This Is How Fox News Brainwashes Its Viewers: Our In-Depth Investigation of the Propaganda Cycle

2016 presidential primary season is in full swing, which means, among other things, that Fox News’ ratings are skyrocketing. Fox News has been the most watched cable news network in the country for 12 straight years, regularly pulling in more viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined. During the first Republican primary debate of this season, Fox clocked its most-ever (24 million) viewers, making the two-hour show the highest-rated non-sports cable telecast of all time.

Over the last ten years, everyone I know has lost a friend or family member or mentor to Fox News. Like me, they have watched helplessly as people they love have become part of the conservative punditry herd and, over time, traded their compassion for paranoia; their thoughtful opinions for manufactured outrage; and their empathy for hateful rhetoric. These people — these moms and dads and aunts and uncles and grandparents and brothers and sisters and pastors and politicians and friends — have been deceived into believing that Fox News and Fox-approved talk radio hosts provide the only commentary they can trust.

What these people so dear to us fail to understand is that Fox News is not only uninterested in being fair and balanced; it is also uninterested in being a reliable source of news. That’s because Fox News is playing a zero-sum political game in which every major news story is an opportunity to use their viewers as pawns to advance the power and agenda of the most extremist ideology of the Republican Party.

Consider Trayvon Martin. After he was murdered by George Zimmerman, multiple journalists pointed out that Fox News had been oddly silent on the subject. Until they had a firm grasp on how to mold the story to their benefit, they refused to report on it. Then, as Media Matters senior fellow Eric Boehlert explains: “Obama addressed it, and once Obama enters the conversation about race, you know, [Fox News] went from zero to a hundred … they decided that the story was partisan, and that supporting Trayvon Martin was the Democratic position, supporting the guy who killed an unarmed teen was the Republican conservative position, and so they set up the markers, and went for it.”

When a grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown, Sean Hannity proved Boehlert’s claim. Hannity was practically giddy when he announced to his audience: “Zero for three, a three-time loser! President Obama on high-profile race cases.”

Study after study after study after study has shown that Fox News viewers are the most uninformed and misinformed people in America. One recent study even found that people who didn’t watch any news programs at all had a firmer grasp on the reality of current events than those who only watched Fox News.

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Rather than adhering to any kind of journalistic standard when reporting the news, or — as is the case with liberal-leaning MSNBC — reporting truthfully on the news and offering ideological commentary grounded in facts, Fox News starts with their end goal in mind and works backwards. How can a news story be used to damage their viewers’ perceptions of President Obama or the Democratic Party? How can a news story be used to bolster Republican politicians, or advance the causes of Republican-leaning policy influencers like the National Rifle Association or evangelical Christians? How can a news story be used to vilify causes championed by progressive Americans?

Once they’ve settled on the outcome they want, Fox News shapes its narrative and sets in motion its brainwashing cycle.

Fox News’ use of propaganda to isolate and indoctrinate its viewers is deliberate and terrifyingly effective. It thrives off of fear-based sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and dogmatic intolerance toward anyone who is not a straight, white Christian.


The Fox News Propaganda Cycle

I’ve been studying Fox News’ methodology since 2004, when I saw someone I love get pulled into their orbit and transformed for the first time. This article is the culmination of all my research. Below you’ll see a chart I made outlining the way Fox News and their talk radio counterparts use classic propaganda techniques to isolate and indoctrinate their viewers/listeners. And below that, you’ll find an explanation of each technique, along with examples of what these methods look like in action. There are thousands of examples to choose from. I only picked a handful.

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Isolate Viewers

“When you’ve got the national liberal media working compulsively on your behalf, it is very difficult to break through the noise to the reality.” – Lou Dobbs, November 2012

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“The liberal elite” is a concept created by Richard Nixon’s campaign during his bid for presidency in 1960. Feminists who were advocating for workplace equality; black people who were working to end racist violence, segregation, and laws against interracial marriage; and anti-war demonstrators who were weary of the war in Vietnam were making white men uneasy, so the Nixon campaign began branding those activists and their sympathizers as “the liberal elite.” Good old hardworking white men like Nixon were the real Americans, and the “liberal elite” were a threat to a traditional, God-approved, Founding Fathers-sanctioned way of life.

Fox News has piggybacked off Nixon’s strategy and expanded it with wild success.

False Dichotomies

Creating a false dichotomy is a propaganda technique used to oversimplify complicated issues and force people to believe they have an either/or choice. The group creating the false dichotomy knows many choices are available, but for their message to be successful, they must convince listeners that their choices are limited. Fox News and its talk radio counterparts don’t simply position themselves against MSNBC; they position themselves against literally every other source of information. You can choose the good guy, or you can choose the bad guy. You can get your news from Fox and Fox-approved talk radio hosts (true patriots who are trying to save the country) or you can get your news from the liberal media (deceitful or delusional people who are trying to destroy the country).

Maintaining a false dichotomy is essential for Fox News. If their viewers receive information or analysis from any other group, no matter how apolitical or nonpartisan that group is, viewers will be forced to confront the misinformation that is pressed onto them by Fox News.

Ad Nauseam

Ad nauseam is a propaganda tactic that involves repeating a phrase or an idea over and over and over until an audience begins to accept it as fact. Fox News uses the ad nauseam technique in every step of their propaganda cycle, but it’s most crucial in the isolation phase because it’s most effective when a viewer/listener’s media sources are limited. After creating the false dichotomy between Fox and every other news source, Fox pundits scorn the “liberal media” or “mainstream media” with relentless fervor. Political wins that don’t line up with conservative ideology are caused by the evil liberal media. Anyone who questions Fox News is part of the lying liberal media. If you read something on the internet that made you doubt Fox News, it’s because the internet is controlled by the manipulative liberal media.

Hour after hour, day after day, Fox uses the phrases “liberal media” and “mainstream media” to perpetually reinforce the false dichotomy that isolates Fox viewers from reality.

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Confirmation Bias and Cognitive Dissonance

Once a person has settled on a core belief, they are likely to seek out information that validates that belief and avoid information that challenges it. They are also more likely to bend evidence to fit inside the paradigm of their belief than they are to alter their belief to align with evidence suggesting their belief is incorrect. The practice of accepting only information that confirms something you already believe while rejecting any information that challenges that belief is called confirmation bias. Having core beliefs challenged causes cognitive dissonance.

One of the main reasons Fox News is so effective at using cognitive dissonance to keep people away from other news sources is that Fox has strategically aligned itself with evangelical Christianity. So, if one of Fox News’ teachings is called into question, Fox itself is called into question; and if Fox is synonymous with God’s politics, God’s politics are called into question; and if God’s politics are called into question, God is called into question. Therefore, any challenge to Fox is framed as an attack on God himself.

Creating cognitive dissonance by framing oneself as God’s true ally and spokesperson is one of the most powerful propaganda techniques of all time. It has worked for fascists on a national scale and it has worked for cult leaders operating out of barns. It is especially compelling in the United States, where our belief that we are God’s chosen people has been methodically woven into our national identity since John Winthrop gave his “City on a Hill” speech in 1630, before ever setting foot on this continent.

+ Fox News radio host Todd Starnes calls notoriously anti-LGBT restaurant Chick-Fil-A “the official chicken of Jesus.”

+ Bill O’Reilly fights an imaginary war to preserve the celebration of Christmas. 

+ When Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson went on his now-infamous homophobic tirade in GQ, Sean Hannity called Robertson’s remarks “old fashioned traditional Christian sentiment and values.” Erick Erickson said Robertson “spoke openly of his Christian faith. Because he offended a secular left at war with orthodox Christianity, he must be punished.” And Jim Pinkerton called his suspension from the show “a purge of Southern white Christian patriotic culture out of TV.”


Create Enemy

“The days of [minorities] not having any power are over, and they are angry. And they want to use their power as a means of retribution.” – Rush Limbaugh, June 2009

“This is the new America; this ain’t your father’s America.” – Dick Morris, November 2012

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The most important component of maintaining a world built on propaganda is creating an enemy who is excluded from an in-group. Bouncing off of Nixon’s concept of traditional Americans, Fox has cultivated an image of its in-group (for its in-group) as people who love God, who love their families, and who love their country. Once the parameters of the in-group have been established, the process of othering begins. By exploiting pre-existing beliefs, images, and negative stereotypes, an out-group is formed. In the case of Fox, this out-group, again, aligns with Nixon’s definition of the “liberal elite”: people who challenge the oppression of the established power structure.

