Starve The Beast: Appetite For Distortion

Media Blindness

Almost exactly one year ago I published a comprehensive examination of the futility of appearances on Fox News by Democrats and progressives: Starve The Beast. The thrust of the article argued that…

“Every time one of our representatives appears on Fox, they are setting back our agenda. They are not just wasting a little time trying to confront the enemy in its lair. They are literally causing harm to the efforts of the rest of us who are fervently struggling to repair and improve our country.”

The case was supported by studies that showed that Fox News audiences supported Republicans by overwhelming margins and that they were significantly more likely to have misperceptions about current news events. I also provided evidence that the centerpiece in Rupert Murdoch’s empire was a far less ominous presence in the mediasphere than they liked to imagine themselves.

It’s all still true. Rasmussen conducted a new study that affirms the previous studies. Their survey shows that Fox News viewers are still a species apart from the rest of the television population.

When nine out of ten Fox viewers say that they will vote for John McCain, you have an audience that may be more accurately described as a cult (as I described it in The Cult Of Foxonality). And while viewers at both CNN and MSNBC express a solid two to one majority for Barack Obama, that is a far cry from the near unanimous, block mentality of Fox viewers. The fact that the CNN and MSNBC audience compositions agree with one another suggests that they may be a better reflection of the population as a whole. They certainly come much closer to public opinion polling on the presidential race. Another indication of the disparity between Fox and its competitors is that 43% of CNN viewers and 38% of MSNBC viewers have a favorable opinion of McCain. However, only 14% of Fox viewers have a favorable opinion of Obama.

This corroborating evidence of how decidedly unfriendly the Fox News audience is to Democrats ought to be enough to persuade them to stay away from the network. Unfortunately, the past few weeks has seen wayward souls like Lanny Davis and Howard Wolfson lured into the Fox lair. To make matters worse, both Hillary Clinton and Obama have recently granted interviews to Fox flacks Bill O’Reilly and Chris Wallace, respectively. Obviously more persuasion is required. So let’s go to the numbers – the Nielsen numbers.

In the first half of 2008, CNN and MSNBC both improved their ratings over the same period the year before by more than 50% in the key 25-54 year old demographic. Fox News squeaked through with a measly 4% gain. In the second quarter Fox actually sunk 2%. And Fox continues to draw the oldest audience in cable news. MSNBC beats Fox with about 35% more viewers in the 18-34 demo. So Fox’s audience is not only growing slower than its competitors, it is failing to attract the next generation of news viewers. The only reason for the size of the audience they presently have is that they have cornered the market for conservative couch jockeys who congregate at their cable water cooler. Hence their dramatic overweighting of McCainiacs. The rest of the news consuming audience is splintered throughout the dial in a manner that disguises the fact that they are in the majority. There are far more non-Fox viewers than Fox viewers, but they are dispersed over a half dozen channels or more. Conservatives are all gathering together, glassy-eyed in the Fox clubhouse.

Democrats and progressives need to be reminded that a network that is overtly hostile to their interests holds no attraction for them. There is no reason to grace their airwaves. There is no benefit to doing so. They will not change the minds of the Foxpods watching programs like Brit Hume’s Special Report or the O’Reilly Factor. Their appearances will only be used to humiliate them and then to lay claim to being “fair and balanced.” It simply makes no sense to ally with a organization that is working openly and vigorously for your defeat. Can it be any clearer that people like Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, Neil Cavuto, and Sean Hannity are the enemy?

Starve The BeastAnd if it isn’t enough that Fox News is avowedly opposed to the goals of Democrats and progressives, then the fact that viewers are turning away from Fox while the market is growing should convince them of what the rest of the country has already decided – that Fox is not a news network, it is a tool for right-wing propaganda and disinformation. That’s why their audience share is shrinking. And that’s why we must not grant them the credibility our association implies. Just stay the HELL off of Fox News!

This beast has a ravenous appetite and we should not be throwing it chum. Leave it to whither and parish and cease to threaten our land and well-being. We are better rid of it. Starve The Beast!


16 thoughts on “Starve The Beast: Appetite For Distortion

  1. I have to agree the lamestream media is on the government’s & corporate pocket. I have to ask you though, why are you supporting that pure idiot and vacuous empty suit Obama? Is he really any better than the senile old fool McCain? I don’t see it, I see we have no credible choice for president this year, just as all of the elections in my life time. The only problem is, every four years the choices get worse, not better. Let’s just call the whole thing off.

