A model shows her pride with this Faux News T-shirt.
[ Image Source ]
Fox has never cared whether its “news” was true or not — in fact, the network’s freedom to publish lies has been explicitly affirmed in a 2003 appellate court decision — for a simple reason: What it calls “news” is unmitigated demagoguery, propaganda undiluted by the least modicum of fairness, balance or honesty. Today, as this report shows, Fox and company have so blurred the line between news and satire that not only its readers and viewers, but also some of its staff, may no longer be able to tell the difference.
I will never know who first bestowed the nickname “Faux News,” although it was original to me when I first deployed it in a political chat channel, also in 2003, just as the U.S. was preparing to invade Iraq. Now, upon researching the question, I find that whoever first thought of it did so years before me. In fact, another site was posting logos using it in 2001, although the site operator admits that another site has owned the rights to the FauxNews domain name since 1999.
What all of this proves is that Fox News’ mendacity has long been common knowledge. But precisely how insidious Fox is remains a developing story in itself, for every day brings new evidence to light.
In this case, to have permitted this satire, from the Onion, to be published as if it were a serious story is no comic oversight: Fox did this, we may be sure, precisely to plant further “juicy rumors” among its followers. We may laugh at their ignorance, but that will do nothing to change the fervent and unshakeable conviction each of them will take to his grave that Barack Obama sent a “rambling 75,000-word email to the entire nation,” thereby proving himself unhinged.
I often wish we could vaccinate people against lies. As it is, the “infection” rate is horrific: If being deluded were an actual disease, it would need to be studied in Level Four biocontainment conditions, so easily will some audiences believe anything they are told, as long as it is consistent with their opinions. This is called confirmation bias, and it’s a common human condition; but as we have seen, some cases are more virulent than others.
These tragic cases explain the people who voted for George W. Bush, watched him do his best to turn the country into a giant landfill for the benefit of the CEOs who put him in office, and then voted for him again. They also account for the continued popularity of Glenn Beck, Pamela Geller, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Sarah Palin and assorted other professional prevaricators.
And, without further ado, a screenshot of the parody in question: