March 11, 2014 by David K. Sutton
Fear And Balanced: How Fox News Uses White Anxiety To Its Advantage
We are becoming a rainbow nation. In 1960, our population was 85% white, by 2060, it will be 43% white. Frankly, that is freaking out a lot of older people. – Paul Taylor, author of “The Next America”
We are witness to what happens when the old guard of the American population slowly recedes from the dominant position it once held. America is on an unstoppable march of diversity, and while not all whites have a problem with this, the older, more conservative, white Americans are indeed “freaking out.”
This is where Fox News steps in. It has been said Fox News operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican National Committee, but there is a higher God to which the conservative “news” network prays. The so-called “Fair & Balanced” network appropriates much of its air time feeding the anxiety of older white Americans. All good television is designed to evoke an emotional response, but Fox News is the only news network that does this to not only deliver the ratings, but to also serve an agenda. Their stories, their narrative, their commercials, nearly everything about the way they present “information” is designed to elicit an emotional “us against them” reaction from their target demographic.
Fox News, particularly prime time, but also Fox & Friends, is not driven by facts and evidence, but rather regressive reactionary commentary. It could be said that MSNBC at times has a narrow focus driven by hosts who lean left politically, but there is a notable difference. MSNBC, and everything about their branding, is about using information to achieve progress and a better life for all. It’s right there in their tagline “Lean Forward.” Fox News, on the other hand, deliberately harvests the dismay and unease felt by its viewers in the wake of rapidly changing America. And Fox News has no problem willfully lying to its viewers, just go back to that tag line, “Fair & Balanced.” Even Fox News viewers know the network is conservative, that’s why they watch it, yet somehow they are fine with a tagline that serves no other purpose than to mislead. MSNBC’s tagline tells you what they are about, with no need to deceive.
But I will offer conservatives this juicy morsel: On some level, everyone is agenda driven. But while there are some who care about the truth even when it’s not convenient, there are others who let their agenda blind them from the truth. Many Fox News personalities not only do this, they also very often dabble in the area of conspiracy theories.
Reality has a well-known liberal bias. – Stephen Colbert
A humorous line from the late night funny man, but the truth is this: Reality doesn’t so much have a liberal bias as it does a bias towards progress. The reason why this line is funny is because of a history of regressive forces on the right using the word “liberal” as a label, attaching it to many of the human rights victories over the past century, many of the same successes these same regressive forces would like to repeal. But these achievements should not be defined as liberal, they should be a shared common goal of humanity to see progress, advancement, and to look ahead and make life better for all, even if sometimes that means making a small personal sacrifice along the way.
But there are those who fear change, and who are more comfortable with the devil they know, and they will go so far as to demonize current (and past) attempts at progress because of said fear, and they then dismiss things which should be objectively true, calling it instead “liberal bias.”
So I prefer to look at it this way: It’s not left and right or liberal and conservative, there have always been forces within humanity that have been willing to ignore evidence and facts when not convenient, and this particular mindset is at the core of Fox News. So while it is true that MSNBC could be swayed by agenda (and you can call that a liberal agenda if you so choose), their default mode of operation is not built around fear of evidence and facts that are not convenient to a particular ideology. So for a specific story, its possible MSNBC could get it wrong because their agenda clouded their judgment, but on the next story they will get it right because they aren’t so emotionally attached to it. But as I previously stated, Fox News operates most of the time feeding on emotion and fueling a backlash culture, so they cannot escape this emotional attachment in their story-telling.
That’s the difference, and its why I will not get caught up in a Fox News vs. MSNBC debate rooted in false equivalence. But if you are conservative, and you are a regular Fox News viewer (bravo for sticking around this long), I already know you don’t believe a word I’m saying.