    • The reason I support Obama is because I thoroughly disagree with your assessment of him. But even stipulating your view, Obama would be worlds away from the destructive agenda of John McCain and his Republican benefactors.

      Obama would surround himself with qualified public servants in the White House, the Cabinet, and 3,000+ appointees for whom the President is responsible. And of course judicial nominees would be starkly different from those McCain would favor. So even if you think he is an empty suit, you can be assured that his administration, would be filled with people who have experience. And most of the work that any administration does is handled by the Cabinet departments and federal agencies that the President oversees.

      And if you agree with me about the media, than you must remember that one of the most important federal agencies is the FCC. Obama is a co-sponsor of the Media Ownership Act of 2007, and he co-authored an editorial with Sen. John Kerry on media reform. McCain, on the other hand, is close to telecom lobbyists (i.e. Vicki Iseman), advocates further deregulation, and is opposed to network neutrality.

      More on these matters here.

  2. Can we place Faux Noose under Inherent Contempt?
    I still don’t understand how it is legal for this blatant, verified, continuous domestic propaganda to be perpetrated on Americans on American soil????
    W.T. F.?????

    • And bought and paid for by a “foreign agent” (Murdoch) at that. I don’t know what Murdoch’s problem is , that he feels it necessary to interfere in our domestic issues and tear us apart but one thing is clear , he’s not on America’s side.

      I’d be more than glad to boycott Faux’s sponsors , if I knew who they were —– I can’t stomach watching Faux long enough to compile a list.

  3. Mark,

    Come on dude, Obama is even less qualified than McCain and that takes some doing. He has done absolutely nothing with his entire career that makes worthy of running for president. I live in Chicago and I know more than most of you who don’t live here what a useless idiot this guy is. His biggest claim to fame is that he is part of the totally corrupt Chicago machine. He was a “community activist” whatever that is, president of the Joyce foundation and a junior State senator with an abysmal record before being elected US senator. Since becoming a US Senator, all he has dome is run for president. Even you pointed out that he has done nothing but co-author an article. he reminds me of a snake oil salesman or one of those southern money grubbing TV evangelistic.

    I will not vote for him, period. Nor will I vote for McCain, the man is clearly off his rocker, out of touch with reality and should be enjoying his wealth with his family, children and grandchildren. That he is not proves he is nothing but a power mad megalomaniac who needs help, not more power.

    I am afraid I will just have to sit this one out.

    • Boy, you really ignored virtually everything I wrote. As a glaring example of your mis-comprehension, I never said that “he has done nothing but co-author an article.” I said that he co-sponsored the Media Ownership Act of 2007, and I referenced the editorial only to point out that he was on the record with regard to media reform, in addition to his legislative work.

      And while I consider him more qualified than you do, you also ignored my argument that the real work of government is done by Cabinet and agency appointees, and these people would be far better than those McCain would appoint.

      Please re-read my response to your first comment.

  4. Sorry Mark, I don’t care about who he might appoint to whatever office, post, position or court. He is an unqualified snake oil salesman and his wife is a racist. He has nothing in his background that remotely qualifies him for president. You, as a staunch supporter of his, cannot even come up with any reasons to vote for him, you are reduced to claiming he might appoint some other poeople to some offices.

    He wants to ruin what’s left of what was once the greatest health care industry in the world, he wants to steal more of my hard earned money in taxes and, quite honestly, he brings nothing to the table but the same old worn out pap. He also is lost without his handlers and teleprompters. It is actually embarrassing to see him speak freely without a script. He is a disgrace.

    I simply cannot believe that so many intelligent, basically good people have been so duped by this cad. It is time we demanded an end to politics as a career and an end to unqualified criminals as our only choice on the ballot. If we don’t, well, we will continue our slide into a socialist / Fascist dictatorship. Take your pick, republican fascism or democratic socialism. I choose neither, thank – you.

    • I can come up with plenty of reasons to support Obama (see my Barack-itizer widget). In case you haven’t noticed, this post is about the media and Fox News. I have been trying to steer the discussion back to that, but you are relentless. I do not want to debate Obama with you, mostly because it is plain that it would be a monumental waste of time. You and I see things very differently.

