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Posted at 11:57 AM ET, 02/25/2011

Fox News's parade of buffoons

By Adam Serwer

Last week Greg and I wrote about the poll from the Public Religion Research Institute showing "a significant correlation between trust in Fox News and negative attitudes about Muslims." Part of how Fox News tries to stir up its viewers' cultural fears and resentments is by giving airtime to yahoos who wouldn't otherwise be newsworthy.

The airtime Fox gives to Anjem Choudary, a British citizen who draws attention to himself by loudly praising terrorists, is a perfect example. Yesterday Fox News brought Choudary on to promote his planned rally for sharia law in front of the White House, which, like, five people in the U.S. would have heard of otherwise.

Choudary is, of course, perfect Fox News fodder, because he's a cartoonish buffoon who can be counted on to confirm every stereotype about Islam and Muslims, and who provides the hosts with an opportunity to lecture him about how great America is and how his scheme will never succeed. Sean Hannity brought him on during the uprising in Egypt, presumably as some sort of "expert," promoting the segment with this warning that Choudary "thinks the extremist group known as the Muslim brotherhood will likely rise to power in Cairo." Hannity then proceeded to lecture Choudary on the greatness of freedom and America, while Choudary insisted that the world would someday be governed by Sharia law.

Yesterday's exchange with Host Gretchen Carlson is a perfect example of the genre:

Coudary: I think we need to have a healthy discussion about what is the way going forward for mankind, is it democracy and freedom, or is it Islam? I think it's Islam.

Carlson: Well I can tell you right now Americans don't want Sharia law.

Aha, see! All the crazy stuff you've been seeing on Fox News about Islam and Muslims is true. Thankfully your heroic Fox News hosts are there to give him what for. In fairness, it's not just Fox -- CNN's Parker/Spitzer hosted Choudary for a similarly idiotic spectacle in early February, so the demands of 24-hour cable news are likely at fault here as well.

With Fox, however, there's more of an obvious pattern. When there's an issue involving race or religion, Fox responds by giving airtime to cartoonish extremists who can confirm its viewers' worst fears. Fox News's use of Choudary hasn't reached the saturation point of its coverage of the New Black Panther Party, which it has hosted more than 50 times over the past ten years despite the group's total irrelevance, but it serves the same kind of purpose.

Giving airtime to these kinds of people is part of how Fox reinforces the drumbeat of stereotypes that permeates the rest of its coverage, and how it ensures its viewers subscribe to what Greg referred to as the "self-sustaining, self-perpetuating alternate reality" where America is on the verge of establishing sharia law and where an anti-white hate group has influence in the White House. As we saw from last week's poll, it seems to work pretty well.

By Adam Serwer  | February 25, 2011; 11:57 AM ET
Categories:  Political media  
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Next: Public employees not such an easy scapegoat after all

Comments

Good piece Greg. Hope the WaPo links it on its home page.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

It is a thread by Adam, not Greg.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 25, 2011 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Call it the Alan Colmes Syndrome. Living embodiments of straw men.

Posted by: trevorjackson | February 25, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

FOX NEWS is still one of the very, very few sources of information that is not held captive by deep-blue, dyed-in-the-wool, Obamacrat bobbleheads.

Until that gruesome defect in American communication is redressed, FOX NEWS will enjoy a ratings bonanza that is a complimentary gift of the wacky, leftist buffoons that pull the strings that make Barack H. Obama dance to their tune.

FOX NEWS owes obamatons like Adam Sewer and Sarge Gregg a big THANKS.

Suckers!

Posted by: battleground51 | February 25, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

@trevorjackson: "Call it the Alan Colmes Syndrome."

What was wrong with Colmes?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse

yeah, the Republican party is sooooooooooooooo not racist.

Still, I'll take this over Megyn Kelly any day.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 25, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse

It's so obvious that they manipulate their viewers it leads to a series of questions:

1) How is it that Fox News viewers do NOT get that they are being manipulated?

2) What is the true vulnerability that the executives exploit and how is it that this vulnerability is NOT exposed to these people?

3) How is it that the Republican Party can wrap itself around the flag AND an overtly bigoted programming at the same time and get away with it?

4) Is it the stupidity of the viewership?

5) Is is the racial prejudices?

6) And, most importantly, how can it be overcome?

7) Is education the answer?

I struggle with these questions all the time. Any honest dialog in response would be interesting... Kevin? ScottC? QB? Battleground? Anyone else? Any intellectually honest responses to these questions?

