Just finished reading the excellent article on Roger Ailes in Rolling Stone – How Roger Ailes Built the Fox News Fear Factory. There were no big surprises in that most individuals of sound mind are acutely aware of Fox’s role as the propaganda wing of the Republican Party. What was fascinating was reading up on exactly how Ailes created his Goebbels-like factory of disinformation – one which has become a major player in American politics.
As Princeton historian Sean Wilentz tells it:
“Fox News is totalized: It’s an entire network, devoted 24 hours a day to an entire politics, and it’s broadcast as ‘the news.’ That’s why Ailes is a genius. He’s combined opinion and journalism in a wholly new way – one that blurs the distinction between the two.”
The Giant Soundstage:
Ailes has used Fox News to pioneer a new form of political campaign – one that enables the GOP to bypass skeptical reporters and wage an around-the-clock, partisan assault on public opinion. The network, at its core, is a giant soundstage created to mimic the look and feel of a news operation, cleverly camouflaging political propaganda as independent journalism.
Ailes knows exactly who is watching Fox News each day, and he is adept at playing to their darkest fears in the age of Obama. The network’s viewers are old, with a median age of 65: Ads cater to the immobile, the infirm and the incontinent, with appeals to join class action hip-replacement lawsuits, spots for products like Colon Flow and testimonials for the services of Liberator Medical (“Liberator gave me back the freedom I haven’t had since I started using catheters”). The audience is also almost exclusively white – only 1.38 percent of viewers are African-American. “Roger understands audiences,” says Rollins, the former Reagan consultant. “He knew how to target, which is what Fox News is all about.” [...]
“He’s got a niche audience and he’s programmed to it beautifully,” says a former News Corp. colleague. “He feeds them exactly what they want to hear.”
I imagine we all know people who fit the above description. I certainly do. One in particular is a bigoted, homophobic, hate-filled individual who spends his entire days with Fox News blaring in the background. It has warped his mind beyond any trace of reason. To hear him speak is to hear the parroting of every conservative talking point and lie ever heard on Fox. He, similar to many conservatives who rely on Fox as their single source for information, has become part of Roger Aile’s army of zombies…and so thorough is the manipulation, they’re not even aware of the full frontal lobotomy Fox has performed on them.
The result of this concerted campaign of disinformation is a viewership that knows almost nothing about what’s going on in the world. According to recent polls, Fox News viewers are the most misinformed of all news consumers. They are 12 percentage points more likely to believe the stimulus package caused job losses, 17 points more likely to believe Muslims want to establish Shariah law in America, 30 points more likely to say that scientists dispute global warming, and 31 points more likely to doubt President Obama’s citizenship. In fact, a study by the University of Maryland reveals, ignorance of Fox viewers actually increases the longer they watch the network. That’s because Ailes isn’t interested in providing people with information, or even a balanced range of perspectives. Like his political mentor, Richard Nixon, Ailes traffics in the emotions of victimization.
Great article; give it a read if you’re interested in furthering your understanding of what makes your Fox-loving neighbor tick.