Friday, April 17, 2009

Rabid Fox



On the tentative blog I noted the other day that Fox News is Out of Control. Glenn Beck in particular.

Fox News, the creation of a foreigner, by the way, infuriated that the public did not follow its lead in the last presidential election, has apparently presumed to take upon itself the mandate to identify all things that must be considered true-blue American while simultaneously abandoning all restraint in pursuing a scorched earth policy in opposition to the Obama administration. The Republican Party is unravelling and Fox is leading the way in its spiralling descent into lunacy. Even those of us who've been somewhat disappointed in some of Obama's early moves can't head back in this direction.

Meanwhile, there are those on the left who simply chortle about those on the right missing the double-entendre embarassingly present in regard to the right's own recent Fox-inspired tax protests and "teabagging." Just as an aside... where would we be without the likes of Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary to keep us all informed that there are actual terms for just about every damned thing that people can do? Is it really necessary? Maybe. In a pornified culture, I guess everything has to be indexed and searchable. Like I said over at William's, I might be getting too old for blogging. Time has passed me by. I remember when we would have simply called that kind of carrying-on "foreplay" or just "fooling around." Then again, our grandparents would probably have been horrified and called it something else, but that's a different story... At any rate, the left and the moderates should take Fox's direction a bit more seriously, I think. We're really moving into pretty scary territory in terms of where our public discourse is heading. Is it overly-dramatic to say that we're starting to behave in ways that countries who eventually succumb to civil wars behave?

The Huffington Post isn't shy about wading into these battles, and the right might say that they engage in the exact same behavior, but nevertheless I thought these observations were pretty much on the mark as far as a critique of Fox is concerned. Dead-on accurate commentary or a failure to recognize a plank in one's own eye? Extended exceprts:

So, to sum up:

1. People who make far less than 250K per year, whose tax rates will be cut, spent Wednesday out in public demanding that Obama stop increasing their taxes. They proudly marched and defiantly yelled and etc., etc., insisting with waved signs and shaken fists on their opposition to something that is not the case. They have made it their business to prevent something from happening that was never going to happen in the first place--and they mean it!

2. These same people, whose economic and physical well-being are a matter of supreme indifference to the richest families in America, have been persuaded to insist on policies that will only benefit the richest families in America. There is a term for these people, and it isn't "right-wing" or "conservative" or "patriotic" or even "Republicans." The term is "sucker." These people are suckers. They have been tricked and manipulated into working against their own interests and for the interests of people who could literally not care less about them. Their patron saint isn't Barry Goldwater or Thomas Paine or Ronald Reagan or Jesus H. Christ. It's P.T. Barnum.

3. People who would be forced into bankruptcy by an attack of appendicitis, who have no idea what "socialism" is or how it differs from "communism" or "fascism," were to be seen Wednesday out in force, self-righteously pissed off and calling Obama a socialist, a communist, and a fascist, often interchangeably. And what are their ideas about how to deal with the worst economic crisis in eighty years? "Let them go bankrupt!" Ignorance and indignation: it doesn't get any more American than that...

4. Glenn Beck--a prancing, sobbing, gibbering buffoon who will say literally anything to keep his audience's attention--has become the new spokesperson for the right. Yes, just when you thought Sean Hannity was, not only as bad as it got, but as bad as it could get, here comes the next level in televised right-wing demagoguery. Glenn Beck--whom Dickens himself would delete from a novel as being "too obvious"--is a star. As a consequence of this...

5. Rush Limbaugh has become the "de facto leader" of the right. Think about it--if you dare! Glenn Beck has accomplished the impossible. This is science fact, not science fiction: He's somehow managed to make the country's most famous sex-tourist drug-addict saloon-loudmouth hate-mongering hypocrite seem dignified and thoughtful. Glenn Beck has succeeded in bestowing gravitas on Rush Limbaugh. Still, maybe we shouldn't be surprised. When the spotlight is grabbed by the dancing monkey, the rhinoceros in the background starts to look downright serious and thoughtful.