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 25, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse

This is a much stronger argument (Fox stir up its viewers' cultural fears and resentments is by giving airtime to yahoos) than the one made last week, that Fox tells non-stop lies about Islam.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

My comment got eaten... 2nd try...

How is it that Fox News viewers DO NOT realize they're being manipulated?

Is it a lack of education?

Is it willful ignorance?

Is it their racial and/or religious prejudice?

The manipulation is easily exposed and yet the viewership remains loyal. What is a possible solution? What will HELP these people to see how they are being manipulated?

Interested in any thoughts...

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 25, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Ah. It wasn't eaten. Sorry for double post. Interested in any responses to 12:25pm or 12:30pm.

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 25, 2011 12:31 PM | Report abuse

R+R, that's just how most people are. They don't think for themselves. That's why organized religious flourishes. That's why Republicans are a viable party. I mean, hell, that's why things like Citizens United makes such a big difference. That legislation made absolutely no difference in how I voted since I read the news and am informed on the issues. But so many people just aren't bothered to think things through.

And I don't think it can be cured. Just like some people are taller, some people are better athletes, some people are better thinkers.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 25, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

r&r--I wonder about the same things you do, particularly question 6. And, no, I don't have any answers.

Posted by: AllButCertain | February 25, 2011 12:37 PM | Report abuse

What was wrong with Colmes?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 12:20 PM

He was the token liberal patsy. Juan Williams now plays that role.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 25, 2011 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Ethan, only humor has a chance, IMO. I never watch cable news, but I see cable news, mainly FOX, skewered by Jon Stewart. If you email or your conservative friends links to appropriate "Daily Show" routines you will get more mileage than from anything else you could do.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 25, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Post eaten, but I'll assume it might appear.

DDawd, I'm not sure we should decide Fox viewers are unintelligent. Not anymore than the rest of the population. I think Roger Ailes has designed his programs to draw people who want his kind of entertainment and reinforcement of their beliefs. And I believe it's a welcoming place for many people who are carrying resentments and want them validated.

Posted by: AllButCertain | February 25, 2011 12:45 PM | Report abuse

r&r: I'm going with willful ignorance in most cases.

Years ago - early 90s - when Rush Limbaugh was just becoming huge (pardon the pun), I commented to a wingnut friend of my husband's that I gave up listening to Rush because I couldn't respect the fact that he rarely, if ever, allowed dissenting callers on the air. His response? "That's because no one who disagrees with him ever calls in". You just can't argue with that sort of voluntary cluelessness.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | February 25, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

It would be interesting to see if CNN and/or FOX ratings increase when they have these individuals on. I'm sure that would be hard to prove, but ratings has to play a factor along with a desire to brainwash viewers.

I do think the Black Panthers example is probably the better of the two. Islam comes up somewhat regularly in any number of contexts, but Black Panthers....not so much. Unless you're talking about Anchorman and/or pungent cologne.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 25, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

"He was the token liberal patsy. Juan Williams now plays that role.

Posted by: Liam-still "

Not that I listen to Juan Williams much, but is he really that liberal? I've never heard him say anything liberal. And after all the martyring he got by Conservatives after his firing from NPR (for saying Conservative Things) made me think that there's no way that he's a liberal.

Or is it just a leftward shift that black people get? Michael Steele is called a moderate all the time because he is black. Maybe Williams is a moderate who is called a liberal because of his race?

Posted by: DDAWD | February 25, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

ronnieandrush -

I wouldn't take too much time worrying about Fox. Their schtick is only bought by about 30% of the US population, mainly elderly, so they are dropping like flies daily. Demographics are working against them.
Have you ever seen that trio of Carlson, Doocy and Kilmeade?
Their combined IQ doesn't even make it into the triple digits.

Posted by: filmnoia | February 25, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

OT but I couldn't resist. In other news, this headline from the Minneapolis Star Tribune: Drunk breaks into St. Cloud Pizza Hut, deep-fries wings.

(No connection of course, but St. Cloud is in Michele Bachmann's district.)

Posted by: AllButCertain | February 25, 2011 12:55 PM | Report abuse

"DDawd, I'm not sure we should decide Fox viewers are unintelligent. Not anymore than the rest of the population. I think Roger Ailes has designed his programs to draw people who want his kind of entertainment and reinforcement of their beliefs. And I believe it's a welcoming place for many people who are carrying resentments and want them validated.

