February 2019 - The News · The News

The News – Week Two – Fox News

It’s been a long week here in the Fox News world. I went from no news at all to only Fox News and I feel like I’m in an alternate reality.

In order to get into the right mindset, I started this week by reading a biography on Roger Ailes, the man who created the empire that is today Fox News. The book is called “The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News-and Divided a Country” by Gabriel Sherman. What I found most fascinating about the entire thing was how Fox News developed. When it came on the air in 1996, its original purpose was just to defeat CNN and ABC in ratings when it premiered.

Then Bill Clinton happened. Ratings went through the roof with the Lewinsky scandal, but once that was over they were left with a hole to fill and a drop in ratings that only 9/11 could fill.

You know that constant crawl that runs at the bottom of the news screen? Roger Ailes invented that on 9/11 and it only took three weeks for all the other networks to follow suit. To say Fox News isn’t innovative and a genius media machine would be a lie. It’s a masterpiece. It took Fox a half hour after the second tower got hit to throw up a massive banner on screen that read “TERRORISM HITS AMERICA.” They found their angle for the next seven years until Bush was ousted.

When the wars in the middle east started to go nowhere, ratings fell again. During the Obama vs McCain election of 2008, Ailes and producers were PRAYING Obama would win. It was ratings GOLD. The Tea Party wouldn’t even have become that big of a thing without Fox News giving it coverage. Bill Sammon, a Fox News managing editor and vice president, said during a speech at a private event, that in the closing days of 2008 election he pushed screen time claiming Obama was a socialist. During the speech he admitted it was a notion he privately found ‘far-fetched’. But what did it matter if it was true or not? People ATE IT UP. They’re doing this now with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC).

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Human Garbage #1, Sean Hannity

The most despicable thing Fox News did though was hire Sean Hannity. In 1998 before he worked at Fox he was working in small time radio in southern California and invited the virulent anti-gay activist Gene Antonio on the air to promote his already widely discredited book “ The AIDS cover up? The Real and alarming facts about AIDS”. Antonio was a Lutheran minister without scientific training who peddled paranoid fictions about the epidemic. He wrote that the virus could be transmitted by sneezes and mosquito bites. WTF. Hannity said on air, “I’m sick and tired of the media and the homosexual community preventing us from getting the true accurate information about AIDS.” Hannity had this dude on and the station fired him (as they should have) and he just went straight over to Atlanta to work in radio again. His bio on the Atlanta station’s site said he was the guy who made a proud name for himself by insulting lesbians. Then Fox HIRED HIM. If that doesn’t tell you what sort of morals were being peddled around I don’t know what does. Hannity has since apologized, but really….fuck him.

Then there’s the other personalities that have been on Fox. Bill O’Reilly and Glen Beck (believe it or not the most upstanding of these three, not that it’s saying much) were the two other big names. O’Reilly (since forced out for his own sexual harassment claims) understood TV was nothing more than a show. “Bill is one of the greatest bullshitters in the world, Ailes’ brother Robert has said. “He can talk about any subject and he can get the best out of his guest by taking the opposite point of view even if he doesn’t believe it.”

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Human Garbage #2, Roger Ailes

All of this information still doesn’t include the disgusting culture of harassment towards women that includes the now deceased Roger Ailes himself. Ailes got fired from Fox (FINALLY) after lawsuit after lawsuit became too much for the company to save face. He was once quoted as saying, “Tell Karen (Fox News anchor) I did not spend x-number of dollars on a glass desk for her to wear pant suits.” Yep.

For many Americans who aren’t Obama fans, the Obama they know, the one they are raging against still, is the one Ailes has played a large role in creating. Through Fox, Ailes helped polarize the American electorate drawing sharp ‘with-us or against-us’ lines, demonizing foes, preaching against compromise. Fox News normalized viciousness and conspiracy theories so much so that Fox is now mainstream. And now we are in the Trump era.

And I just read Fox News for a week. So there you have it.

Last week I said I was going to do a count of the number of times Fox New’s favorite people to hate were mentioned on the front page. Here is the result:

  • AOC – 14
  • Elizabeth Warren – 7
  • Nancy Pelosi – 4
  • Hillary Clinton – 2
Image result for aoc

According to Fox, AOC is the new Obama and Hillary combined. She is here to kill us all and destroy our way of life. She is radical, naive and wants to disrupt all our lives. Fox stated last week that essentially AOC has come up with a ‘Green Plan’ that is going to kill us all and any representative that supports it is trying to ruing your life.

