A couple of times a day something about a Fox “News” report comes through my Facebook or Twitter feed that looks interesting (i.e., horrific) enough to watch for three minutes or so. What I find are not just opinions I disagree with, I find the most mean-spirited people I have seen anywhere. Seriously. Anywhere on the planet.
I used to think Bill O’Reilly with his hollering and condescension and insensitivity was unusually bad, but he’s not. While the different personalities may have different styles, their message is always the same: degrade the enemy at all costs. It’s really very Orwellian.
Take “The Five,” one of their “discussion” shows. Every time I watch a clip it’s like listening to the snotty rich kids in the high school cafeteria. Not only is everyone but them wrong, they’re bad and fat or ugly or old – all of which count against their political and social stances in the eyes of the five. Remember this is the show on which Eric Bolling called female fighter pilots “boobs on the ground.” It was also where one of the panel jeered at President Obama’s mother saying, “Who names their daughter Stanley, anyway?” (Ooh! Burn!)
Or how about Fox and Friends? This is supposed to be light fare, which it is. Like the time Stanford Grad (no kidding!) Gretchen Carlson said she’d looked “Czar” up in the dictionary and “found out that it meant “king.” Now I’m reasonably sure that someone who graduated from one of the top schools in the country didn’t have to look “Czar” up. Way to cater to the unread masses in the audience. Gretchen is also the one who worried that the riots over Eric Garner’s death would interrupt the tree-lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center. Way to be a human being.
And then there’s frat boy and O’Reilly protegé, Jesse Watters. He’s that kid who used to sit in the back of the classroom, make rude comments and whine “What?” when he was called on it. He’s got no regard for anyone and shows it every time he goes out to do “man on the street” interviews. His lowest point has to have been when he went to Grand Central Station to talk to the travelers who pass through and the homeless who camp there. He wouldn’t even bother looking at the poor people he “spoke to.” On the tape he’s staring in another direction, probably looking for some hot chick to hit on. I’m sure he had no idea what any of those people said until he got back to the studio and watched the footage. He does not care.
There are lots more examples. Sean Hannity, the bully who I’ve actually heard tell a guest he was cutting him off because he wasn’t giving the answer Sean wanted There’s the immediate support they all give to open-carry for whites and the lawlessness of Cliven Bundy. There’s Ann Coulter, who plays crazy better than anyone and always looks like she didn’t go home after last night’s cocktail party. (See what I did there? Her looks don’t have anything to do with the nuttiness of what she says. That’s a Fox tactic. I thought I’d throw one in for contrast.)
If there was some substance to Fox arguments – or if they even made arguments – it would be one thing. They don’t. It’s all about how terrible “those people” are. I’m watching people in their 20s to 50s and they all sound like cranky 80-year-olds who don’t know why we let the Japs out of the internment camps.
Of course it’s not only Fox. Listen to any right-wing radio show and you’ll hear them plotting to enslave immigrants, kill gays and save ‘Murica from the people who don’t belong – even if they were born here. “Christianity is reality,” I heard one yahoo say on C-SPAN, of all places. No. No it’s not. It may be that guy’s reality, but it’s not everyone’s reality, so it can’t be the basis for any argument.
It makes me sad for America that these people can spew this crap 24 hours a day. It makes me sad that huge numbers of people listen to them. It’s like their fearful and disdainful of everything. And it makes me think of that great speech Michael Douglas gives at the end of The American President. It’s still one of the most flawless, insightful comments on what we should aspire to be and how far down Fox and Ted Cruz and Donald Trump and the rest of the Republicans are ready to drag us for their own ends.
It’s worth watching again. This is beautiful.