6. Fox News, a factory of propaganda and lies on the best of days, has decided "the hell with it" and become an outright partisan fomenter of "revolution." While formerly (as a study showed during the Bush years), watching Fox News actually made one stupider, now watching it (as a follow-up will surely prove) makes one insane. During Bush, Fox News merely promulgated falsehoods. Now, during Obama, its function is to corrode its viewers' very understanding of reality itself...

7. The devolution of the Republican Party (for which Fox News serves as Pravda) proceeds apace. The GOP, fifty years ago the Cotillion Party, is now the Toga Party Party. Newt Gingrich--hippie-dippy marital history, ethics charges and all--is newly converted to Catholicism and plotting his return. (Who said there are no third--or is it fourth?--acts in American lives?) The governor of Texas threatens to secede. (Memo to Gov. Perry: Here's your Stetson; what's your hurry? Just leave us Austin as your going-away present to us.)

This is not "the loyal opposition." This is Animal House...

What does it all mean? I'm asking, reader. Is this widespread madness fun? Is it business and politics as usual? Should we derive from it nothing more than good old fashioned schadenfreude, and just pass the popcorn while watching the people who created and supported the catastrophes of the past eight years as they now wallow in their impotence and irrelevance?

Or is all this manipulated, phony "grass-roots" outrage fated to lead to some serious danger to innocent people?

The anger and fear of these people are real and, probably in most cases, justified, however much they misidentify their causes. That's what the Limbaughs and Hannitys and Becks depend on exploiting in order to make themselves rich and famous. But this entire cycle (rage; exploitation; more rage) seems to me worse than usual, as does its manipulation by the wealthy and their servants.

Is it? Or is all this just more publicized than it used to be? Doesn't publicizing it make it grow, and therefore make it worse? Or is it a relatively minor, if lurid, sideshow?

Should I be worried, indifferent, or vastly amused? What does it all mean?

10 comments:

Jack said...

Am I allowed to praise your post? Jack

Liam said...

So much that is great, but I think that "Their patron saint isn't Barry Goldwater or Thomas Paine or Ronald Reagan or Jesus H. Christ. It's P.T. Barnum" is the best.

You're confusing me with the new blog, Jeff? Where do I go to get my dose of Jeffness?

crystal said...

While formerly (as a study showed during the Bush years), watching Fox News actually made one stupider, now watching it (as a follow-up will surely prove) makes one insane. hee hee :)

Maybe the republican party will implode and the independents can be the new republicans. Hard to feel sorry for a party that built its foundation of greed, hard-heartedness, and lies.

shera10 said...

A view from Italy: I have never seen a America President so hatred by opposition. It is unbelievable.
I don’t watch Fox News, but I wander on internet. I’m flabbergasted by Catholic conservative (Republican) blogs. Obama is always depicted as a muslin, a person who hates catholic people and faith, an infanticide, a person not natural born American so unable to be President, and so a liar and an usurper. They really hate him. Why? Clinton too was pro-choice.

Here in Europe we love Obama, after Bush , he has restored the America values that made the USA a leader of western civilisation and not only an economic leader.

I was in Istanbul, Turkey, for Easter. I spoke with people. Turkish people always was friends of the Usa, but with Bush and his war between civilisation in Iraq, they gave up. Now Obama reached out them again, he really touched the people’ hearth.

Cristina

Jeff said...

Am I allowed to praise your post? JackJack,

I suppose it beats the alternative. Even a busted clock is right twice a day, eh? I'm pretty confident in saying, however, that you won't like them all.

Liam,

Re: P.T. Barnum... Yeah, Ellis over at the HP can turn a phrase pretty well.

Don't mess with the Coca-Cola formula? Is that what you're trying to tell me? Yes, I can take a cue... If the new thing won't fly, it won't fly. That's fine. I need to update the template on this one, though. New content, gadgets, widgets, images, etc...

Crystal,

Bring back the Populists and the Bull Mooose Party!

Cristina,

You should start an english-speaking blog.

Are they still liking Obama in Europe after the G20 summit? They seemed to have some strong differences of opinion with him over the stimulus plans.

The right in America despised Clinton too, but after 8 years of seeing Bush getting lambasted by the left, and of seeing their ideas discredited, they are in an especially ornery mood this time. The racial and religious overtones add to the tension.