Once the enemy has been created, there’s no need to appeal to logic. In her fantastic book Enemy Images in War Propaganda, Marja Vuorinen explains that humans tend to think of themselves and their in-groups as possessing all the qualities of good virtue (“honesty, righteousness, purity, proper manners, hard work, right religion”), and in an attempt to preserve that fragile self-image, humans project the opposite attributes (“evil, untruthful, cooked, lazy, superstitious, barbaric”) onto groups of people who are not like them. Fox is addictive not only because it feeds a specific ideology, but also because it provides daily reassurance that Fox viewers are God’s chosen Good Guys by reiterating that the “liberal elite” are the Bad Guys.

Projection/Flipping

Projection/flipping is simply falsely accusing someone else of the doing/being the thing you’re responsible for doing/being. These techniques are Fox News favorites. They are used in every step of Fox’s propaganda cycle, but they’re especially effective at creating enemies.

+ On a November 2012 episode of The O’Reilly Factor, notorious bully Bill O’Reilly lambasted dishonest media culture and “vicious” people from the far-left, saying: “There are entire media operations that exist solely to promote ideology; it’s obviously a bad situation that is getting worse.” He is describing himself and Fox news with alarming clarity, but accusing the “liberal media” of his crimes instead.

+ In May 2012, President Obama was asked on The View whether or not he expected the presidential election to be close. He replied, “When your name is Barack Obama, it’s always tight.” President Obama was referring to the tactics conservative pundits have used paint him as a non-American with sympathies and ties to radical Middle Eastern terrorist groups. That afternoon, however, Fox News regular Monica Crowley called the president “bigoted” for suggesting many Americans view him through a racist lens. This is flipping in a nutshell: When a victim calls you out on your bigotry and your suggest that they are the bigot and you are the victim.

+ Glenn Beck — who has a long history of spewing racist rhetoric against black people, Muslims, and undocumented workers — accused President Obama of having “a deep-seated hatred for white people, or the white culture.”

Character Assassination

Character assassination is a propaganda technique used to attack a person, rather than an idea, by discrediting, defaming, demonizing, or dehumanizing them. Fox News does not only use character assassination against liberal politicians and organizations; it also uses character assassination against innocent people involved in tragedies that could be catalysts for progressive changes, like greater equality for racial minorities or gun control. For example, Fox News has made it a common practice to create heroes out of the racist white men who kill innocent black teenagers.

+ When Trayvon Martin was murdered by George Zimmerman, Fox News guest Doug Burns said, “I know everybody keeps sarcastically saying about the Skittles. You could probably kill somebody with Skittles. The thing is, yeah, you’re spinning a lot of hypotheticals. And you could break a bottle of iced tea, right, with the jagged edge, and you could kill somebody with it.” Geraldo Rivera insisted that Martin’s “hoodie is as much responsible for [his] death as George Zimmerman was.” After which he continued to paint a menacing picture of the unarmed teenager and defend Zimmerman’s decision to kill him.

+ After Eric Garner was killed by New York City police who used an illegal chokehold on him, Fox News went to great lengths to blame his murder on Garner himself. The coroner’s report stated that Garner died of “compression of neck (chokehold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.” However, Fox News sought commentary from pundits who blamed Garner’s other health issues for his death, believed Garner had it coming because he was selling cigarettes illegally, or denied that he was even placed in a chokehold at all.

+ After unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was shot multiple times by Officer Darren Wilson, Fox News hosts repeatedly asserted that Brown was a “bad guy,” a narrative that included the perpetual presentation of false information.

+ When Freddie Gray was killed in the back of a police van in Baltimore, Fox News contributor Bo Dietel said, “I’m just hoping they did toxicology [on Gray]. Possibly he was on drugs.” When Geraldo Rivera arrived on the scene in Baltimore to cover the protests, he said residents seemed to be “looking for trouble.”

Scapegoating

Scapegoating is a propaganda technique used to place blame on an innocent group or individual to move blame away from the group or individual responsible for the problem, or to make sweeping generalizations about a group of people based on the actions of a few.

+ On The View in 2010, Bill O’Reilly said the reason he opposed a mosque being built near Ground Zero was because: “Muslims killed us on 9-11.”

+ The idea for an international cultural center in Manhattan was derided by Bill Hemmer as “the first stop for a radical jihadist who comes to America who wants to go pray.”

+ On The O’Reilly Factor, Ann Coulter said if all Muslims would boycott airlines we could dispense with airport security altogether.”

+ Megyn Kelly: “Jesus was a white man, too.”


Appeal to Fear

“I have to pick on the ACLU because they’re the most dangerous organization in the United States of America right now. Theirs by far. There’s nobody even close to that. They’re, like, second next to Al Qaeda.” – Bill O’Reilly, June 2004

“Why has the Black Lives Matter movement not been classified yet as a hate group? I mean, how much more has to go in this direction before someone actually labels it as such?” – Elizabeth Hasselbeck, August 2015

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Creating a climate of fear is essential to all propagandists, and Fox News is no exception. Fear is a primitive and often irrational emotion, so messages that appeal to fear bypass the brain’s logic center and land right in the hypothalamus, which controls a person’s fight-or-flight response. Like I mentioned above, Fox News’ out-group includes anyone who is not a straight white Christian, so it’s very easy for the network to exploit their viewers’ irrational fears of every minority group in America. The white victimization narrative is a cornerstone of Fox News’ (and Fox-adjacent talk radio hosts) programming. The idea they perpetuate is that the way of life treasured by hard-working, God-fearing, America-loving, family-first Conservatives is under constant threat by minority groups.

Media scholar/sociologist David L. Altheide’s book, Creating Fear: News and the Construction of Crisis, points out that “the poor, dispossessed, and most recently franchised segments of society are disproportionately associated with the largest fear application.”

The people who consume Fox News’ messages do so in a state of perpetual state of fear; reason is replaced by anxiety, and the ability to think logically is lost.

Minority-Baiting/Coded Language

Minority-baiting is a propaganda technique used to prey on fear that is based in otherness. Fox News accomplishes this by reaffirming the bigoted, ignorant beliefs their viewers have ingested throughout the course of their lives from TV, movies, books, advertising, political campaigns, and American foreign policy propaganda; then, they create a false narrative in which the stereotyped minority is threatening the American way of life.

In Ian Haney López’s masterwork on the language of race, Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class, he describes coded language as words or phrases that “trigger racial anxiety and allow plausible deniability by crafting language that lets the speaker deny that he’s even thinking about race.” One of Fox News’ most successful and despicable propaganda tactics is perpetually suggesting that people who talk about race are the real racists, while methodically weaving coded racial messages into their programming. Here are just a few examples:

+ When Fox News talks about “State Rights,” they’re invoking the language used as a coded racial appeal during the Civil Rights Movement that gave states the right to ignore federally mandated racial integration.

+ The phrase “illegal alien” triggers fears about immigrants being criminals who want to undermine the American way of life.

+ Phrases like “Defender of marriage” or “defender of faith” are used to position advocates of LGBT equality as people determined to destroy marriage or destroy faith.

+ Words like “thug,” “ghetto,” and “hood” are used to other black people and their cultural expressions while drawing to mind violent images from pop culture.

Stereotyping

Stereotyping is a propaganda technique in which pre-existing ideas about a racial, ethnic, or cultural group are exaggerated and used to make generalizations that usually perpetuate discrimination and inequality. Fox News stereotypes by using coded language, yes, but they also stereotype by presenting “dramatic anecdotes in place of scientific evidence, promoting isolated events as trends, [and] depicting categories of people as dangerous.”

+ When Fox News talks about “welfare” and “food stamps,” they do so with the unspoken suggestion that these programs are about lazy minorities taking wealth from hard-working white people. Same with “entitlement society.”

+ The phrase “black-on-black crime” suggests that black people are inherently criminal, and that all violent actions taken against them are justified because white people are defending themselves/their family against someone who is, or likely will be, a criminal.

+ Following O’Reilly’s The View appearance during which he said “Muslims killed us on 9-11,” Brian Kilmeade defended him on Fox & Friends by saying: “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.”