      As to a choice between republican fascism or democratic socialism, it isn’t even close. Democratic socialism is not far off from what we have now. What do you think Social Security is; or public education; or interstate highways; or minimum wage; or Medicare; Head Start, etc.?

      Those programs that helped millions of Americans are at the core of what is best in this country.

  5. Ohhhh, he CO sponsored an ACT! WOW! That’s it, I didn’t realize what a great visionary and genius he really truly is. I am going to vote for him several times now(this is Chicago after all)! You have convinced me of the error of my ways, all hail the Lightworker, mystic, magic-man, saviour of the world.

    Get a grip on yourself Mark. He is a loser, a poser, and you are grasping at straws to defend your blind support of this cad. When we accept totally incompetent morons as our only choices, we are going down. By participating in this corrupt system, you are giving your tacit approval to it and agreeing to live under its oppressive yoke. Not me, I refuse to accept the choice of stupid idiot #1 or stupid idiot #2.

  6. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA What do you say now Mark? He has appointed nothing but Clinton re-treads and criminals. Every time he opens his mouth, he proves what I told you last summer. Obama is an incompetent crook, hope you enjoy living with your choice, unfortunately, I will have to live with it too! See:

    Even your fellow progressives are tearing him apart. HAHAHAHAHAHA, I love proving you wrong, it is really as easy as taking candy from a baby, or in this case, a delusional brain washed simpleton. Wake up, all of you are being led to slaughter, I would hope you are starting to realize it by now.

    • Wow, you really are obsessed.

      Obama’s appointees are exactly what I said they would be: better and more experienced than McCain’s would have been.

      As for progressives not agreeing with everything Obama says, that is what I like about us. We are not all marching lock-step with a leader, as you do with yours (Rush, Beck, Hannity, etc.). We have minds of our own and we will hold our representatives accountable. If Republican citizens had done that during the last eight years, we wouldn’t be in the hole we’re in today.

      But you keep laughing if it makes you feel better for being an irrelevant minority in a nation that supports Obama and progressive policies by huge margins.

  7. Perhaps you cannot read for comprehension, but I stated quite clearly that I did not support insane McCain, I do not listen to the idiot Rush or Hannity or any of the other fools who continuously blast the airwaves with their BS.

    Obama did not appoint any qualified people to his cabinet, he appointed the same old idiots that helped get us into this mess in the first place. People who are criminals and, if you and I did the exact same thing they did, we would be in jail. From the evil Rahm Emmanuel to the incompetent Janet Napolitano, there is nobody in this administration worth a tinker’s damn.

    If you really believe George Bush II is wholly responsible for this mess, you are really out of touch. While he has more than his share of the blame to accept, this started decades ago, mainly with FDR.

    As for your last so-called point, you had better check again. The Obamanation won mainly in far left bastions like Chicago, NYC, LA, SF etc. with only 51% of the vote and with only ~60 – 62% of eligible voters bothering to vote. That means your man won with ~32% of the people supporting him, hardly a nation that supports Obama and progressive policies by huge margins. There are more people like me who refuse to take part in this charade than there are people who voted for the incompetent idiot Obama. I will continue to laugh at all of you who are so caught up in the fight between Demon and Repugnant you can’t even see you are being played for fools.

  8. Hi – I just read your rant about this on DailyKos and I agree. The question that comes to mind is when *would* it be safe to go on a program like FoxNews again? It seems like there needs to be a set of principles somewhere — doesn’t Bill Moyers or other responsible journalists have one? I would think they would. Basically it’s a classification system, by the industry itself. Can a program call itself news if it isn’t? Heck, the truth in advertising people should be on it.

    Anyway, it seems to me that asking pundits or commentators to *not* go on a network is a good thing, but it does impact their income. And wouldn’t another “faux Fox” just pop up somewhere? The only thing that will make the line clear, between what’s okay and what’s not, is a clear statement of principles that is also able to be measured against, pass fail. Networks or shows which meet the principles are reliable, those which do not are not.

    Think it could be done?

    • You have offered a lot to think about.

      I have seen various sets of principle related to journalism. The Society of Professional Journalist has a list, and I believe the Poynter Institute has one. There are surely others (check Annenberg or the Shorenstein Center).

      I have not given much thought to when an embargo of Fox should be withdrawn because we have enough on our hands getting it to be honored.

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