Our nation is facing some formidable problems in these turbulent days. We have an economy that is struggling to recover from the worst meltdown in decades. We are engaged in two wars and at least two other diplomatic crises that threaten to escalate. Our environment is being assaulted by toxins and the industrial enterprises who produce them. And there is hatred aimed at Americans from foreign terrorists as well as domestic Tea Baggers and rightist demagogues.
So what does Fox News, via its flagship propaganda site, The Fox Nation, consider to be the most pressing issue of the day? ACORN, of course. This morning Fox Nation is featuring sixteen separate stories on the ACORN controversy:
- New Undercover Video! Beck and O’Reilly Break Down the ACORN Scandal
- Voting for More ACORN Funding?! Fox News Confronts Sen. Burris
- Gibson Too Busy ‘Sailing in Maine’ to Cover ACORN and Tea Parties
- ACORN On Sting: We Were Just “Messing With Them”
- Police Pay Visit To Woman In ACORN Video
- Stewart Skewers ACORN, Blasts Media for Getting Scooped
- Video: CBS Evening News Finally Covers ACORN Scandal
- NYT: Conservatives Draw Blood From ACORN, Favored Foe
- The ACORN Seven
- ACORN Confronts More Pressure Over Videos
- Former Leftist Activist, Turned FBI Informant, Exposes ACORN
- ACORN Founder Wanted Terrorist Attack On RNC To Succeed
- Video: Explosive Undercover ACORN Video!
- Three Strikes And You’re Out, ACORN!
- ACORN Story Grows But Mainstream Media Refuse to Cover It
- Senator Calls for ‘Immediate and Thorough’ Investigation of ACORN
Whatever one thinks of the ACORN affair, it is still difficult to assign this absurd level of significance to what is essentially a story about a few less than reputable characters in an organization that has 400,000 members. On the surface (and there is still some speculation that the videos were doctored), the behavior of the ACORN representatives is indefensible. But it is still a tiny fraction of the employees and volunteers working for ACORN, and no laws were broken, except perhaps by the filmmakers. No loans were applied for or received. Video of the ACORN reps who refused to participate in the phony scam have been suppressed. And there is no evidence that senior ACORN managers would not have been appalled and taken action against the offending staffers had the matter advanced to their offices. In fact, ACORN has a history of uncovering malfeasance in its ranks and alerting authorities themselves.
Nevertheless, the Fox Nationalists saw fit to devote sixteen stories to the ACORN matter. That is far more than any other issue represented on the Fox Nation home page. Coming in second was health care. Some people may think that the health care debate that has been prominent nationally for the past couple of months would have rated higher as a matter of concern. The unprecedented vitriol and dishonesty that has been promulgated by town howlers and their enablers at Fox News has dominated coverage in most other news venues. But Fox Nation only published five stories related to the issue today. And all five of them were thoroughly lacking in substance. All five were about polling or other political considerations, not how the legislation would effect the lives and welfare of Americans:
- Health Care Bounce Over: Support Back to Pre-Speech Levels
- Just 12% Believe Most Opponents of Obama Health Care Plan Are Racist
- Snowe Falls: Now Senate Dems Have No GOP Health Care Support
- Liberal Reps Angry That Obama Doesn’t Want Health Care For Illegals!
- 45% Of Docs Would Consider Quitting If ObamaCare Passes
The first two stories reference polls by the notoriously right-leaning Rasmsussen Reports. Stories 3 and 4 report on negative responses to reform. The last story was particularly egregious. It links to an article in the right-wing Investors Business Daily that itemizes the results of their “poll” that they say contradicts the claims that the medical profession supports reform. However, their poll would not be regarded as credible by any legitimate survey enterprise. Here is how IBD describes their methodology:
“The IBD/TIPP Poll was conducted by mail the past two weeks, with 1,376 practicing physicians chosen randomly throughout the country taking part. Responses are still coming in…”
This is no better than any of the self-selecting online polls that employ no criteria whatsoever for respondents. You know, the ones with the disclaimer that they are not scientific. IBD posts no such disclaimer. The responses are only from doctors who chose to return the mailed questionnaires. There is no indication of how many of the questionnaires were actually returned. Theoretically, this could be a poll of 10 or 12 people who may not even be doctors. IBD’s admission that “responses are still coming in” indicates that they didn’t even bother to wait sufficient time for the questionnaires to be received and included in their already suspect results.
The fact that Fox Nation is focusing so intently on ACORN speaks to their goal of promoting a dramatic controversy as a diversionary tactic to keep people from learning more about substantive issues like health care. Fox has long utilized this sort of misdirection to assure that their viewers remain ill/misinformed. From the perspective of Fox News, it is far more important to spotlight tangential matters like ACORN, and use them to attack Democrats and the administration, who have nothing to do with them in the first place.
This is how Fox News endeavors to keep their viewers ignorant and, at the same time, incite them into a panicky rage. It is how they foment the fear of czars and socialism and tyranny, despite the absence of any such threats. It is how a mob is built from a community of dupes. And it is both cynical and dangerous, but Fox undoubtedly doesn’t care.