Create Alternate Reality

“By the way, who ended slavery and Jim Crow? Christians. The Rev. Martin Luther King. Christians. Christianity is the reason we don’t have slavery in the world today.” – Tucker Carlson, February 2015

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Misinformation

Misinformation is simply spreading false information that is intended to deceive. Fox News constantly, purposefully misinforms its viewers. I’m going to list a handful of examples below with an annotation about which of the aforementioned propaganda techniques the misinformation is used to play into. There are entire websites dedicated to correcting Fox News’ lies on a daily basis. Remember that Fox News viewers overwhelmingly accept these lies as irrefutable facts.

+ In March 2010, Fox & Friends co-anchor Gretchen Carlson said the Texas Board of Education is was considering new history textbooks that would “eliminate references to certain holidays, Founding Fathers, the Constitution! I mean, no surprise that Christmas, they want to get rid of that because they’ve been doing that for the last couple of years, but c’mon, the Constitution?” Untrue. (Isolate viewers: ad nauseam, cognitive dissonance.)

+ In January 2014, on Fox & Friends, Brian Kilmeade said Colorado welfare recipients can turn their benefits into cash at ATMS, which they will do to buy marijuana. Untrue. (Appeal to fear: minority-baiting, coded language, stereotyping.)

+ In April 2014 Todd Starnes said that liberals had figured out a Facebook algorithm and “all the people getting banned from Facebook are somehow conservatives.” Untrue. (Isolate viewers: false dichotomies, ad nauseam. Create an enemy: character assassination.)

+ In February The Five co-host Dana Perions said about climate change: “The temperature readings have been fabricated, and it’s all blowing up in their (scientists’) faces.” On the same panel, Kimberly Guilfoyle called climate change research “fraud science.” Obviously untrue. (Just pure misinformation, as are 72% of Fox News claims about climate change.)

+ In September 2014, Britt Hume said that President Obama was sending a much larger force to deal with Ebola in West African countries than with ISIS. Super untrue. (Appeal to fear: minority-baiting, coded language.)

+ And let’s not forget Birtherism. In 2013, 64 percent of Republicans still believed President Obama was not born in the United States. (Appeal to fear: minority-baiting, coded language, stereotyping.)

Confuse

The propaganda technique of purposefully confusing people is different than misinforming. Instead of presenting outright lies as facts, confusion is implemented by presenting deliberately vague generalities so the audience can fill in the blank with the messages they’ve already received about people who have already been othered. It’s talking around an idea with willful ambiguousness for the purpose of obscuring facts.

+ Looking at the way Fox News and its viewers bumbled around in various states of bewilderment after the 2012 election is the perfect way to illustrate that point. In the build-up to election day, the math that lead multiple long-respected, nonpartisan polling organizations to forecast a win for President Obama was condemned by Fox News as “scientific gobbledygook,” “liberal media noise,” and “numbers that parrot the mainstream media.”

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Rewrite History

Rewriting history is simply lying about events that have already happened. It’s a type of misinformation in which the propagandists’ current opinions are justified by presenting an inaccurate view of the past.

+ After the 2012 presidential election, Fox News blamed President Obama’s campaign for many of the public perceptions about Mitt Romney that led to his defeat. However, it was Republican candidates who crafted those messages during the primary campaign season. Fox told its viewers President Obama was responsible for Americans believing the narrative that Romney “was a vulture, that he was a vampire,” a “Vulture Capitalist.” In fact, it was Rick Perry who coined the phrase and Newt Gingrich who continued to promote it. Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire who ultimately became one of Romney’s chief financial supporters, is the one who financed Gingrich’s now-infamous “King of Bain” attack documentary

+ In an attempt to paint President Obama as soft on terrorism, Eric Bolling, co-host of the Fox News program The Five, said there were no terrorist attacks in America during President Bush’s time as president: “America was certainly safe between 2000 and 2008. I don’t remember any terrorist attacks on American soil during that period of time.” Not a single person on the panel pointed out that Bolling had either forgotten or was deliberately excluding 9/11, the most devastating terrorist attack in United States history. When Bolling was called out by basically every non-Fox new organization in the country, he said that he misspoke, but that the “radical liberal left” was “being petty” for expressing outrage over his lie.

+ In January 2013, Sean Hannity told Fox News viewers that there were 8.3 million fewer Americans working than when President Bush left office in 2008, which was completely untrue.


What kind of effects do we see when large numbers of people are consuming baseless propaganda under the impression that it’s news journalism? Well, a study conducted by Cambridge’s Journal of Politics found that all Americans — not just evangelical Christians or diehard Republicans — are susceptible to Fox News’ message. Democratic members of Congress became more sympathetic to Republican causes after being exposed to Fox News. Their hostility toward Mexican immigration increased, for example, as did their belief in inaccuracies about climate change and the Iraq war. Fox News deliberately misinforms its viewers about things like climate change to score political capital, and most scientists now believe the earth is on the brink of its sixth mass extinction. Fox News not only fosters a culture of terror and hate; it also purposefully contributes to the destruction of the literal planet.

Though Fox News will deny it, one of the reasons Donald Trump has been so successful in Republican Primary polls is that he’s explicitly saying what Fox News has been using coded messages to say for the last decade. Fox has convinced their viewership that brown people are inherently criminal, and black people are inherently lazy, and gay people are in opposition to God, and women don’t deserve the same rights as men or control over their own bodies. It’s not surprising that when Trump bluntly gives voice to these opinions, many Republicans — the majority of whom consume Fox News at least weekly — support him. He is doing nothing more than parroting the message of Fox News with more directness. When two white dudes attack a homeless Latino man and pee on him, citing Donald Trump as their inspiration, that is a direct effect of Fox News propaganda cycle.

My goal with this article isn’t to ridicule people who watch Fox News; my goal is to to make plain this deliberate, manipulative cycle Fox traps its viewers inside, so we can use our knowledge to begin to set our friends and family free.

Armed with these truths, maybe we won’t all feel so helpless during this election season.


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Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.

Heather has written 427 articles for us.

199 Comments

  1. Thumb up 10

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    Oh man, I love a good infographic. Great work Heather! If only we could post this article on Fox New’s website so that Fox News viewers would actually believe it…

    When my grandpa was in a nursing home, the tv in the dining room was always tuned to Fox News. We considered that to be cruel and unusual punishment, but the aides insisted that the residents loved it and would hear nothing of turning it to another station.

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      Heather, this is excellent. I’m going to post this on my website for my documentary – THE BRAINWASHING OF MY DAD – where I talk about how my dad changed when he started listening to talk radio, and I go through the history of this far-right, incredibly destructive media and some of these very techniques. Great article. Thank you.

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      When I walk into an establishment that is playing Fox News, I ask them to turn off their anti – American propaganda and let them know I will not be frequenting their establishment anymore.

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      I agree. Put it on fox news .i think you`ll find most people would be shocked to hear what have come up with.i know I am. Now if u can explain why all the other news sources have not picked up on this epiphany of yours. My guess is the people u appeal too could not after seven years most likely doesn`t know whose vice president .

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      Omg, the assisted living home that my friend’s grandma is in also cranks up the Faux News! It’s literally on 24/7. That’s all they watch, and they constantly regurgitate all the spoon fed lies

  2. Thumb up 18

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    For most of here at AS, I think this is all stuff we subconsciously know and understand, but can never properly articulate. And here, you have laid it out, point by point, with infographics and examples and references and hyperlinks for us to understand and use. This is beautiful. Thank you for all the incredibly difficult (and most likely, brain-melting) work you undoubtedly put in to make this for us.

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    Wow. This is amazing journalism. I think the information in here, especially the infographics, will be super useful when I’m trying to debate with people about this stuff in the future. Also, seeing such a thorough analysis of their techniques is just…truly chilling.

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    I posted this on my facebook and I’m going to repost here for more discussion.

    I need to read it a few more times but I definitely have some questions and comments. After a first read, here are my comments. As like everything else in life, I like to approach things as a research scientist, because that’s what I do.

    1. I absolutely agree with Heather that this is a thing that Fox News is doing, and that is my opinion. Proving this opinion/hypothesis in a way to make the people in my life who are big fans of this news channel is far more difficult than it seems. This is because a lot of these studies you see posted on the internet aren’t peer reviewed or if they are, they’re reposted by websites who don’t understand how peer reviewed studies work. I would love to see an appendix to this article about all the fact-checking websites and all the studies that she either linked to or used graphics of, who they are, who works there, how the fact checking works, how the study was done, etc. A methods section, if you will. Otherwise, they’re of the same validity as the “studies” that fox news uses.

