Chilling Confirmation

It sometimes seems redundant to pick on Fox News. Its function as a propaganda arm of the GOP–as the Tass of the Trump Administration–is widely recognized among Americans who aren’t part of its brainwashed audience.

The problem is, Fox is more than “merely” a partisan propaganda site. Shrugging off its bias as comparable to the liberal perspective of, say, MSNBC ignores its role in normalizing bigotry and white nationalism,  a role that makes it a far more serious and dangerous influence on American life and values than other partisan media.

A recent report in the Guardian highlighted that under-appreciated aspect of the harm done by the network. 

Eboni Williams, who co-hosted the show Fox News Specialists, says Roger Ailes founded network on fear of ‘devaluation of whiteness’

A former Fox Newshost said the network was founded for the sole purpose of “demonizing ‘the other’”.

Eboni Williams tore into her former network in an appearance on Thursday on The Breakfast Club, a nationally syndicated radio show out of New York.

“Fox has a reputation for being bigoted and racist – all for a very good reason,” she said.

Williams said the key to understanding Fox’s approach was to understand its founder, Roger Ailes, who laid out his strategy clearly in his book.

“This man very plainly, in plain sight, says that he is forming a network to speak to one thing and one thing only: the demonizing of the other,” Williams said.

Eboni is an attorney-turned-commenter who is quoted in the article as saying she had taken the job at Fox despite strong disagreement with what she saw as its conservative political agenda, because she believed she would be able to offer the network’s viewers a different perspective.

“I went there because I felt I was going to be a savior of sorts and talk to the people in the middle that still watch that network, because whether we like it or not, Fox is number one for a reason,” she said.

When she criticized Trump’s response to the Neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, however, she got death threats. Clearly, she wasn’t getting through to the network’s audience.

” When I said it plain like I said it on that docket that day about Trump, the audience could no longer hear me. Thus I’m no longer being able to be any kind of effective. Thus it’s time for me to move on.”

Lest we attribute Williams’ reaction to the fact that she is black–someone who might be more “sensitive” to racial attitudes– an even more recent story, this time from the Daily Beast, should disabuse us of that excuse.

A Fox News reporter on Thursday called out two of his colleagues for sounding “like a White Supremacist chat room” when they attempted to defend President Trump’s infamous “both sides” comment about white supremacists in Charlottesville, according to internal emails reviewed by The Daily Beast.

The email discussion was triggered by Joe Biden’s announcement that he was entering the Presidential race; in that announcement, he alluded to Trump’s Charlottesville remarks. A Fox reporter named McKelway responded by sending an email to dozens of the network’s employees, saying he was “fact-checking” Biden, and  claiming that the marchers were simply protesting the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue.

It wasn’t his first attempt at disinformation.

Prior to the 2016 election, McKelway defended the alt-right on Fox News, claiming it was simply “using the same tactics that the left has used for generations now.” He further asserted that the alt-right is “much more than” an anti-Semitic, white-nationalist movement, citing Milo Yiannopoulos for his efforts in combating “the left’s obsession with… safe spaces.”

And a year before that, McKelway compared the removal of the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s statehouse to the Soviet practice of airbrushing purged dissidents out of official photographs.

I no longer wonder why certain people choose to get their “news” from Fox.

They are the network’s target audience: people who fear “devaluation of whiteness”– less politely but more accurately identified as racists.

28 thoughts on “Chilling Confirmation

  1. For all our shouting at the wind, we need to turn this voice into action. Yes we need to call out 45 for his behavior and yes we need to shout as loud as possible. We also need to find a place to be a part of that effort that supports our values and act within that arena.
    I have not yet decided where to work but it is going to be where there is the most possible effect on voters. I am from deep blue CA and the work here was done in 2018 to oust darrel issa.
    Where can I go and volunteer my time and feet and voice to places that need help? Some district in Alabama, Ohio, Wisconsin? Who would I tell I am going to volunteer?
    Sheila, can you put me up in the shed over the summer when I will be getting out the vote? 🙂
    Anyone want to join me?

  2. I don’t think anyone with a reasonable level of consciousness needs the Guardian to point out Fox’s obvious mission. They are what they appear to be. I was always amused by their “fair and balanced” approach to “reporting”.

  3. I stopped watching FOX, and accidentally began my journey from “conservatism” to rational and fact based after listening to the morning show just bashing the hell out of Obama, whom I did not care for, for something really stupid, probably his tan suit scandal. People go to FOX for the same reason they go to Rush Limbaugh, to hear the echo chamber say something they want to believe. Facts don’t matter to these folks

  4. It may be time to contact the advertisers on FOX and boycott them again – we did that during the 2016 campaign when they reported nothing but lies about Sec. Clinton. Problem is, I can watch it long enough to see who they are right now!

