Halloween is approaching and the hobgoblins of conservative media are already spinning nightmarish tales of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). Actually, they have been doing it for quite some time, dating back to at least March 2010 when Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller published an article headlined “IRS looking to hire thousands of armed tax agents to enforce healthcare laws.” Fox News reposted the article on its community web site and Fib Factory, Fox Nation despite the fact that it was a complete fabrication and was debunked by the Annenberg Center’s FactCheck.org
Journalism is a competitive field, and the best and the brightest are highly valued by reputable news enterprises. And then there’s Fox News.
Once upon a time, the most outlandish fantasies of fringe political fabulists were confined to a narrow spectrum on the AM radio dial. They concocted delusional narratives that ranged from murderous first ladies to galactic alliances with Martians. It was an entertaining world of fiction and a guilty pleasure for some, even as the true believers were convinced of the frightening fate that was unfolding.
In the cable news business there is one network that relentlessly boasts about its prominence and formidable presence above all others. Fox News is clearly taken with itself and is even promoted in its own ads as "The Most Powerful Name in News." That makes it all the more curious that Fox seems to shudder when confronted with opposing arguments.
2012 was a dismal year for Fox News. The PR arm of the GOP failed to fulfill its prime directive: advancing the interests of Mitt Romney and the Republican Party. It spent much of the year constructing an alternative reality that left millions of its flock in shock when President Obama won an overwhelming reelection. It refused to accept the facts on the ground and denigrated polls (even its own) when the results conflicted with the fictional narrative it was peddling. And perhaps most painful of all, Fox surrendered its ratings lead to MSNBC. Two-thirds of its primetime lineup (Hannity and Van Susteren) dropped to second place behind the competition on MSNBC (Maddow and O’Donnell). However, Fox’s travails did not occur for lack of effort. It was clearly operating at the top of its capacity to distort and deceive. In the process it unleashed some of the most feverishly biased reporting, even for Fox News. What follows are a few of the worst departures from ethical journalism by Fox in the last year.
When Fox News debuted sixteen years ago, it was crafted from scratch to be a partisan outlet for right-wing propaganda and a platform for advancing a conservative agenda. Its founder, Rupert Murdoch, was already an internationally known purveyor of right-slanted newspapers and broadcasters. Complimenting Fox’s television presence is its Internet community web site, Fox Nation. The statement of purpose posted on the Fox Nation web site says that it is“committed to the core principles of tolerance, open debate, civil discourse, and fair and balanced coverage of the news.” Needless to say, they have fallen wide of their alleged purpose by several light years.
Fox News is continuing to show weakness in its primetime schedule in the wake of President Obama’s reelection. In the eight days since election day MSNBC’s average audience for the key 25-54 year old demographic drew about 8% more viewers than Fox. [Source: TVNewser, weekday Nielsen ratings from 11/7-11/16]
For obvious reasons, the American conservative movement has long been dogged by accusations of racism and racial insensitivity. From their famed Southern strategy to their determined efforts to suppress minority voting via phony voter ID initiatives to their race-baiting Obama attacks, conservatives have made clear their opposition to a tolerant, multicultural America. In fact, much of their electoral strategy relies on scaring older, white voters about blacks and Hispanics taking over "their" country.
The lengths to which our conservative establishment goes to bury Obama in mud often resemble D-Movie spy plots that set new standards for implausibility.