    2. I think something that Heather didn’t talk about that I would like to see a discussion about is how badly you can deceive people with just a color bar. I know, as a geologist, I’ve got a pretty unique experience with making graphs and maps and using a color bar as a tool, but this tactic alone can take real data and skew it any which way you want to skew it. Just knowing how this works will both scare the crap out of you and also give you some better tools to approach all these data and graphs.

    All in all, a really nice starting point in this discussion and it’s clear Heather worked really hard on this and came up with some really good stuff. Well done. Mona would be proud. I would love to see Autostraddle follow up on this with more … everything … to really hammer home the smoking gun that I think is there.

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      I wholeheartedly agree with this. And, while I’m sure Fox News are guilty of many, if not all of these things, I have to question whether the same is not true of many liberal media outlets? I have certainly seen many online articles agitating for liberal views providing information without any credible sources, and conservatives with a much better quality of arguments than Fox news. Saying this as someone who doesn’t find either side quite convincing…Point in case: empty barrels make the most noise. And until the public starts being more critical of the information they receive and venture out of the comfort zone of peers who agree with their point of view, that will continue to be the case.

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      I’ve actually been working on something quite similar. I write for a bank of liberal web outlets. We never claim to be anything other than blatantly left-wing, BUT- the difference is we ALWAYS source from credible places. ALWAYS. No lies or propaganda or anything like Fox does, and certainly no insinuations about our way being the only right way to think.

      Fox is full of outright lies. My research is expanding to include hate radio as well, and focuses mostly on the fear that Fox and other right-wing sources of “news” has used for the past decade and a half to literally scare people into being the notoriously paranoid, fearful, and hateful people that makes up their viewership.

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      This!! I would like to see this a little bit fleshed out. As it stands, I can’t factually say this is more than cherrypicking. However, if we could see, perhaps, how often these techniques are used in the average report compared to other news sources, THAT would be something worth noting! You’ve got a great start here, just by qualifying these phrases, now GO GO GO! Quantify the data, make the comparisons, take it home!

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      It would indeed be nice to see a methodology section, but it is not at all hard to find a major study (usually several) supporting the underlying neuroscience and/or media content that is used to make each of Heather’s points. Concepts such as as confirmation bias have been demonstrated by numerous studies since the 1960s, and are pretty much just accepted among those studying political psychology (as I have done). Not that they are accepted simply because a prof says to accept them, mind you, but because the classic studies are well-constructed with solid methodologies, and stay accurate after periodic follow-ups and more longitudinal studies.

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      I have some really simmilar experiences from working in biology and statistics. It is horrifyingly easy to make a figure that looks compelling, but contains no actual information.

      I absolutely recommend you read ‘proofiness’ as it’s a book written entirely to deconstructing the mechanics and assumptions behind misleading figures.

      While it might not tell you anything new, it give you a bound paper object to throw at people you want to educate on this that won’t stand still long enough for the lecture.

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    Just wanted to say that this is amazing journalism. Clear, concise, and informative.

    Thank you for putting this together. The use of infographics was purposeful and very telling.

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    One thing I find really odd is that most restaurants, waiting rooms and airports in America that have televisions on are showing FoxNews, and just looking at the screen makes me so ragey I can’t go on. But it’s also frightening in terms of how many moderate humans are being regularly exposed to this stuff even if they don’t elect to watch it at home.

    Another thing I’ve noticed they like to do is find one or two token members of a given minority who agree with their views and uphold them as absolute proof that their insistence on things like the existence of reverse racism is totally valid. It’s really ridiculous, as sample sizes go, and it makes me feel powerless, if all they need is ONE example then we are all fucked! There is pretty much one example of anything, ever.

    I think it’s the reverse racism beliefs that make me the most crazy-feeling when I’ve been subjected to Fox News. Lately the black-on-black crime thing has been driving me nuts — most gun homicides happen amongst people who know each other, and because of how segregated our society is, that means most killings are happening intra-racially. But nobody wants to talk about white-on-white crime! So.

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    Yuck.In my opinion, cable news is awful in general, often depressing and more or less on par with tabloid magazines in terms of content. This reminds me of why I don’t watch any of it, ever. Why waste your time in that when Syfy is showing Sharknado 2?

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    HEATHER THIS IS SO GREAT. YOU ARE SO GREAT. <3

    I have tried to explain this to oh so so many folks. I even wrote a paper in college similar to this article. Folks who religiously watch Fox, because of many of the tactics you mentioned, won't listen to anyone's opinions about Fox (and it's lack of actual news) unless that person is straight, white, & conservative. Vicious cycle indeed.

    About a month ago, I was working in place where Fox was on (I hadn't witnessed any cable tv all year). At first the commercials were making me sick (part of the reason I stopped watching cable tv years ago), but then the "news" came on and I had to just up and leave. I don't completely remember the topic, something about white folks or Christians under attack. The sickening, insidious part was that the rhetoric & imagery used in the program paralleled/invoked the Holocaust–you know, where millions of people actually died because of their culture/ethnicity/religion.

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    I have recently lost an uncle to Fox news, and fear my cousins will soon follow. Reading this enraged me beyond belief, I cannot imagine how researching this for a year must have made you feel! Thank you for putting in so much time and effort, this needed to happen.

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    THANK YOU. This work is amazing.

    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

    Just replaced State for FoxNews.

    “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”

    “It would not be impossible to prove with sufficient repetition and a psychological understanding of the people concerned that a square is in fact a circle. They are mere words, and words can be molded until they clothe ideas and disguise.”

    It’s very frightening that these quotes can easily defined how FoxNews works. The frightening part is that these lines belong to one disgusting piece of shit: Joseph Goebbels.

    I’m sorry for quoting him, but FoxNews always brings ideas of nazi propaganda to my mind and it makes me feel so disappointed and angry at the XXI Century human race.

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      You talk about weak-minded people, now I have seen a classic example. This article is just a conglomeration of useless desiderata. Let’s all just go watch NBC. Their motto is”it never happened.”

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    This was so fantastic. We all know that they’re using propaganda and bias to create their brand of “news” and appeal to their viewership, but to have the deception so intricately unpacked and examined….very impressive.

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    Woah, this is really, really impressive. Heather, you really outdid yourself. When I was younger I used to watch fox news for fun, because i could laugh at all the obvious lies that they were spewing, but a few years ago, when their racist rhetoric around Obama, immigrants and all the black lives taken by police it got far too depressing and disgusting to watch anymore.

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    1. Thank you Heather for writing down all of my vague Fox feelings in well-researched detail!

    2. I don’t quite understand Fox’s stance on Trump. As you say, he is simply making explicit their coded messages. But their mods gave him a hard time at the Republican debate. Why do they not love him? Is it because he’s messing with their established order? Because they like to keeled their coded messages coded? Or what?

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      Not just to keep coded messages coded but to maintain elected officials who toe the same line and follow it by voting accordingly. They want elected officials who speak the same messages with the same words; they want elected officials to reinforce Fox’s baloney-speak verbiage so there’s 360 degree circular reinforcement of “good” and “right”.

      Fox created The Tea Party (by following every event FreedomWorks created as a grass-roots movement [they weren’t ever a grass-roots anything]) and now Trump has taken Fox’s carefully crafted psychopathy (the Tea Party mindset) and became their Dr. Frankenstein’s monster…they can’t control Trump and he’s ruining 20 plus years of careful brainwashing. Trump is undoing their life’s work.

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    holy damn this is SO good!

    (I already tried to comment this but I got an error message so I’m commenting again. But if I’m missing something and the original one does show up it’s totally okay, I could comment on here six thousand times and it wouldn’t be enough to express just how good this is)

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    This was wonderfully researched and presented, thank you. I’m usually soothed by displays of the logical and intellectually brave, but I am seriously so fucking scared about this election. Like, truly terrified. Trump? Cruz? I just don’t understand how we got here. I prayed to God that Mitt Romney wouldn’t win the last election, and I am way more scared this time. And I’m an atheist, so that’s..you know..not typical of me.

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      Whenever you can, refer to this media as “far-right”, not “conservative”. We have to counter the notion that this media is only just “conservative”. We must fight back. This is a start.