  5. Everyone should see Samantha Bee’s “Not the White House Correspondents Dinner” for a perspective on balance.

  6. Big Businesses and their mute libertarian lackeys in Congress (the Republican Party has vanished) are supporting Fox’s propaganda for the same reason (diverting our attention) that Trump is. Trump does a good job at diverting the issue, as in, for instance, (babies are dying in cages reports overwhelmed by I’m thinking of invading Venezuela babble), but with a different objective in mind, to wit: Wall Street contributes to the public chaos and confusion as cover for their control of our markets, their plunder of our treasury, and (thanks to Citizens United)their takeover of our electoral process (or what is left over after Putin’s cyber invasion). Trump’s monomania is two-fold: to make money and become a dictator.

    Barr’s performance yesterday in which he testified that a president could constitutionally shut down any proceedings against himself if he deemed the process unfair was rightly defined as “the road to tyranny” by Hillary Clinton. Consider that the impeachment process is a “proceeding” and one Trump would, of course, find unfair under Barr’s bizarre definition. Hillary’s observation is right to a fault – and chilling. With Big Money supplying the grease and Fox supplying the Goebbelspeak and an AG who openly advocates crowning of this real estate investor as der fuehrer, we have an existential problem, Houston.

    So what to do? Take every available means of ridding ourselves of OUR lawyer who is running interference for Trump’s dictatorial ambitions, including impeachment for perjury, while also filing articles of impeachment against der wannabe fuehrer. To the argument that we cannot do legislative business and conduct such constitutionally required remedies (if we are to save our democracy) at the same time, I note that if we play the Good Germans and allow der fuehrer to become Big Brother, there won’t be any legislative business to transact. Big Brothers don’t have legislatures or judges; all power resides in Big Brother. To the ramparts!

  7. It’s pretty easy to sift through the fog once you realize the large cable news organizations are corporate America, and are publically traded companies whose primary goal is ensure return on investment for shareholders. The primary journalistic goal of objectivity is not as important as they need to keep reinventing themselves with cable news programs that flirt with questionable content that divides rather than comes to a logical consensus. As a result the public keeps tuning in as we love a good drama, and unfortunately are none the wiser.

  8. “They are the network’s target audience: people who fear “devaluation of whiteness”– less politely but more accurately identified as racists.”

    If you don’t have anything else, “whiteness” is very alluring. Let’s don’t devalue its benefits.

  9. The only effective way at, this point in time, is to show the present and future dangers of “white supremacy” to the vast majority of whites, who support it, at least, sub-consciously.

  10. On the bright side, we finally learned the truth yesterday:

    The Russians didn’t do anything. If they did, it wasn’t very much. If it was, it doesn’t matter. It’s not illegal anyway. Anyone would work with them if they could, and that’s fine. Most importantly, Russian interference is the biggest crisis that’s Obama and Hilary’s fault and they should really be heavily investigated because the Russian thing is a crisis. For Obama. and Hilary. Trump is a handsome genius who is just the best.

    Now we know. Thanks Republicans.

  11. We are living in an historic era of political history as more than twenty candidates seek The White House from the same party including the largest field ever from women. My hope and desire is that we can more than survive the friendly fire on one another to field a united campaign to win the electoral college (folks … it will be a paper thin general election) by 2020. Fox News will survive regardless of outcome.

  12. In the very illuminating book, “The Loudest Voice in the Room”, Ailes’ other ambition was to get a Republican elected President. He eventually succeeded with George W. Bush being given the job by the conservative SCOTUS. But the train of bigotry and propaganda never stopped. With Rupert Murdoch’s money and perverted ego, Fox News was making him even MORE money and giving him even MORE power.

    I attended Ohio University from 1961 – 65. Roger Ailes was there then working at WOUB. If only I’d have known then what I know now…..

  13. Im on the working classes flack, and again at home in discussion,with like workers, im bombarded with ignorance. its a fact, headline news is all they consume,i mean,just the headline,but then they have thier app for fox,and its a roundtable of talking heads,generating flack. no reason other than thier morbid ability to single out what generations now have convinced them,we are wrong,save your guns,and guts. now, we have talk of civil unrest. seriously. if the FBI keeps a watch on political parties, they,the flackers will be covered as a group. quiet scrares me. the vietnam days of,protests were taped by informates and law enforcement, to day its drones,and apples face reconition. we have become the watched,in any party. the patriot act has allowed these fringe factions to grow,and trumps mob,has allowed them to prosper. we see discourse,and alienation. i see what we are becoming, mingling with the alt right,and asking questions. im accepted,as one,until i open my mouth,and discuss, democracy,wall street scam,and news that you dont read.little to few words are spoken,and few will argue me. our democracy rests with the many who understand how close we are to a boardroom goverment,and economic slavery. i open the eyes,and ask, if your not going to read the whole story?please dont vote.
    best wishes

  14. Back in 1960, my father was the Selection Chairman of the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville. He had been the President the year before. You didn’t have the proliferation of bowl games back then. The Rose, Sugar, Orange, and Cotten Bowls were the big four. The Gator Bowl was the “little” fifth.