Posted by: AllButCertain"

Yeah, that's how I feel too. You have dittoheads for all sorts of things. Religion and Conservatism are the two major ones, but you can have dittoheads in science, liberalism, medicine, anything. But you can also have very intelligent people who are also religious. I'm not sure if you can have intelligent Conservatives. Like someone like Paul Ryan is obviously intelligent, but he doesn't believe 90% of the things he says. He's smart enough to get the inconsistencies in everything he says. You simply can't be intelligent and truly believe that the Bush tax cuts contribute 0.00% to the deficit.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 25, 2011 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Fox Cable News Is the National Mosque for Tea Party Worshipers, and Roger Ailes has convinced them to obey his Republican Sharia Law commands.

All the faithful are required to bow and pray to Rush Limbaugh's Mecca Arse, for three hours each day.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 25, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

@Ethan: "I struggle with these questions all the time. Any honest dialog in response would be interesting... Kevin? ScottC? QB? Battleground? Anyone else? Any intellectually honest responses to these questions?"

I may not be the best person to offer input, because I don't agree with the premise that the only explanation for something that you don't like or disagree with is that the people are stupid, or it's all a fraud. Or that it's full of racism.

A lot of it (Chaudry being an excellent example) is sensationalism. Liker reality TV, people being boring and middle-of-the-road and saying moderate, boring things is the role of CSPAN, not Fox News. Fox News doesn't want CSPAN ratings, so it goes the Chaudry route.

I think people like clear good guys and bad guys. Nuance is often boring, and takes time. Clarity of narrative is a critical point. There are a lot of liberals and Democrats watching Fox, and not because they agree with it, but because Fox is their version of Chaudry. It's their "buffoon". Fox takes a very right-wing, pro-American (as the right tends to interpret that position) stand, it's nice and clear, and makes them the perfect, mustache-twirling villain (or hero, depending) of the narrative. CSPAN is a lot more subdued and thoughtful, and the ratings reflect that.

What are CNNs highest rated shows? I know Nancy Grace is one of them, and it's pure sensationalism. Bill O'Rielly--sensationalism.

The reality is that subdued, thoughtful, and inconclusive has never attracted a broad audience, unless made mandatory. And, at the moment, in this country, rightwing sensationalism (O'Rielly, Fox) plays much better than leftwing sensationalism (Olberman, Schulz, MSNBC) in the dinosaur media.

New media has plenty of liberal and neoliberal viewpoints with a broad audience. Folks who want a lot of liberal counterprogramming can find it.

""How is it that Fox News viewers DO NOT realize they're being manipulated?""

Do you feel manipulated when you do something you want to do, or buy something you want to buy, that is also advertised? If you're enjoying a movie that hits the right emotional buttons for you, do you feel manipulated? Comedy is manipulative, and, if it makes you laugh, you've just been manipulated. It's a sticky wicket.

""Is it a lack of education?""

Don't strain your self-flattery muscle, there.

""Is it willful ignorance?""

Isn't it for everybody?

""Is it their racial and/or religious prejudice?""

Even if it is, will they admit it?

"" What will HELP these people to see how they are being manipulated?""

I know what won't. Talking about them and believing the reason they don't agree with you is because they are all uneducated, ignorant racists. You can't open up a dialog with someone about "how stupid and racist" they are. It's like saying, "let's talk about this, now shut up--I said zip it. Zip it!"

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Just a couple of quick points here:
(1)Mr Serwer has rung the bell and the pavlovians here are drooling. It is interesting to note that the number of "topics" that can set the dogs to salivating seems to be on the rise. At first it was just Ms Palin, now it is Fox News too. I'm certain that there are a number of other "topics" that Adam or Greg could post here that would elicit the kind of mindless drivel noted above. The Liam-stills here are being well trained by the WaPo apparatchiks.

You guys are tools, face it.

(2) Sharia and the religion upon which it is based is a direct threat on our liberty. I know that it is unPC to speak ill of Islam, but Islam is as Islam does.

Examples of tragedy created in the name of Allah make the news daily. Of late a story about a 14 year old rape victim beaten to death in compliance with a fatwa issued by a group of imams is just the latest example.

But liberals don't want to talk about that. Oh no. Better to sling drool about Fox news. Right on cue.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 25, 2011 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Skip, thanks for filing my daily quota on references to saliva.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 25, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

"(2) Sharia and the religion upon which it is based is a direct threat on our liberty. I know that it is unPC to speak ill of Islam, but Islam is as Islam does."

You're sooooo brave.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 25, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

"He was the token liberal patsy. Juan Williams now plays that role.