My favorite fox news clip pulled from the videos portion of their site, outlining all the ways AOC is the worst….I don’t find any of the things on this list bad at all. It’s extremely confusing what point they’re trying to make here.

Here are some more Fox News headlines from last week:

  • Beto and Trump attended duel border wall rally’s and Trump’s rally ‘won’.
  • Representative Ilhan Omar said some Anti-Semitic things on twitter. I didn’t check what it was since it’s against my rules for the week, but it sounds like she was just retweeting something about lobbyists. Fox has been pretty vague about the specifics.
  • Trump got his annual check up and the news is that he’s fitter than any president ever.
  • AOC released her Green Deal and it includes helping those that are ‘unwilling to work’. She also apparently contradicts herself on the role of government in it, although it was not made clear in what way she does this. Union leaders also came out and said her deal will lead us all into poverty.
  • Kolbuchar announced her run for president and Trump made fun of her for standing the snow, proving that global warming is a hoax.
  • A top GOP representative demanded answers after Democrats hired an Anti-Trump investigator for a judiciary committee.
  • And finally, my favorite headline: Judge rules Manafort ‘Intentionally’ Lied to Mueller’s Team (I don’t understand why the word intentionally is in quotes here).

The real crime of Fox News though, is the comments section. Here a few that particularly irked me about Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke and
Ilhan Omar that make my blood boil:

Fox News comments are the worst of all human garbage so don’t go read them unless you want to have a good long freak out about humanity.

There was some nice stuff of Fox though that never would get picked up by another news outlet in a million years. For instance, here is a nice story about Trump and Melania sending a get well letter to a woman with a brain tumor. Now obviously she is a Trump supporter and obviously: good publicity. But the fact remains that this woman is going through a terrible time and this letter made her feel better. Nothing wrong with that.

One thing about reading only Fox News for a week is that there is almost zero world news that hits the front page. Two weeks ago when I stopped reading the news for a week Venezula was in the middle of a crisis. I have not heard or read ANYTHING about that since. It felt like pretty big news though and I cannot imagine it’s a situation that has already resolved itself. According the Fox News, the only thing that’s happening outside of the US is terrorism. Their world news section is atrocious.

We’ll have to wait one more week for world news though. Next post will be all about CNN, which is where I’m headed to now. I’m sure I will read all about how Trump will be impeached any day now.

Oh, America. You silly creature.

February 2019 - The News · The News

The News – Week One – No News

When I stopped reading, listening or watching the news at midnight on January 31 here were the headlines in my mind:

  • It’s freezing all over the United States except the west coast because of a polar vortex
  • Russia is using Mueller’s private case files to discredit the Russia Probe
  • Conservatives are mad at the Virginia Governor over a late term abortion bill
  • McConnell is mad about a democratic house bill to make election day a federal holiday
  • Venezuela is in turmoil
  • The EU rejected Theresa May’s plans to change Brexit deal
  • Everybody has measles in Portland/SW Washington
  • The CEO of Starbucks wants to run for president and everyone hates that idea

So after a week of NO NEWS AT ALL, here is what I picked up from people around me in my liberal bubble during the week just by listening to conversations:

  • Liam Neeson said something racist
  • The government of Virginia also did or said some questionably racist things, also something about sexual harassment
  • Women wore white during Trump’s State of the Union, which was filled with bad rhetoric
  • Maroon Five is the worst

If you don’t live in America or only get your news from conservative sources I’m going to guess your headlines looked a lot different. I heard nothing about anything outside of American news and all the news I did pick up included American politicians/celebrities being the absolute worst. I am kind of dying to know what’s happening in Venezuela but I haven’t heard anything.

Damn that’s some shitty reporting from me! Well, except the part about Maroon Five. I didn’t watch a second of the Super Bowl, but I didn’t need a Super Bowl performance by Maroon Five to tell me that they sucked. Everyone loves to hate [insert musician that plays at the Super Bowl]. Doesn’t matter who it is.