    My father wanted to invite Penn State, but they had one African-American on the team, Dave Robinson. At that time, teams that had African-American players were not invited to the three major bowls in the “deep south.”

    At the time, I was on active duty as a reserve officer in the Army. My father called and asked me to come home for the weekend to help him with the Penn State problem.

    I did.

    The answer to the problem was not that difficult. I said, “Dad, just tell your buddies, that if they don’t integrate the Gator Bowl, next year Memphis will do it with the Liberty Bowl, and there won’t be a Gator Bowl. My father listened and argued my point with his “white supremacist” board and they agreed.

    Now, the Gator Bowl could compete with the “Big Four” and did so for about ten years.

    WHITE SUPREMACY can be neutralized, but, unfortunately, it NOW will take much more than TEACHING TOLERANCE.

  15. With the exception of Newsy on cable, I avoid FOX, CNN and MSDNC cable. The big three FOX, CNN and MSDNC are not in the reporting of news business, they are in the shaping of opinion or confirmation of your opinion bias business.

    As far as “chilling confirmation”, Joe Biden that so-called moderate, pragmatic, centrist, candidate is backing the administration of President Agent Orange in terms of over throwing the government of Venezuela. Biden supported Bush the Younger’s invasion of Iraq in 2002. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/05/01/biden-sides-trump-bolton-and-pompeo-backing-coup-effort-venezuela

    So OK for the last few years we have heard about Russian meddling in “OUR ELECTION”. Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and caldron bubble, with reports on Russian meddling, collusion, etc.

    Here in Venezuela, we have a clear statement by the Neo-Cons that supporting a coup is OK, as long as the USA initiates it.

  16. THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT (with Sheila’s permission)

    Stephen Bartram (and anyone else)….CommonGoodGoverning could be your place to roll up your sleeves. We are working to replace pols in the US House with “post-partisan” servant leaders. We began in 2018 by helping elect Conor Lamb (PA), Elissa Slotkin (MI), Dean Phillips (MN) and Elaine Luria (VA) – each replacing a Trump loyalist.

    Sheila can give you my email and I can send you more info.

  17. Fox News is nothing more than a more successful follow on to Rush Limbaugh and his peers and they all as a process are directly responsible for the wreck of a country that we see today. The Republicans are as much victims of it as anyone but are more willing victims because they have so far benefitted from it and in the future when they are called into accountability they will truthfully reply they were victims of democracy, they just followed their base.

    The whole sad story is motivated by making money and feeding our basest instincts just like Hollywood.

  18. I should have ended my little rant with the best description of corporations that I know:

    Make more money now regardless of the impact on all others ever.

  19. Unfortunately most Fox viewers are not looking to be “saved” from their errant ways. They are looking for affirmation and vindication for their beliefs. A lot of people don’t really want their belief system challenged, but that’s precisely what we all need to do to make sure our beliefs are grounded in truth. Politics is not a religion, although some people act as if it were. We need facts, not misplaced faith or assurances that we are right. In fact, it would be better if we just assumed that we have everything wrong and question everything. Use our intellect and reason, which most philosophers assume we have, but which appear to be in short supply in the general population. We first have to be honest with ourselves. Are we the kind of people we want to be? Or are we pretending to be those people? Those answers are not going to come from someone else. We have to answer to ourselves.

  20. Terry – struck by your comment: “Politics is not a religion, although some people act as if it were.” With the decline in religious identification and service attendance….the new reality?

  21. Everything you said was spot-on, as usual Sheila, but I want to add something else: Faux News, which is what I like to call this outlet, is the only media that constantly harps to its viewers that other media cannot be trusted. They slam the “main stream media” as biased, pro-Democrat, leftist and “unfair”. Faux News does not present honest differences of opinion. Instead, this smacks of indoctrination, not merely daily affirmation of the racist, xenophobic, islamophobic, misogynist and homophobic Trump message. Most of their female on-air personalities have bleached hair, wear extremely high heels, go sleeveless and show lots of leg and skin, also. They sit there next to fully-clothed men wearing suits. The visual message couldn’t be clearer. You could cut the misogyny with a knife, it is so thick.

