Frightening Facts About the 'Foxification' of American Politics
This post first appeared on Hullabaloo.NY magazine is featuring an unusually insightful article about the Foxification of our politics and makes a number of observations that add up to something quite frightening. Here's just one piece of it:
The game may be destroying American politics—but it’s the only game in town, and CNN, thus far, is out of it. “Being a passionate centrist is always a bit harder than a raving lunatic on each side,” Eliot Spitzer told me. “They do not recognize a reality that Fox and MSNBC recognize,” says a former senior CNN staffer. “You have to be real showmen and hook into America, which is blue collar and angry. The CNN culture is still very strange. You walk into that building, you think you’re the Jesuits and you’re protecting a certain legacy. They still look at Fox as a carnival—not Fox as a brilliant marketing entity. It’s weird. They’re decades into it, and they’ll protect it to the end.”
Stop and think about that for a moment. They are saying that America is and angry blue collar country which Fox has brilliantly market to with a collection of right wing demagogues feeding their anger. Is that true?
I know it's true of a certain group of Americans. But "America"? Well, it wouldn't be the first time a journalist characterized "America" that way:
Most of us in what is called the communications field are not rooted in the great mass of ordinary Americans--in Middle America. And the results show up not merely in occasional episodes ... but more importantly in the systematic bias toward young people, minority groups, and the of presidential candidates who appeal to them.
"To get a feel of this bias it is first necessary to understand the antagonism that divides the middle class of this country. On the one hand there are highly educated upper-income whites sure of and brimming with ideas for doing things differently. On the other hand, there is Middle America, the large majority of low-income whites, traditional in their values and on the defensive against innovation.
"The most important organs of and television are, beyond much doubt, dominated by the outlook of the upper-income whites.
"In these circumstances, it seems to me that those of us in the media need to make a special effort to understand Middle America. Equally it seems wise to exercise a certain caution, a prudent restraint, in pressing a claim for a plenary indulgence to be in all places at all times the agent of the sovereign public."
That was written in 1968. Plus ca change and all that rot.
It is the essence of the Village, which has since shifted its perspective to incorporate the view that yes, America is composed of angry blue collar white people but the people who run the news businesses share the same worldview naturally and thus perfectly represent the masses.
So you end up with a parade of millionaires from the late Tim Russert to Brian Williams to Rick Sanchez to Bill O'Reilly to Glenn Beck doing some variation of Howard Beale on television every night, keeping that segment of resentful, afraid white Americans all riled up, clutching their remote controls, screaming at the television. You can call this "journalism" if you want, but I think we all know that it is something else entirely.