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    Does USA not have their version of OFCOM? It’s the regulatory body for media in the UK and requires news to not deliberately mislead and to be unbiased. Of course we have similar problems of biased reporting and such, but in general it keeps bald lies out of the news and keeps a lid on deliberately inflammatory hate speech. (Muslims killed us on 9-11 for example would definitely garner a host of complaints.)

    The Daily Mail publishes some disgusting commentary, but I don’t think they’re ever claimed that JEsus was white.

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      The Federal Communications Commission in the USA regulates broadcast television and radio. They have strict controls on “decency” but they don’t regulate much else about TV. There used to be a rule that news had to report controversial issues in a “balanced” way, but they ended that in 1987 believing it violated free speech rights. The only rule that’s still around is that radio and broadcast channels have to give equal time to political candidates running for the same office.

      The regulation that we do have in the USA is only because there are a limited number of radio and TV frequencies, so they’re considered a kind of monopoly. Cable TV, newspapers, etc. aren’t subject to government interference in what they publish, except for things that are considered “obscene” (obscenity is poorly defined and a huge loophole to free speech rights, though at least in the USA you can’t outlaw depictions of specific sex things like you have in the UK).

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      No, we don’t. We used to have something called the “Fairness Doctrine,” which required broadcast media outlets to give equal time to people who were criticized on air, and to diverse opinions. Ronald Reagan got rid of that. This article shows the result.

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    Right! this is finally the time, when facts will finally convince those republicans!… oh wait… no, they don’t read? none of them will see this or care? *sigh* it’s almost as if everything in your article was true 😛

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      Hey, I don’t mean to be a bunch of sour grapes – I mean, I’m not even American myself – but, can we avoid making comments of this nature? I think they’re pretty ableist. People believe terrible things because there are ideological apparatuses in place constantly trying to convince them to believe terrible things, not because they are ‘stupid’ or can’t read or have a disability which makes reading difficult.

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      Don’t read? Seriously? Yes we do read and scrolling down I have noticed not One note is opposing her opinion. Why do you think that is? Maybe because the propaganda machine works both ways… I have read both views and I have discovered that you have to research every angle. I am not promoting any news organization I believe they are all equally biased and you have to look dealer for the Truth and former your own opinion. Period

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    Thank you SO MUCH for putting this together. The hard work you did really pays off- I am amazed and absolutely terrified. You’ve made tangible what we already thought might be true and have armed us with what we need to at least try to protect our friends and family. Hats off to you, Heather.

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    Brilliant work. We all know Fox is factually-incorrect and biased, but you really broke down the cycle of brainwashing in concrete terms and concepts. I couldn’t help but compare it to the ways in which abusers use isolation and confusion to control their partners.

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    Fox News program called “Red Eye” uses a technique called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) first developed by the Military to help returning Vietnam soldiers reintroduce into society. The technique helps change “bad” memories into ” good” ones. (Or in Fox’s case—-the reverse) The background screens on their shows are constantly moving. The typical Red Eye screen might show a black liquid slowly covering up a red background,sometimes including emotional items such as a red colored Cross, as the commentator talks hatred of Obama. These hate-filled modified background screens are shown on shows aired just before highly emotional days such as July 4th, Memorial Day, Election Day, etc, instilling fear, and hatred in their viewers minds. THIS IS WHY THERE ARE “RANDOM” VIOLENT ATTACKS ON OUR SOCIETY OCCURING A FEW DAYS AFTER THESE HOLIDAYS. Fox pushes fragile, hate-filled minds over the edge with this technique. One year it is school attacks, this year it is cop killing. Always done by fragile, hate-filled minds, pushed by Fox into violence. On society is being destroyed by these subliminal messages

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    This is just amazing and helps connects so many dots to the covertness of anti-Black white supremacy that is so invasive in networks like Fox News. Good work Heather and I am going to upset so many people with this *evil laughter* but seriously this is just a great resources to help others articulate what is wrong, very wrong with Fox News.

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      Yes they do use similar techniques, but your comment gets it wrong on the orders of magnitude to which it happens. This is a common logical fallacy, especially in political arenas known as false equivalency: “A common way for this fallacy to be perpetuated is one shared trait between two subjects is assumed to show equivalence, especially in order of magnitude, when equivalence is not necessarily the logical result. False equivalence is a common result when an anecdotal similarity is pointed out as equal, but the claim of equivalence doesn’t bear because the similarity is based on oversimplification or ignorance of additional factors. The pattern of the fallacy is often as such: “If A is the set of c and d, and B is the set of d and e, then since they both contain d, A and B are equal”. d is not required to exist in both sets; only a passing similarity is required to cause this fallacy to be able to be used.”

      While there is a bit more than a “passing similarity” the orders of magnitude to which this propaganda is put out by both parties through the news is far off.

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    Research, articles, and news items no matter how much the author professes it to be objective, is going to be biased and will suffer from confirmation bias. It starts from how you choose to structure your narrative, to how you choose your headline to where you decide to place it. And I think it is okay, we are humans after all. The thing to do is to be aware of the fact and seek out alternative sources (peer reviewed studies as the geologist upthread (Liz) said). 🙂

    However, Fox News, from what I read here and have seen on the “liberal” media (I have never had the pleasure to actually view it) seems a bit extreme even for that; it looks to be more intentional than unintentional bias. What self-respecting news channel would want to do that? Even stranger that viewers don’t seek our alternate stories despite the channel’s conditioning. One would think the very nature of the beast is that no one channel or one view point would get it right.

    Also, how strange that a news channel would put so much importance on being a Christian. Being a Christian is hardly a truth of life.

    PS: I don’t follow any right-wing Indian newspapers, but probably we have them here too. We do have media propaganda machines that almost equate filmstars to gods, so. 😉

    and it must’ve been hard to lose folks you love to such propaganda. I am sorry to hear that you did.

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      Where you liberals get confused is that Fox News often has open commentary programs. In other words, they are not meant to be The News. You confuse Hannity, O’Reilly, even Kelley File to some extent are purposefully “commentary programs”

      But their news, Happening Now, Sherperd Smith’s, several others are just unbiased news.
      FNC calls out deceitful Wes from networks when it happens. How about NBC purposefully editing the Zimmerman 911 call, to make it sound racist, they got caught. Apologized, and moved on. Check t out. There are many, many examples of this……THAT is what the liberals hate.
      There are many, openly liberal democrats, on FNC as regulars, Beckel, Williams, Tamar, Geraldo, n and on. I don’t see that balance, at least an attempt, on any networks or CNN or MSNBC.
      Liberal are intolerant—-haha

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        Your use of the phrase “you liberals” to denote some nebulous group of “others” is one of the very things mentioned in this article. It’s a bright red sign saying “I’ve bought into the Fox News narrative.” I’ve got news for you: there is no concerted liberal elite. We’re all just people with our own experiences and opinions. Anyway, no one has ever said or claimed that the mainstream media is free from bias and mistakes, but neither does this have any bearing on the systematic brainwashing and misinformation that happens on Fox News.

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          Simply put, Fox News commentators are paid to lean heavily to the right while most news style commentators on any other station are paid for their opinion/commentary. Fox and their puppet masters WANT their followers to think that anyone who isn’t conservative is a liberal. The truth is that most people fall into the huge gray area in the middle. Studies have shown over and over again that more intelligent people lean left while dummies lean hard right. It’s simple (pun intended) really; conservatism requires much less thought and is therefore easier for someone who is lacking in intelligence to grasp.

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    It’s a very interesting article so far, but one note before I forget: nobody was protesting the Vietnam War in the run-up to the 1960 presidential election, so it’s pretty doubtful that Nixon was targeting war protesters. I believe the other groups you cite are correct, however. But our involvement in Vietnam didn’t get serious until 1961 or so, and the first real protests were in 1962. According to Wikipedia, at any rate. I wasn’t born yet. 😉

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    My minds made up, don’t confuse me with the facts! First I learned today hat a meteorite 2 and 1/2 miles wide is gonna clean our clocks on September 28th. Then Will Smith is a Muslim. Now I can’t watch Fox News anymore? It’s the end of the world!

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    As someone who doesn’t like Conservatives or Nixon I feel like pointing out that Nixon was in no way a conservative.

    Fox panders to the “Right” and the other pander to the “Left”. It all props up the fraudulent two party system while the Bushes and Clintons play gulf together.

