as in the building, the tourist attraction, the historic site.
And he's angry. Often. Like a lot of people on the internet. And, he’s often misinformed on the facts.

It got me thinking, how does Fox shape the minds of their viewers?

David Brock coined the term "The Fox Effect",  in a book he authored. I would like to borrow the term and take it in a new direction.

To be brief, I would define the Fox Effect  as follows.
 The Fox Effect is,  a phenomenon in which viewers of the network become more partisan, and less informed on the issues of our time.

What does Fox do that shapes the minds of viewers?

Fox sells a binary worldview. Every person is either entirely liberal or entirely conservative. It’s either a one or a zero. And it’s all defining. It is a world without nuance. Everything must exist as a polar opposite of something else. If you are concerned about Freddie Gray’s treatment in custody, then you hate police. If you support background checks, it means you want gun ownership outlawed.

Fox politicizes everything and weaves it into American partisan politics. Thus oil spills, what Osama Bin laden reads, and even what scientists study, are all part of the liberal v conservative struggle. Your position on a scientific issue becomes the team’s position. And because the Fox viewer becomes completely politicized, he assumes that everyone else is completely politicized as well. If you post that you think Fox does a poor job, someone will point out to you that Fox has higher ratings than MSNBC. The assumption being  that, if you don’t like Fox, then you must love MSNBC. Total politicization, binary world view.

Fox tells conservatives that they own “Americanism”. The priorities that conservatives have, be they lower taxes, smaller government, bans on gay marriage, union busting, etc are described as “traditional values”. Or “The American dream”. Progressivism, labor unions etc. are something other than “American”. Conservatives are assured that they own patriotism and valor as well. Of course Fox didn’t invent this. Conservatives have held this conceit for a long time. When I was small, George McGovern was held up as the embodiment of weak, flower children, not so patriotic lefties. No one mentioned that George flew 35 combat missions in a B-24 in the second world war. 
Anyway, Fox continues that odious tradition

Fox deals in meaningless clichés. “Smaller government” is somehow compatible with a larger military, or government control of women’s reproductive rights.

Fox sells a narrative of siege. Viewers are continuously warned that everything they hold deal is in mortal danger. Fox regularly tells the viewer that “the media” is biased towards the left, all the while ignoring the fact that Fox itself is a media giant.

Fox uses current events to reinforce the worldview of their viewers, even when it means distorting the news. Coverage of an oil spill, for instance, dwells not on how much was spilled, how much the cleanup will cost, the suffering of citizens, etc. Rather, the coverage takes an angle “oil spill is an excuse for environmentalists to push more regulation’ (AKA, “big government).

Fox's business model relies more on reinforcing their viewers’ worldview than in informing them. Numerous studies have pointed to a rather appalling record on accuracy at the network.

Fox blurs the line between its opinion/entertainment content and hard news
Viewers are often subjected to seamless transitions back and forth until it is difficult to tell the difference.

We live in a time in which decent and otherwise sensible people are surrendering too easily to the hectoring of morons or extremists. 

5/23/2015 1:51 pm  #2

Re: The Fox Effect

If one researches history, you will find that these are the same tactics utilized by despots, radical groups, and cults to attract, seize, and maintain power through propagandizing their message.

Those who wholly believe the message are extolled and celebrated as being right, loyal, and truthful.

Those who disagree are ignorant, not to be trusted, and disposable.


5/23/2015 5:36 pm  #3

Re: The Fox Effect

Right on target posts by Goose and rongone.  I used to wonder how nations of intelligent people could fall for these kind of tactics.  I'm watching it unfold right in front of me in 2015.


5/24/2015 9:57 am  #4

Re: The Fox Effect

It's a sad thing to see, Fred.

We live in a time in which decent and otherwise sensible people are surrendering too easily to the hectoring of morons or extremists. 
     Thread Starter

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