I am ITCHING to dig into these four news stories I heard about in passing, but unfortunately it’s week two of my challenge and the only place I can go look up what “really” happened is FOX NEWS. Just to get a taste of what my next post is going to be like let’s do an experiment. I’m going to look up one story on the State of the Union, Liam Neeson and the Virginia government on Fox News and report back right now on what I found.

State of the Union: The night was miserable for congressional democrats. Trump urged for bipartisan cooperation. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez didn’t applaud, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand didn’t even stand up once and Nancy Pelosi clapped weird.

Liam Neeson: Admitted that he once wanted to kill a ‘black bastard’ for revenge. Jesus Christ. Anyway, Fox News is reporting that Michelle Rodriguez said he’s not racist because he stuck his tongue super far down Viola Davis’ throat in the movie Widows. Oooookay. Anyway, Neeson apologized for having those thoughts and Fox News gives us no context as to why he would even bring that shit up, but there you go.

Virginia Government: Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is involved in a allegation of sexual assault at the 2004 DNC. State Attorney General Mark Herring admitted to donning blackface at a college party in 1980. Fox News is frothing at the mouth at all the bad things these democrats have done and noting any silence about this on the left.

I already have a headache from this and it’s only been one day of Fox News. Next weeks posts should get weird. I almost miss not know what was going on in the news. I’m also going to make a fun game of how many times the Fox News front pages has a story on Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren or Hilary Clinton. We will see who the winner is at the end of the week!

I also finished a really great book this week called Listen Liberal: or whatever happened to the party of the people by Thomas Frank. Check out the review here.

February 2019 - The News · The News

The News – Intro

Dry January is over for me and so it’s the perfect time to start drinking again and focus the month of February on the news media. I honestly can’t imagine doing this challenge completely sober so it’s great timing.

This challenge will change weekly and the goal will be to show that our knowledge of ‘what is happening’ in the world depends on what we are reading, who we are talking to and sometimes even where we live.

The first week will be spent with no news! That’s right. I’m taking January 31st-February 7th off from the news. I will be happily skipping the State of the Union this year. I will not seek the news on Reddit, Google, Facebook, BBC, Fox, MSNBC, CNN, local news, you name it, I’m not having it.

Week one will be a chance to cleanse the pallet. The one exception is I will be able to ask people around me what’s going on in the news if I desire. I will also be able to pick up the news just from listening to people around me talk about it. I’m hoping to show what someone who doesn’t pay attention to the news picks up as news worthy.

Week two (here’s where the drinking comes in) I’ll be only reading Fox News. I don’t have cable so I won’t have to WATCH fox news (thank baby Jesus), but I will be only getting my news and headlines from them. Then I’ll report to you what the news for the week is when I only got my news from Fox.

Then I’ll be moving on to CNN for week three. If you don’t think CNN has a bias then clearly you’ve been reading too much CNN. It’ll be interesting to see the contrast here.

Why is this so important to see things from all sides? Although bias is impossible to get rid of completely (heck I’ve been pretty bias this entire post so far), it’s still important that we look for it and learn how to identify it. Here’s an example of a news story told three different ways:

Via All Sides

Now I realize this challenge focuses solely on AMERICAN news, which is why for the last week (which will bump a bit into March due to the weird way February works) I’ll be reading Al Jazeera, which I think is a fairly balanced world focused news site, although by no means perfect being owned by the government of Qatar. I’ll do an expose on a few different countries for week four via BBC News because they have an excellent search option to narrow down news by world region, and I’ll let you know what the top story is in those countries. News happens in other parts of the world too my American friends!

BBC’s awesome world news menu, which gives a nice overview of news going on in each region of the world.

I’ll also be reading three books this month, one on on the left, one in the middle and one on the right of U.S. politics. They are called Listen Liberal by Thomas Frank, Republican Like Me by Ken Stern and other is called The Loudest Voice in the Room by Gabriel Sherman. Thomas Frank and Ken Stern books are both written by current or former liberals. Frank spends his book so far examining where the left has failed the working class and Stern spends his book getting out of his blue bubble and experiencing some GOP love. Gabriel Sherman’s book gives a deep look into Roger Ailes life and legacy as founder of Fox News.

So that’s the February challenge. No news has already started for me and I’ll be honest, I wanted to check the news several times already today. Help I’m dying.