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    This is a good read. If you read it you will understand why people watch Fox instead of listening to the propaganda on the other news sources. She calls Zimmerman murderer , which is a lie. Fox did not jump on the Wilson was a racist murderer narrative. After that facts came out and even an FBI investigation Wilson’s actions were justified and the “hands up don’t shoot” was a lie. Let’s not forget the police tape editing by NBC to make Zimmerman look racist. I love it when someone thinks they are making Fox look bad and instead prove their own favorite news sources defects and bias. Nice job Heather…..you’ve succeeded in doing exactly what you are accusing Fox of doing.

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    This is the funniest thing I have seen in a long time. “watched helplessly as people they love have become part of the conservative punditry herd and, over time, traded their compassion for paranoia; their thoughtful opinions for manufactured outrage; and their empathy for hateful rhetoric.”

    That’s called gaining wisdom, and people have generally become more conservative as they grow older, but I guess you crazy liberals who think the world runs on unicorn tears, would call it “brainwashing.”

    Thanks for writing this article. I’m am now dumber for reading it.

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      No, people DO NOT naturally become more conservative as they get older. That is a myth. As to what Fox does. It is premeditated and was part of their plan from the start. The foreigner, Rupert Murdoch, never set out to make a news network. He was very clear about this. What he set out to do is create a platform for his extreme right-wing views. A ‘news’ station that lies 82% of time is obviously not a news station it is a distribution center for propaganda and you are one of the brainwashed.

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      I agree whole heartedly. Most comments about this is from liberals who, many will become more conservative as they age and find Liberalism takes everything you have. It is happening to me.

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        I wonder what age that is. I’m 56 and see Fox’s bullshit a mile away. Perhaps I’m not old enough to yet, right?

        It’s sadder even when Fox appeals to older populations when they (Fox and Republicans) want nothing more than to do away with Medicare and Social Security.

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      If you’re brain is unable to process the information in this article, Jeff, then you were probably too dumb to begin with. The idea that your lack of intelligence was caused by reading facts is humorously inaccurate, sorry :/

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    Equally discouraging is the effect Fox has had on the left, where many have accepted their portrayals of Obama as weak and hapless and Clinton as calculating and dishonest. We’re all drinking out of the same bowl, just some more than others.

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    For the longest time it was thought that Roger Ailes propaganda project was as effective as it was evil and that it posed a long term threat to progressivism that couldn’t be easily addressed. And for a time it did, but slowly the arc of the universe asserted itself and it came to be that Fox damaged the conservative primary process most of all and effectively created a situation where conservative primary voters are the only ones that fall for the Foxnews parade of propaganda. The end result is that anyone who can possibly make it through the Foxgop primary process has to spout demonstrably stupid nonsense that inevitably humiliates them in the general election. This presidential election cycle the conservatives have zero chance and the real debate is whether Hillary will have a super majority. You can write your thank you letters to Roger Ailes, he’s the one that created a monster that in the end mostly devoured his own. He’s the ultimate democratic mole, his handiwork has made it so the GOP presidential candidate has won the popular vote *once* since 1988. There’s no ruse or trick or strategy the left could ever come up with that would have been this brutally effective. And this cycle especially, there’s nothing for liberals to do but laugh and eat popcorn. Trump has zero chance, Carson has zero chance, Cruz has zero chance. His enterprise is eating American conservatism alive before our very eyes for our amusement. How does the GOP, in the long run, wrestle itself away from Fox? I’m not even sure they can.

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      Patrick, with respect, I hear you – but think you might be getting “correlation and causation” mixed up with “motivation and intention.” Fox is about making money from the business of stupidity consumption. Sadly, their business model has been kicking ass for too long in the new American that Reagan built.

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      The problem comes into downstream elections. It’s unlikely we’ll see a GOP president anytime soon as the GOP continues nationally into a southern, white and very regional party, but their (Fox’s) continuous Dem Bad, GOP Good brand of brainwashing has huge implications locally and at state levels.

      Also, something Fox never mentions about all those Takers is that they’re white, conservative states sucking up the funds because democrats don’t begrudge people in need, even those who want to cut off their own noses to spite their own faces.

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    This is very informative and well put together! It seems that Faux Noise appeals to a certain type of people who are alarmingly similar to the type that the Nazi movement appealed to in the 30’s. Across the board, I’ve found that most of the people I’ve had interaction with throughout my life who have struggled with school and or understanding of basic concepts have been drawn to the “Conservative” movement. The neocon puppet masters have also managed to create a conservative = masculine vs. liberal = feminine association.

    The puppet masters are as clever as they are evil and the stupid are easy prey for them.

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    I believe Roger Ailes was in fact Nixon’s “media guy” and convinced Milton to do televised debates. The
    straight line between Nixonian demonization of liberal elites and Fox News tactics is very bold, Ailes is it.
    Great article.

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    And what it all comes down to is this: it is no longer just rhetoric, it is scientifically proven fact that conservatives are less intelligent than more progressive thinking people…

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2095549/Right-wingers-intelligent-left-wingers-says-controversial-study–conservative-politics-lead-people-racist.html

    Conservatives have difficulty with thinking outside their own little boxes, and with concepts that are more complex than simple black and white. They will blindly swallow anything that serves their ideology and mindlessly reject anything that doesn’t. For conservatives, it’s ideology over facts, science, knowledge, common sense and logic, every single time. That’s why Fox News is so popular, it spouts simplistic, black and white ideology to conservatives who mindlessly swallow it like a $9 hooker.

    Fox News could say, in the middle of the day, that ‘it’s night time, because Obama and liberals suck’, and the docile sheep watching it will say ‘Yeah, they’re so right’.

    And it’s just so sad.

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    Good research on methods which are used to indoctrinate ignorant people. Also, the use of some of these methods in writing this article instead of using facts properly gives support to the assertion that liberal writers opinions are determined by the Democratic Party narrative instead of logic

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    Thank you for this article. It highlights the necessity of getting news from as many different non-affiliated news organizations as possible. Only then can one hopefully have a balanced world view without prejudice and bias.

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    The big problem is you wrote this article but basically everything you said was biased. You are a great example of delusion on the media. You say Fox new create dichotomies and enemies with their rhetoric by pointing out that all republicans were against equal rights for women and civil rights for black people. Which can is untrue. Then you say it scared white people, creating two distinct groups. You are a joke. Your information about climate change is quoted FROM A CLIMATE CHANGE PROPONENT. I agree climate change is happening, but if you want to make a case for doc news bias you shouldn’t use a liberal source. That is like using the NFL’s conclusion statistics.

    Generally everything you said was somewhat true, but you fail to understand in the very writing of this article you did exactly what you claim to abhor from Fox News. Your bias is so evident that I hope you consider this an opinion piece as your journalistic integrity is seriously skewed in any other case.

    And you do understand you only wrote his Arielle to pander to the over commenters. It’s really amazing how any objective reading of this piece would show those flaws but your uninformed and unaware target audience just wants to eat this up.

    Both sides are at fault and if you have a brain you will understand that it is this type of I’m right you are wrong reporting that it is here in the first place.

    Base. Average work. If you were in my class I would give you a C- for content and a B for organization. You. Can do better and I hope you do.

    Don’t believe it just because it is in your belief system. Believe because you have objective facts. You do not in this case.

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    Excellent summation of the problem, thanks. This does what Media Matters founder David Brock’s book “Blinded by the Right” does but here we don’t have to read the whole book. (You also miss all the great stories about snorting coke with Ann Coulter…)

    It’s important to also mention that the distortion/manipulation strategies of Fox were perfected and weaponized by Limbaugh, who has been operating this way for 30 years, and continues to this day. He is the “wind beneath their wings.”

    Thanks Again!

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    I’m grateful that Heather (the author of this diatribe) was able to type out TWO sentences of unbiased facts…the first two sentences of the article. From that point on, poor Heather kicked her biases into high gear and lost all credibility.
    Case in point: “everyone I know has lost a friend or family member or mentor to Fox New.” LOST a friend? Really? Who in the world talks like that? And who bases their friendships on another’s choice of TV channels? Apparently Heather does.
    And her former friends, by virtue of watching Fox News have “traded their compassion for paranoia” and “their empathy for hateful rhetoric”!! Seems to me Heather has an unhealthy dose of hatred and paranoia herself.
    So it’s not a bit surprising that what follows in her “research” is a tad bit biased, one sided, overblown and downright silly at times.
    Let’s be truthful: ALL media outlets have a bias of one kind or another. After all, they are all run by fallible human beings. And to paint ONE news outlet as evil incarnate is to be naive at best and totally blinded at worst. Heather seems to be in the later group.
    But hey, that doesn’t mean that Heather and I can’t be friends…at least from my perspective. I don’t consider her “lost” to liberal media bias, nor would I want to sever a friendship over her paranoia about all things Fox News. How about we all get along…even with our differences of opinions and our news sources?!

