The Current Mass Murder and the Fox Presence

We might ask ourselves what grotesque culture causes a young white man to figuratively wrap himself in a Confederate flag and point-blank murder nine gracious, welcoming black people. Pondering this question, I was inspired by the Jon Stewart, Daily Show, this one, last Monday, regarding the Charleston massacre of nine black church members by a white supremacist, Dylann Roof.

Since the massacre, Fox News has released a torrent of invective vilifying those who might dare to suggest a contributory culture of guns, racism, and hatred.

The sad tenor of President Obama’s statement shortly after the massacre centered on America’s uniqueness in the world regarding mass violence: “At some point we have to recognize the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries, and it is in our power to do something about it.” Meanwhile, the Tea Party presidential candidate, Ted Cruz, joked that Iowa “defines gun control the same way as Texas: hitting what you’re shooting at.” Obama’s statement actually did not speak of gun control.

Regardless of the even tenor of Obama’s words, Fox News – with its continuing acerbic saga — attacked him. Fox talking points centered around the so-called “race to politicize a tragedy,” these, the words of Sean Hannity. His “tag team” was other Fox employees, including, for example, Rudy Giuliani, Howard Kurtz, Rich Lowry, Lou Dobbs and Bill O’Reilly. The latter is not shown in the Stewart clip.

The Fox screen headlines focus on their talking points, politicizing a tragedy, but ranged from “violent crime spikes in major cities,” to “Carson calls for unity.” The message suggests Fox having a role in unity while its enemies (Obama and company) are politicizing the tragedy. Each member of the “tag team” has a role in the charade.  “The president is blaming guns,” says pink-tied Hannity. Another tag team member counters, “Haven’t even buried the dead yet.”  Or “It’s almost like a sickness, a chance to advance your own narrative.”

Rudy Giuliani charges, “The president generally deals with this whole issue politically, rather than substantively. “ Then, Rich Lowry, many times disgusting in his own right, said, “The bodies aren’t cold and you have people trying to score political points, and frankly it’s disgusting.”

It is a tag team because it reminds you of a wrestling match where each team has the solitary object of rendering “senseless” its opponents. But the Fox team has this assigned goal for its audience: that of rendering it senseless, duly suffused with propaganda following an Ailes lesson plan, each cued on screen like wrestling placards.

Each round is the current lesson in a continuing plan of educating Fox’s sectarian audience. In this, and many cases, the object is to obfuscate the Fox exploitation of the tragedy by claiming Fox opponents, the progressives (the Democrats), are politicizing the Charleston massacre by suggesting  guns, racism, and an environment of hate as causes. But these “cause demons” were mostly exorcised by Fox reporting, not by Obama.

Of course, it is irrelevant that these conditions led to the massacre. Fox is playing to an audience nightly conditioned to a radical mentality of fear and angst. Its mission is to create a giant sound stage that mimics the look and feel of a news operation, skillfully concealing political propaganda as independent journalism.

It is as false and showy as a wrestling match, done only to win and maintain audience and acclaim. Its sectarian followers track their champions, their would-be warriors. There is O’Reilly the Giant, always boisterous and arrogant, a giant in his own mind, Golden Boy Sean (though wrinkles hide the boy). There’s Little Bit of Leg Kelly, only rarely wrestling down Fox bias, Rudy the Face Like a Ferret, and there is Flowerly Lowry, mouthing disgust.

Of course, the sickness and disgust can readily be attributed to Fox News, which plays the propaganda game of transferring its ills to others and keeping its opponent off balance, and blameful. You always advance your narrative, utilizing every opportunity, even politicizing events before all facts are in.

Leading up to the end of last year with the rash of unarmed blacks being killed by the police, anyone critical of police tactics was marked by Fox for demonization and blame. There was the brutal assassination of two NYPD officers shot while sitting in their police car.  Ismaaiyl Brinsley, three hours before shooting the officers, had posted anti-police threats, referencing the recent police-involved killings of Eric Garner in NY and Michael Brown in Ferguson. It was later determined that Brinsley, who committed suicide, was mentally ill and not associated with any group demonstrating against police brutality.

Nevertheless, within minutes of the murders, Fox News’ tag team of Golden Boy Sean, Flowerly Lowry, Ferret Rudy, and Little Bit of a Leg’s cousin wrestled down the characters of Mayor Bill DeBasio, President Obama and Al Sharpton: “Mayor de Blazio, Al Sharpton and others like him actually have blood on their hands; President Obama created racial tensions, worsening the situation for law enforcement; or Put the blame on the President.”

This wasn’t enough for Flowerly Lowry, whose prose appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune as an oped, calling NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio a liar in referring to the targeting of Eric Garner as racist. Actually Mayor de Blasio only spoke of centuries of racism and referenced a “painful day” and the need for “peaceful protest” after NYPD officers were not indicted by the NY Grand Jury.

But never mind the truth. Like a wrestling match for show, Fox News will make up the narrative to suit its own agenda, maintain its polarized audience, and satisfy its doublespeak of a fair and balanced media. Fair and balanced actually passed away some thirty years ago when President Ronald Reagan dissolved the FCC rule of fair and balanced reporting. The public enabling monolithic, profit-centered news put the final nail in “the fair and balanced” coffin.

When the current toll of lives becomes a mainstream murmur, we still will be left with a gun culture coupled with primordial fears. Will Fox News still be here to fan fear and loathing, and how long will it be before the next mass killing?

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.