Hey, what's going on with Adriano??

Jack said...

Jeff, great when you are on political matters; but on r........matters?????Keep thinking for yourself. Jack

shera10 said...

Jeff

"Are they still liking Obama in Europe after the G20 summit?"

France and Germany had strong differences of opinion with Obama, but Merkel and Sarkozy, as everyone, were pleased with the Obama’s attitude. He was firm in his opinions, but he dealt with Europe on equal terms, he wasn’t arrogant and often insulting man as Bush.

And European people love Obama more after the summit.


Poor Adriano! He is very unhappy in Italy, so he is spending all the time in Brazil, and he drinks too much.

cowboyangel said...

Jeff, just because one laughs at the tea-baggers for their choice of names doesn't mean one doesn't take the darker aspects seriously. I would argue that laughing at them is actually a very effective way of defusing them. They could give a rat's ass if the left gets upset at them. But laughing at them... People who take themselves too seriously get very upset when people laugh at them.

As far as the Barnum excerpt: 1) It actually doesn't make sense. If they're the suckers, Barnum wouldn't be their patron saint, because he was the one supposedly taking advantage of them being suckers. 2) There's no historical proof Barnum actually said "There's a sucker born every minute." 3) Though he was a tee-totaller, Barnum was far too intelligent, creative and brilliant to be associated with these people.

The excerpts are pretty good, but they all fail to mention the main driving force behind what's going on: racism.

It's a scary movement. But it's not unusual. Bleak economic times. A lot of uncertainty. A feeling that the country is in trouble. These kind of extremist voices tend to come out then. We've already been through a lot of this in 1991-1992. Go back and read articles about Perot and some of the people voicing their concerns at the time. Even the sovereignty/secession trend (which is going on in more than just Texas right now) was big then.

Jeff said...

Cristina,

Poor Adriano! He is very unhappy in Italy, so he is spending all the time in Brazil, and he drinks too much.Too much fame too quickly. More than he can handle, I think. It sounds like he's lost his passion for the game. Maybe he'll be OK after a bit of rest.

Hi William,

Though he was a tee-totaller, Barnum was far too intelligent, creative and brilliant to be associated with these people.Ha. That's good.

just because one laughs at the tea-baggers for their choice of names doesn't mean one doesn't take the darker aspects seriously. I would argue that laughing at them is actually a very effective way of defusing them. True, to a point. I argued for a long time here that laughter and satire are very useful when the powerless are taking on the powerful. In this particular case, though, if Anderson Cooper says "It's hard to talk while you're teabagging" and the right responds with "You ought to know", I don't see how well served we all are. It just seems strange to have the pundits contributing to the coarsening of the culture so readily. I'd like to see a little more Bob Schieffer-like gravitas out of them.

Do you really think racism is the dominant factor in this?

cowboyangel said...

It just seems strange to have the pundits contributing to the coarsening of the culture so readily.Well . . . :-) It was hard not to in this case. It was probably better left to Stewart and Colbert, you're right. Although I did enjoy Rachel Maddow and Anna Marie Cox "discussing" it on live TV, with staff cracking up off-camera. Rachel finally had to say, "No more laughing off-camera or I won't be able to get through this segment." It was pretty funny. I guess the unfortunate use of a sexual slang term, combined with such incredible ignorance and such ugly racism was too much to resist.

After posting, I realized I contradicted myself saying "racism is the main driving force" and then talking about people freaking out in bad economic times. I think it's both in this case. Is racism the main driving force - I don't know? But from watching various clips, reading articles and talking with people I know, I'm convinced that racism was behind much of it. Because, to be honest, the tax part just doesn't make any sense whatsoever. What is it - like a A 3% tax hike on the wealthiest 4% in the country? A rate lower than it was under Reagan. And you've got all these white trash people up in arms with "Obama's a Socialist Muslim" signs. They're truly insane. Reactionaries unfastened from reality. And the Republican leaders and talking heads aren't much better. You're very right to call Fox on this crap. They behaved reprehensibly, stirring up the same kind of vicious, racist crap Sarah Palin was playing with during the campaign.

For some of those people, racism WAS the main driving force.