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      I did not get any feeling of hate or paranoia from this writing. However, I would suspect a Faux news watcher/advocate would never understand unbiased reporting if it slapped him/her in the face.

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      Gee Bill, ya think the other news networks aren’t out for ratings? You really think CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, CNN, etc. etc. merely “inform”? If so, it’s time to get your head out of the sand.

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    Heather…you’ve left your own blog out of the propaganda cycle somehow. Oh, right! You’re talking about FOX, not Media Matters, MSNBC, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, New York Times, Washington Post or any other left wing disinformation outlet, many of which have actually been CAUGHT fabricating alternate realities and regularly report biased news absent any historical context. Silly me! Media Matters, for instance, regularly misquotes – deliberately – right wing talk show hosts in order to generate negative media against them – which those left wing news outlets then loyally disseminate without bothering to fact check, despite those shows now make transcripts available which would allow the quote to be put in correct context or, in fact, revealed to be something other than what Media Matters claims. I’ve heard these stories with first hand knowledge of the event they try to distort which is how I know THEY lie. Yet here you take them at face value? Not a good policy if you’re interested in the truth. But are you? There’s the question, isn’t it?

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    Heather – nice piece of work. Would be great to show how these techniques have been used by dictators/authoritarians in the past or present but avoid the obvious Nazi choice since the discussion would shift to how you have victimized them (Fox).

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    This was a great article that just enraged me about the influence FOX Noise has on people. I truly believe that FOX Noise is the worst thing to happen to this country in my lifetime and wish the FCC would shut it down. I truly believe it does great harm brainwashing and manipulating people to vote against their own economic interests.

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      The creation of Fox News and the Right-wing hate media was made possible by Reagan’s repeal of the Constitutionally upheld Fairness Doctrine. The Fairness Doctrine assured that news media had to be truthful and give an even representation of the issues. It was ruled Constitutional by the Supreme Court in 1969 and repealed against public and legislative outcry in 1987 by Ronald Reagan. In it’s place ‘Infotainment’ has taken over the majority of corporate news while the foreigner, Rupert Murdoch has a created a propaganda distribution center for his extreme right-wing ideology. Go to Bring Back the Fairness Doctrine to sign the petition!!! https://www.facebook.com/BringBackTheFairnessDoctrine/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

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    Many of those who watch Fox News exclusively or primarily seem to be fixated on the idea that “political correctness” has ruined our country. It is time for the rest of us to agree with them and say what needs to be said. We must no longer be politically correct in public about Fox News viewers. The truth must be told. Fox News viewers are naive and ignorant, and they are ruining the democratic process of this nation for future generations. Political correctness be damned.

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        So Bob, what exactly is a liberal? According to Webster: a liberal one who is open-minded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional, or established forms or ways capitalized. Doesn’t sound so bad. Conservative: a person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes, typically in relation to politics. Soooo, this article makes sense.

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    This can only be expected from a so called “NEWS” outlet, that is owned by Rupert Murdoch, the very same Mr. Murdoch who in the UK, was FORCED to close down one of his largest circulating “newspapers” called The News Of The World, When it was discovered to be involved in criminal acts such as hacking voice mails of cell phones. Not only of private citizens, including a child murder victim, but also leading politicians, and in the process bribery and corruption of metropolitan police officers. He was also BANNED legally from having any involvement in any other publications in the UK, and his son took over ALL his other CEO duties in other “newspapers”. They still carry on in the same manner as “Fox News”, with divisive rhetoric, scapegoating those they see fit, be it immigrants, or the unemployed the sick or disabled, depending on which Conservative (read republican) politician, they wish to cosy up to at the time. They are currently lobbying the Conservative government to break up the BBC services, in order that those services will then be privatised and sold to the highest bidder. Presumably in order to repeat their “success” they think they have achieved with “FOX” or as most of my American friends call it “Faux”.

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    When I read the headline to this article after viewing the chart my first thought was that the wrong headline was accidentally put on this because by viewing the chart it is a perfect depiction of a liberals views and way of thinking 🙂

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      According to Webster: a liberal one who is open-minded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional, or established forms or ways capitalized. Doesn’t sound so bad. Conservative: a person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes, typically in relation to politics. Soooo, this article makes sense.

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    This article is just too funny. Too bad they are serious. I’ve never witnessed such journalistic smoke and mirrors. All the bar graphics and pie divisions, not to mention the insults to their very own friends, neighbors “aunts and uncles”.
    They are saying all those FNC watchers are tricked into watching the programs.
    Sour grapes liberals.
    It is absolutely undeniable that all networks, joined by CNN, MSNBC are left leaning ideologically. And that’s ok, I guess.
    FNC is absolutely right leaning ideologically. No question. The issue is, the liberals, the laughable group of “tolerance” cannot stand that a right leaning channel even exists, let alone dominates the airwaves. It drives them crazy.
    Tolerance as long as long as you stay in line with them ideologically. Perfect example, black candidates that are conservative or women that are conservative. To the tolerant liberals, this is unacceptable!! Name one black republican that hasn’t been victim to the liberal press’ raking over the coals. Every conservative woman gets raked over the coals.
    Herman Cain, Sarah Palin, condi Rice, Justice Thomas, many, many more.
    This is not tolerated. Unacceptable for women and African American persons to not be lock step in the liberal marching formation.
    Hocus Pocus reporting. I dare you to do “man on the street” interviews with conservative vs liberal (ESP at any college) testing current events—-the Right will smoke ’em. No, lefties, not dubies, answers.

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    Great article! I’ve shared your story and a lot of your graphics. The creation of Fox News and the Right-wing hate media was made possible by Reagan’s repeal of the Constitutionally upheld Fairness Doctrine. The Fairness Doctrine assured that news media had to be truthful and present an even representation of the issues. It was ruled Constitutional by the Supreme Court in 1969 and repealed against public and legislative outcry in 1987 by Ronald Reagan. In it’s place ‘Infotainment’ has taken over the majority of corporate news while the foreigner, Rupert Murdoch has a created a propaganda distribution center for his extreme right-wing ideology. Go to Bring Back the Fairness Doctrine to sign the petition!!! https://www.facebook.com/BringBackTheFairnessDoctrine/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

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    Excellent article!!! Wish my husband would read it. He found Faux News about 6 years ago and was sucked in. He is obsessed with it and believes every word. He rarely watches anything else. I have tried everything to reason with him but he calls me a liberal that is trying to ruin the country. He was so convinced that Romney was going to win the last election, from listening to FN, that he went into shock and depression when Obama won. It makes me so sad!!

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      He should divorce you. You don’t approve of different opinions and since his isn’t the same as yours he’s wrong? Really…he has to drink the same coolaid as yours? Aren’t we allowed to have free thought. There is no “who’s wrong and who’s right” in a marriage when it comes to politics. If you think he’s crazy then leave him. He obviously doesn’t think you’re crazy but be careful how far you push him.

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    Still biased. I don’t believe your high handed attitude toward fox as anything more than trivial. And the alternative is CNN or MSNBC or PBS? Laughing out loudly. If you can’t listen between the lines and get the news then, well, you must be a liberal. I’ve worked in broadcast news. None are pure news. Its all as biased as this article. She’s a liberal and puts a graph out and all 167 of you believe that. What well did she go to for her information? I don’t believe this article any more than I believe obama cares about non- muslims or non-whitez! Have a very Merry Christmas. I hope I hurt your feelings!!!

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      Don’t worry your Fox ‘News’ apologist dogma and nonsensical ‘all media is liberal other than my beloved Fox that tells me exactly what I want to hear so I can hate properly’ comments are too typical and lacking in any insight to hurt anyone’s feelings. Some may pity you, though, so you got that going for you… which is nice…

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    I’ve never seen so many straight guys having opinions on an autostraddle post! Except for that one about Kristen Stewart and her girlfriend maybe breaking up. So, from what I can see, straight guys like defending unwatchable TV and insisting Kristen Stewart wasn’t dating a woman. Straight guys are weird, y’all.