    Faux also engages in labeling: anyone who opposes or criticizes Trump is a “lib”, a “dem”, or collectively, “the left”. What they don’t acknowledge to their disciples is that MOST Americans: 1. did not vote for Trump; Trump still won’t acknowledge that U.S. voters chose Hillary over him. 2. Have consistently disapproved of his job performance, 3. that the midterm elections were a referendum on Trump. This was the largest turnover of seats in the House since Watergate. The Senate would have gone Democratic, too, but for gerrymandering. House Democrats have a mandate directly from the American people; and 4. Most Americans want him gone from the White House. MOST Americans are not liberals, Democrats or even left-leaning.

    Faux News also anoints its disciples as “conservatives”, which is also a misnomer for reasons you have explained many times. Trump has set one record, however: he has had the lowest consistent approval numbers in the history of presidential polling.

  22. Thank you Sheila, as always –

    “Eboni Williams, who co-hosted the show Fox News Specialists, says Roger Ailes founded network on fear of ‘devaluation of whiteness’
    A former Fox News host said the network was founded for the sole purpose of “demonizing ‘the other’”.”
    “Fox has a reputation for being bigoted and racist – all for a very good reason,” she said.
    “This man very plainly, in plain sight, says that he is forming a network to speak to one thing and one thing only: the demonizing of the other,” Williams said.” But
    This small excerpt of the various comments did you opened your article with basically sum up Fox News perfectly.

    Roger Ailes and his aims for the network he helped Rupert Murdoch create differ significantly, obviously, from those networks, CBS, NBC and ABC, that created the concept of network news. Initially, as I remember from my childhood, network news was populated by people that had been print reporters and for the most part very great print reporters with many having won their spurs as war correspondence during the Second World War such as Walter Cronkite and Robert Trout of CBS News. They covered the news and did so, as print reporters often do, without any real trace of spin or commentary.

    The only exception to this “rule” that I remember vividly and largely due to my late mother’s consternation about it, having been a print reporter herself before I was born, was CBS’ use of Eric Severide as their commentator at the end of Uncle Walter’s nightly newscast. She would rant about it but a great deal of justification that we should be able to make up our own minds and not be told how to think. Right then and there she began to spoon feed me the concept of critical thinking and she did so all the time and encouraged it as well as my siblings and taught us to focus on making up our own minds.

    Fox News, over time, has been a total anathema of that concept and going far beyond that by having commentators, i.e., blowhards when Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and good old Judge Jeannie Pirro becoming nothing more than truth twisters and outright liars in the process. I am amazed at how Chris Wallace and Shepherd Smith continue to work there without needing daily electroshock therapy to help them contend with being surrounded by such swill. What is amazing to me is that I used to watch Fox News back when a lot of these people that seem to have lost their minds seem to be fairly balanced and credible sources for news. If we ever needed poster children to back up the expression “money talks” I can’t think of a better pile of people than them to serve in that role.

    Given the damage that this network has done to sensible and constructive political discourse in this country I think, personally, that at some point this network’s FCC license should be lifted and that Rupert Murdoch should be exiled along with the other members of his family that run this organization from this country in the category of being undesirable aliens. The fact that Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs, among others, at this network are considered to be chief advisers to Donald Trump is a very chilling and horrifying fact to contemplate along with every other aberrant fact that we, of late, have to contemplate that revolves around this current “Administration”.

    It’s one thing they have complete bozos posting all sorts of both odious and deliberately erroneous information on social media, which is a topic for another discussion, but to have a major television network that has entrée into virtually every home in this country and spreads the total cynicism of Roger Ailes’ manipulative view of our country and its system of governance is simply too much and has to be checked. This is not to say in any way that any portion of the First Amendment to the Constitution needs to be checked but rather acknowledging that a news organization that apparently sees as its daily mission to be that of essentially yelling “fire” as in a crowded theater should be seen for what it is-dangerous to the public good!

  23. I am always taken aback when people label Fox news chill as in any way more partisan than MSNBC, which is on continuously in our home. Poor balance, between the two polar opposites, I watch some Fox news, selectively. Shep Smith Chris Wallace and Brett Baier not regularly but from time to time. So we have dueling propaganda mills grinding out there biased and one-sided opinions. To me, the one key difference is that on Fox you know who the opinion people are, and who the news people are. I’m still looking for a news reporter on MSNBC who is not obsessed with the only game they see in town, which is Trump.

  24. Jack Smith, thanks for hanging in there, and continuing to speak up to your co-workers and friends. We know that people pay more attention to folks they know personally, so your efforts are critical.

  25. Tom Lund, appreciate the sense of your comments, but wish to point out one thing: Fox is not subject to the FCC because it’s cable. The FCC regulates use of the airwaves, only. Since the antitrust division of the Justice Department appears to have been dismantled, there appears to be no one who has the power to make Fox straighten up and fly right. Except putting pressure on advertisers, which was in fact effective, at least in the short term. And, since November 2020 is practically around the corner, we need to resurrect that, ASAP.

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