Fox News Fatigue, Firsthand
I say this to the world: Dave Neiwert is my hero. Anyone who can seriously monitor the Fox News grind day after day deserves a medal of honor. I have spent a week watching, and come away with the understanding that a steady diet of what they serve over there will leave you sick, angry, and spelling-challenged.
I knew something was wrong yesterday when I had to stop and think about how to spell a word I've known how to spell forever. It was something simple, like "labelled." But I had to think about it for more than a few seconds. This is not like me. I am anal about spelling and rarely make a mistake. Using a spell-checker is a matter of pride with me. I could, but I won't. What evil influence could possibly be corrupting my spelling abilities? I found myself not even caring if I could spell it right just as long as I could be done with what I was doing.
And then it hit me. I realized yesterday marked a full week of watching Fox. I knew it had to be the culprit. As one who has banned Fox News from my house for years, it is never, ever on. But with Dave gone, I volunteered to monitor it for a week in his absence. I did learn a few things, about myself and about their techniques.
I learned there is a "theme of the day", set at 3AM California time when Fox and Friends comes on with their faux friendly little coffee klatch. Yesterday's theme was "Liberals are less civil than Tea Partiers." It began last night with Bill O'Reilly's ongoing claim that he's unfairly accused of being unfair. But today, it was the overriding, dominant theme.
Every show serves their own flavor of the theme inside the context of the main story, which happened to be the Wisconsin showdown with Governor Walker. Whether they were talking about the reporter punking the governor, or protests in solidarity with Wisconsinites, it is hammered home over and over and over and over again. No one is exempt or escapes The Theme, not even Glenn Beck. Watch here, as he takes a break from his incoherent ranting about President Obama making a statement about Libya while they were sleeping, and how that must have been because he had to coach his daughters or something. I'm convinced he was just pissed that his show was interrupted for it. Here's the clip:
For Beck, it's all about the SEIU, and how horrible it would have been if Tea Partiers sang their new "fight song". There's The Theme: Liberals are evil, tea partiers were unfairly maligned.
Moving on to Hannity, here's the opening screen:
This, from the guy who refers to the President as "the anointed one". And later in the show, he had this horrible awful video supplied to him by FreedomWorks showing awful, awful mean liberal racists being mean and racist to a black guy holding a Gadsden flag. Here you go. One interesting thing is how they interpreted the shouts to "go back to your own side." I watched it twice, and it appeared to me that protesters were separated by ropes, and he had wandered over to the side where the union protesters were.
There was one clearly racist question tossed at him by the older woman who wanted to know if he had any children -- that he admitted to. That was uncalled for and was definitely rude. But it doesn't rise to the level of punching someone out, or any of the effigy-burnings and related symbolic violence we saw with the tea partiers. And of course, Monica Crowley calling Obama "Obama Mubarak" over the DOMA decision was certainly civil, don't you think?
Next, we move into the O'Reilly hour where he does his very best to be "fair" while gabbling on with the Fox and Friends crew about the President's "defiance" with regard to DOMA. No mention of mean liberals (remember, he started that on Wednesday), but I do note that his word of the day is "meretricious".
This is what it's like every single day. I started out sort of understanding what Glenn Beck was saying in the beginning of the week, but by the end of the week not only did I not understand him, the sound of his voice gave me a migraine. Someone said he speaks in tongues. Yes, he probably does but the spiritual language he speak is the language of liars and fools. Even conservatives wonder about him, but even with all of that, he still has one helluva dog whistle and he uses it...liberally.
They take the theme and flog it mercilessly for that day, then let up as the next theme emerges. It's a symphony of sorts -- a symphony with lots of percussion, dissonance, and out of tune clanging cymbals with a shrill, high-pitched, irritating whistle barely audible at all times.
It does something to viewers, even viewers who are discerning or fair in how they view the world, issues and the political landscape.
It keeps them angry all the time. Outraged. Either they share the outrage and anger of their TV hosts, or they're outraged and angry at the BS being shoved in their face. It's as much a brainwashing technique as strapping someone in a chair and forcing them to watch the same themes over and over and over again.
There are code words. Lots and lots of code words. And of course, the classic slams wrapped in a question. O'Reilly earlier: "Is Barack Obama an effective leader?" Repeating the same graphic over and over of the "fleebaggers" -- the 14 Democrats who left the state as the only effective method of filibuster.
All of this leads to fatigue; fatigue turns to irritation; irritation turns to apathy. I would shrug at comments that would have gotten a rise out of me earlier in the week. They count on that. For people like me that constant cymbal clang becomes overwhelming and I just shut down, sick of the whole thing.
This is how they win. They wear you down over time with fear, anger, and apathy unless you're strong enough to resist. It's why John and David wrote Over the Cliff, and why we here at Crooks and Liars come back every day and debunk their lies in small, bite-sized chunks that can be barely tolerated but still digested.
I wonder how long detox will take?
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