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      This article got linked a few times from Reddit so you’ll see a lot more comments soon. But c’mon…most of us who read this thought the author did an excellent job of breaking down the psychology of FN and said so in the comments. I don’t want to speak for most straight men, but I can firmly tell you that I have no idea who Kristen Stewart is (a Google search reinforced why I don’t know who she is), and I thought this article was fantastic. Less than 1% of Americans watch Fox News on any given prime time evening, and only a dozen of them (and who knows how many are paid?) commented here as I write this. There’s “weird” people, as you say, in any large group.

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    Back in college, I took a class in deductive logic. We learned that an outcome that occurs at a consistent percentage over a large sampling can be the basis for a prediction of a future outcome. Conversely, you cannot take a single outcome or a small sampling and generalize that to a general application. However, this also seems to be a regularly used tool of Fox and the right. The example in the article that hit on this approach is “all terrorists are Muslim, so all Muslims must be terrorists”. Another I hear regularly is it’s snowing outside, so there can’t be global warming (thus the move to “climate change” as an alternative).

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    I appreciate this article, but think the editorializing undermines it’s value. For example, describing the Zimmerman/Martin existential debacle (oh gee, I just editorialized) as a “murder.” None of us where there, the “stand your ground” law wasn’t actually a factor and Zimmerman was acquitted. Why is it “some guy” put together a better analysis of the evidence of what happened that night than the entire consumer news media?

    http://www.dlas.org/questions-zimmerman-verdict/

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    Liking the article, a couple of typos to fix. “Assassination” is misspelled in first infographic as “Assasination”.

    Last paragraph under ‘Create Enemy’ has ” (“evil, untruthful, cooked, lazy, superstitious, barbaric”)” – pretty sure you meant ‘crooked’ not ‘cooked’, unless I’m unaware of that lingo. 😉

    First line under Flipping ” falsely accusing someone else of the doing/being the thing” – remove first ‘the’.

    First paragraph under Appeal to Fear has “G0d-fearing”.

    First +example under Misinformation ” falsely accusing someone else of the doing/being the thing” – remove ‘is’.

    First paragraph under Confuse “It’s talking around an idea with willful ambiguousness for the purpose of obscuring facts.” – ‘ambiguity’ not ‘ambiguousness’.

    First paragraph under +examples under Rewrite History “Fox News not only fosters a culture of terror and hate; it also purposefully contributes to the destruction of the literal planet.” – no idea why the word ‘literal’ is used to describe the planet. Perhaps ‘literal destruction’?

    Again, very good article – thank you for your hard work!

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      It’s ‘too’ much, not ‘to’ much. Also this ‘drinking the Koolaid’ saying that you right-wingers love so much is a horrible reference. First, it applies to a mass suicide of a bunch of FUNDAMENTALIST CHRISTIANS many of whom followed one TOTALITARIAN leader blindly and uncritically. So it doesn’t apply at all to people who are doing CRITICAL THINKING, ANALYSIS and sharing their results. Get it? It also is a reference to a mass murder, as well, because a number of Jim Jones’ fundamentalist Christian followers held men, women and children at at GUN POINT and forced them to drink the poison. So it doesn’t apply to any liberal way of thinking and if anything embodies everything that is wrong with the American right-wing extremist movement that currently threatens our democracy.

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    Awesome article and get job on the sourcing!

    I got into politics after 9/11 and I have always advocated how fox news spreads lies, fear and hate! This was a vreat read.

    Thank you for your great work!

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    Great article!

    If this article interests you, check out our feature-length documentary on the same topic entitled, “The Brainwashing of My Dad”. The film covers some of the same techniques used by right-wing media, like Fox news, and how to combat it.

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      Getting people to realize they’ve been brainwashed is extremely difficult. Losing family members to hate (for the sake of hating-nothing more) is heartbreaking.

      I’ve heard people talk about their mother or father in that way. Once loving parents brainwashed to the point that their own adult children don’t want to be in their presence even for brief periods (holidays) because those parents are angry and hate filled. My parents are both deceased and the thought of people losing their parents to this propaganda isn’t just heartbreaking, it’s tragic.

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    I’d like to suggest adding another sub-branch to your tree (or another egg to the basket). I’m not sure where it belongs on your egg compass graphic, but perhaps on the Western F.A.R. side?

    Following creating an alternate reality, the Fox people have created an alternate tongue. It’s a tongue that is spoken in English, but words are mashed, squished, prettied up, diced and sliced all with the end goal of playing into the listener like one of those pianolas. The punched sheet music that is fed in are the hyper manipulated words Fox people use. The music that comes out are the false beliefs held by those who watch.

    It’s not an “inheritance tax” is a “death tax” (cue the somber organ music). It’s not global warming! It’s the more gentle sounding Climate Change because change is constant and doesn’t HAVE come from outside sources. Jobs aren’t lost (kids lose mittens all the time, and that is so benign sounding). Jobs are *CRUSHED*.

    All of these lipstick-on-a-pig words are heavily focus group tested to ensure proper effect on the listener. Take the worst words that have the greatest effect on people, and chisel away at people’s resistance using this hailstorm of word lies.

    It’s quite effective. Mix that with the very organized talking points which no doubt get text blasted to all right wing personalities and politicians, and a very unified front is presented that has the greatest effect.

    Thanks for your great efforts at making sense of these devious machinations. I’d love to see a crowd sourced mashup that pulls together, organizes and uncovers these bunch of liars who are destroying this country and rational thought.

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    This is awesome and I’m so glad its getting circulated!I totally did a binder/zine project on this last semester talking about propaganda techniques and manipulating the totality of information. I tried to get my project back to my teacher, and he has not returned my emails and so another teacher gave me access to the old projects pile, and it was not there… so its gone…

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      It must’ve been good! I had a college teacher steal my work before and publish it as his own. I was more flattered than anything at the time but now that I think of it, it was pretty slimy…

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    I’d have to wonder what the goal of Fox News is to brainwash its viewers and reduce their thought capacity. Is it money? Is that what it’s always about? And possibly influencing other circles to keep certain people in power that prompt what Fox News should report next to elicit?

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    To fight against the control of corporate news media and the 6 (yes, only 6) corporations whose interests they represent, go to ‘Bring Back the Fairness Doctrine’ on Facebook and sign the petition. The Fairness Doctrine was law of the land for 37 years and provided guidelines to prevent news media from being turned into propaganda. The news is supposed to be there to create a better informed citizen, not to rabble rouse or be shallow infotainment.
    https://www.facebook.com/BringBackTheFairnessDoctrine/?fref=ts

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      I agree with the spirit of your statement but first we have to get money out of politics. So long as our political system is owned by the corporate elite then the politicians will not be able to do for us what we want them to do for us, and that’s assuming they want to.

      I think of Fox News as a sledgehammer designed by a 1%er (Rupert Murdoch) to distort the political landscape of ‘merica; The goal is and always has been to make it easier for the 1%ers to buy politicians a manipulate the system in their favor. It keeps hammering away at American society, destroying the fabric of democracy in the process. Until that is undone I can petition the government all you want but it will get me nowhere fast.

      The 1%ers owe no allegiance to any country; Their banks and their corporations are multinational, they can take their money anywhere they want. They don’t much care if they are destroying American democracy just so long as they can make money in the process. While the 1%ers own your political system what chance do you have?

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    This entire article is based on the typical format of all liberal based media outlets. You ignore what goes on in the world if it does not fit into your criteria of what people should believe by your standards of journalism, much like Rush Limbaugh who only tells half the story. The conclusions you came to would fit any news outlet out there. I see it as another way to control the masses so only the politically correct views are relevant and news worthy. Obviously, those who follow you are in lockstep
    With your views. This smearing tactic of Fox is just another way to nullify them.

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    I lost my father to Faux News 10 years ago. Since then, several of my friends and family have similarly passed on. As your article so clearly points out, the people who succumb to this illness are those who have decided to stop thinking for themselves and instead have some other entity process information and tell them what to think.Your article is brilliant, Heather, and so are you. Unfortunately, it is well-researched, cogent, and logical, and as such it flies in the face of the pre-masticated falsehoods that Fox is mama-birding down her little nestlings’ throats. To that end, it will not penetrate the very minds it needs to save. Little white baby jesus help us all.

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