May 7, 2014

Fox News needs enemies to survive. Whether those enemies are Muslim, Obama, or the nation's young people, the idea is the same: Demonize an entire group of people in order to keep viewers engaged and hating.

The Ailes biography that came out last year describes the strategy Fox uses. The viewer is the hero of every story. Fox News' role is to aim at that viewer and give them something to be angry at so they can be the hero who rescues the country from itself, or its young people, in this case.

Amanda Marcotte:

Even so, it’s alarming to see the newest group of Americans Fox News is telling its audience is public enemy number-one: Their own children. Tuning into Fox News lately means hearing about how Americans in their teens and 20s are oversexed and out of control. Audiences are even hearing that young people are such a public menace that older people are well within their rights to murder them.

It makes sense that Fox would eventually come around to explicitly treating young people like the enemy. The median age of a Fox viewer is 68 years old, and rising. Meanwhile, young people are the most Democratic demographic in the country, with 60 percent of voters ages 18-29 voting for Obama in 2012, compared to only 44 percent of those 65 and older. Trashing young people does double duty for Fox, helping create the us vs. them mentality its ratings thrive on, and allowing viewers to tell themselves the only reason Democrats win elections is because this younger generation is broken and lost.

The main strategy for stoking hatred of young people is, unsurprisingly, rank dishonesty.Statistics tell us that the millennial generation and the high school kids coming up right behind them are harder-working, more studious, more sexually responsible and less like to screw up their lives than the generations before. Teen pregnancy and drug use have been in a rapid decline in the past 20 years. High school graduation rates are hitting record levels. Crime, which is usually a province of the young, hit its highest rates when the baby boomers were young, and has been in decline ever since. The only problem with kids nowadays is that they’re a bunch of goody-two-shoes that are making older generations look lazy and criminal.

Resentment is a key tool in the right wing's toolbox. It's the same emotion that drives the "makers and takers" argument, Mitt Romney's 47% claims, and Paul Ryan's comments about "inner city" dwellers.

Of course, it never applies to their personal situation. I recently had a discussion about Obamacare with someone whose extended family was personally benefitting from it. In that case, it was justifiable that they should get coverage for an affordable rate because they were family and not just one of the moochers on the street. When I tried to reconcile their view with the idea that others benefiting also have family members who are conservative, I couldn't get to first base. It was as if, out of the 8 million who have gotten coverage, only one "deserved" it, and the idea that repealing it for the other 7,999,999 people would mean taking it from the single "deserving" one just did not compute.

Has anyone ever studied the mind control techniques of totalitarian governments to see whether Fox just took a page out of their book? I'm betting they did.

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