Fair and Imbalanced

From the moment Fox News was founded in 1996, its goal was to offer a partisan view of the news. Accordingly, Roger Ailes turned Fox into a propaganda machine.

Probably the single most important tool that brings polarization to the American people is Fox News, though progressive news has provided aftermarket contributions as well. Second in importance is the Republican Party. But the clout that lent support to these percussive tools of control and persuasion resides among us – though at a comfortable distance — in mansions, yachts, classy cars, and board rooms of our nation. They are the force that governs us, markets us, controls us, even pampers with a purpose.  Paid agents do their bidding – their infrastructure in government, media, and sports – culture in general.

Our US masters are among the top one-percent of our population, actually of the world’s population. Plutocrats (wealthy ruling class) of the world are pretty much united. It is now “plutocrats of the world unite” not “workers … unite.”  Contrarily, workers as a consequential entity are being erased.

Moguls have rewritten the Communist Manifesto: crossed out Communist and entered Plutocratic. Of course, the Communist Manifesto has never been a real blueprint for egalitarian rule. Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution was supposed to do that in 1917, but a dictatorship was duplicitously substituted as the representative of the peasants or proletariat.

A Plutocratic Manifesto was never written as one book but a loose compilation of plans and organizations whose ideas and scripts were seeded in places it needed to flourish: governments, board rooms, and media – even embossed in cultures of the world. The early plans were developed in conservative think tanks and precepts dispensed in our culture, in books, magazines, institutions of education, government offices, and popular media. To wit, conservatives decided that they deserve the upper hand, not progressives – the magic mantra of makers, not takers.

Most likely they did not have a precise Fox News in mind when Ronald Reagan, with the help of Democrats, rid us of the meddling FCC “Fairness Doctrine” rules for the media. Perhaps the Fox News mantra of “fair and balanced” reporting is a mocking reminder of the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine requiring holders of broadcast licenses to both present controversial issues of public importance in a manner that was honest, equitable and balanced. Like dialogue from Orwell’s 1984, which has surely come to pass, the FCC chairman, Genachowski, under an executive order by President Obama, got rid of the obsolete Fairness Doctrine regulations in 2011 as an “unnecessary distraction.” Both political parties seem to have a role, though Democrats are more the duped than the dupers.

Fox News consistently mocks the “Fairness Doctrine” day in and day out through the mouths of Fox vendors of the elite – Hannity, O’Reilly, and friends – to the ears of millions of target masses. Of course, talking points are rehearsed and practiced by elite agents, reaching across the globe at the speed of light — talk radio, GOP politicians, some conservative Democrats, the interviewed elite, conservative talking heads, and fear-monger-ers. They characterize their story-lines with “unwashed masses,” dark-skinned menaces, hustlers and pimps, even the educated elite, and all are grasping for our dollars. These fearful minions are the “other.”

Actually fair and balanced is not true for most news source. Fox News scores a truth-telling percentage of 18% compared to 60% for CNN and 31% for MSNBC. It indicates that the FCC Fairness Doctrine is not an “unnecessary distraction” any more than the Voting Rights Act. The latter, in effect, was claimed such by the John Robert’s Supreme Court. Those two classes of “distractions” kept news and voting fairly honest in both political directions, something a flourishing democratic society requires.

Fox News, however, holds a large audience of slightly above 2 million angry and angst-filled followers, though its average median age is 65-plus. Its 25-54 year-old viewers, a group ad-buyers value, are declining by some 200,000 to 370,000. Other networks fare better with younger viewers.

Whatever Fox’s long-range plan is, its propaganda techniques have long been established. A few years ago, fourteen were cited by political science professor, Dr. Cynthia Boaz. The first is one step beyond fear-mongering: panic mongering. It sets the stage for bypassing the rational brain, setting up the audience to believe anything. There is no break from fear. Your opponents are always conspiring to take you captive, so you heighten paranoia with terror: an Ebola here, an ISIS there, a gaping border here and there, minorities plotting to take your livelihood – peril is everywhere.

And, of course, character assassination kills your opponent’s character by attacking credibility, motives, intelligence, even sanity if necessary. It leaves no room for debate. It renders it unnecessary.  Thus diminish your opponent and control your own forum as Bill O’Reilly does by belittling and bullying his opponent in an interview. Coupled with that, you scapegoat Democrats, and more specifically President Obama for all ills. Especially make Obama the “other” with references to a Kenyan birthplace, not loving his country (Giuliani, most recently), or death panels in “Obamacare.”

Another propaganda technique is common with countries controlling the media like Russia and the former Soviet Union, that of rewriting history. Recently Bill O’Reilly was cited for lying about being outside the door when within, the friend of JFK’s assassin, committed suicide, and O’Reilly claiming to be in the Falkland war zone. Even yet, though disproven and repeatedly rebuked, Fox suggests WMDs were real in Iraq, or Iraq was involved in 9/11.

War is manly. There’s war and violence that is conflated as power and strength, and contrarily, peace, with weakness. Fox calls Obama weak for not wanting war in Iran. Putin is a tough guy for taking Crimea and attacking the Ukraine, while Obama is weak for only supporting sanctions against Russia.

Another tactic is Othering.  Obama is a Moslem. Fox and friends are patriots. Christians and “real Americans” are repeated with every event that can be related to the topic. Saturate your audience with propaganda. Give them no rest. Each day your attacks take a different flavor, depending on the news cycle. But you always attack your opponents, assure that your mass audience polarization will be maintained, even strengthened.

That such negatives stick forever is witnessed on many occasions when the GOP base assembles at candidate rallies. For example, President Obama is “an avowed Muslin” and not a “legal” president, in Florida in 2012, yelled some woman when Rick Santorum was campaigning for president. And at another event in 2015 with Rick Santorum in Charleston, SC, a middle-aged woman claimed Obama had a plot to nuke Charleston. All spurious claims are hatched and reinforced by a united-in-message right-wing media, usually with Fox News cited at the center because of its large and loyal audience.

Polarization shows up everywhere with fairly close elections and is manifested in many ways in an angst-driven culture. No evidence need be provided. It’s all vitriol and all panic-driven. The condition has been bred for over a generation and is consistently nurtured, leading to a volatile American culture in which you don’t discuss politics, where the conservative media pitches vitriol and angst 24/7, where open-carry guns are a defense against government takeover, where Obama plots to take away your guns, where traffic disputes become armed road-rage, and where young unarmed minority men are routinely assaulted by authorities.

All these conditions were not purposely plotted by conservative ideologues some forty year ago when they planned their comprehensive remake. But the means is secondary to the desired end. Success is almost palpable. Near completion, for example, is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, a stellar goal, negotiated in secrecy. It will help to suspend pesky national sovereign rights in favor of monolithic corporations, dumping jobs and suppressing wage gains for Americans.

Don’t worry. Fox News knows its job. It will turn our heads toward stand-ins to blame by vilifying the other:  gays, the poor, the educated elite, unions, and all progressives – the corporate state’s enemies. Corporate media can profess that TPP will bring jobs and growth opportunities.

Not said in mainstream circles is that it will actually mean lost jobs and lost American self-determination. You will hear the cry that like the Keystone pipeline, it will happen anyway, just like the  NAFTA trade agreement that Democrat, Bill Clinton, helped to pass.

James Hoover is a recently retired systems engineer. He has advanced degrees in Economics and English. Prior to his aerospace career, he taught high school, and he has also taught college courses. He recently published a science fiction novel called Extraordinary Visitors and writes political columns on several websites. Read other articles by James.