Is Fox So Crazy That It's Even Alienating Some Conservatives?
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It wasn't until the Florida recount in 2000, I think, that Fox News went all in with the GOP and made a conscious decision to sever its ties with traditional journalism. Since then, of course, whatever journalism links remained were certainly cut during Fox News' unabashed cheerleading of the Iraq war and unquestionably in the wake of the Obama's inauguration, when Fox News rushed into the fever swamps.
In fact, Fox News now routinely apes the most radical and hateful rhetoric found anywhere on the far right. Fox News, like the Republican Party (or at least Rush Limbaugh's Republican Party) is now for true believers only. Dissenting voices, such as Smith's, are no longer welcome. Viewers prefer a drum-tight conformity and become incensed when somebody veers off script, even for just two or three minutes. Fox News is for those who think that Obama is a fascist, that he might not be a natural-born citizen, and that he wants to take away your guns.
Basically, Fox News is for those who are convinced that Obama is destroying America on purpose.
Whether consciously or not (its prime-time shows are run as hands-off fiefdoms, so I doubt there's been internal coordination), Fox News has positioned itself as the opposition party of the Obama White House. And it's hard for anyone to make the serious claim that Fox News still practices journalism as it's commonly defined or recognized. The question then becomes, does Smith want to make his living being part of the opposition party?
And a party led by Beck?
What started the latest fracas? In reporting on the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust museum shooting, when it became known that the alleged gunman was a lone-wolf white supremacist, Smith recalled that the Department of Homeland Security had issued a report in April warning about exactly that type of attack. It was a report that conservatives universally condemned, claiming it targeted Obama's political opponents.
Last Wednesday, though, Smith stated the obvious:
[T]his is a former military guy and he's gone extremist. They were warning us for a reason -- not about something political or social or anything else. ... It was a warning to us all. And it appears now that they were right.
In the eyes of Fox News' right-wing viewers, that was heresy. After all, Fox News' own Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Bill O'Reilly had led the charge in demonizing the DHS report, claiming it represented a clear case of the Obama administration targeting (harassing?) everyday Americans, even "moms that worry about massive debt," Beck warned ominously. (The report, which was begun under the Bush administration, was actually about skinheads and white supremacists, but that never slowed Beck's attacks.)
Not only did Smith take part in some necessary truth-telling about the DHS report, he then bemoaned the "more and more frightening" emails he was receiving from conspiratorial "crazies" on the far right, who were feeding off anti-Obama conspiracy theories, "feeding each other the same bunch of hate that's not based in fact." Specifically, Smith singled out the shut-ins (my phrase, not his) who claim Obama isn't a natural-born citizen and therefore is ineligible to sit in the Oval Office. That right-wing school of thought has been going strong for the past year, and it turns out that the museum shooting suspect, James von Brunn, was a loyal disciple of it.
"We know it's absolutely -- there is no truth whatsoever -- zero -- to any of those ideas, yet they live within the computer and they fester in people's minds," Smith lamented.