Posted by: Liam-still "

Not that I listen to Juan Williams much, but is he really that liberal? I've never heard him say anything liberal. And after all the martyring he got by Conservatives after his firing from NPR (for saying Conservative Things) made me think that there's no way that he's a liberal.

Or is it just a leftward shift that black people get? Michael Steele is called a moderate all the time because he is black. Maybe Williams is a moderate who is called a liberal because of his race?

Posted by: DDAWD | February 25, 2011 12:50 PM

Like I said; A liberal patsy for Faux News. What do you think a Patsy is supposed to be, a real liberal, or someone that they can prop up, and claim to be representing the other view point?

Roger Ailes, when asked why he hired Chris Cuomo to provide commentary on Faux News, replied:

If I have to hire some Liberal, I am going to make sure to hire the dumbest liberal I can find.

Get it now?

Posted by: Liam-still | February 25, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse

@liam: ""If I have to hire some Liberal, I am going to make sure to hire the dumbest liberal I can find.""

But it's a trick. There are no dumb liberals!

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for covering for me, Liam. I'd only add that not only were Colmes's arguments weak and ill-formed, but Colmes himself *appeared* weak next to Chin Hannity. Even if his points were on target, Colmes lacked the bluster and ability to counter Hannity's litanies. Like I said, Colmes was the Scarecrow himself.

Posted by: trevorjackson | February 25, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Not that I watched much cable news before, but having gone almost 2 years without cable, I can't say I miss it. to be fair, I subscribed in mid-April and cancel by the end of June for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 25, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Interesting contrast to Roger Cohen's piece today in the NYT:

"I’ve been thinking about that trip and also about the last time I saw Libyans in exile, in a mosque in Oklahoma City where local Muslims had gathered for Friday prayers.

This was late last year after Oklahoma, in the grips of a strange wave of Islamophobia orchestrated by prominent Republicans, had approved a “Save our State” amendment banning Shariah law. Its supporters told me the amendment was a “preemptive strike” against Muslim takeover.

Imad Enchassi, the imam of the mosque, was talking to his congregation about these troubles and said this: “Many of you may have been harassed or threatened at work. I don’t expect you to love those that hate but understand one thing: Many of you came to America from states of oppression. Here we can sue the government. In the countries where you come from, if you sue the government you disappear.”"

"Enchassi, the imam, had invited the local head of the F.B.I., special agent James Finch, to speak. As he placed the microphone on Finch, he joked: “This is something you’ve not seen before — an imam wiring the F.B.I.!”

Finch, an African-American, stood in front of the congregation and declared: “I’ve come here today to tell you that the F.B.I. stands ready to investigate any violation of the civil rights of our citizens in the state of Oklahoma, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. We are very aggressive in prosecuting civil rights violations, hate crimes, including religious discrimination and defacement or damage to any religious property. All persons in the United States have the freedom to practice their religions without fear of violent acts. If you are threatened in any way, call the F.B.I.”

There was an approving murmur through the mosque — a modest building. As I watched this scene — a black cop telling Muslim Americans about their civil rights and what the F.B.I. and the attorney general would do to enforce them — I could only think of the long journey traveled by the United States from its “original sin” of slavery, through the civil war and Jim Crow, on through the long civil rights campaign and the King assassination, to the once unthinkable thing: the election of an African American to the nation’s highest office.

It takes a long time — centuries — to establish that all men really are created equal; and that “certain unalienable rights” belong to all citizens rather than to all citizens except those of a certain color. Even then bigotry rears its head — as it had in Oklahoma.

Finch, flanked by Sandy Coats, a U.S. attorney for Oklahoma, finished with these words: “I love this country and have to uphold its laws. The buck stops with me. I am the face of the F.B.I. Hold me accountable if something is not investigated because I am passionate about ensuring people’s rights are upheld.”"

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/25/opinion/25iht-edcohen25.html?ref=opinion

Posted by: jnc4p | February 25, 2011 1:15 PM | Report abuse

@Kevin_Willis

"I know what won't. Talking about them and believing the reason they don't agree with you is because they are all uneducated, ignorant racists. You can't open up a dialog with someone about "how stupid and racist" they are. It's like saying, "let's talk about this, now shut up--I said zip it. Zip it!""

You forgot to include chastising them for "clinging to guns and religion" instead of voting the right way.

Posted by: jnc4p | February 25, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Kevin, you do do nuance and that's an interesting post. I've always though Murdoch was savvy to start with sports and build allegiance from there. Isn't there an element to Fox that says it's the macho place to be?

Posted by: AllButCertain | February 25, 2011 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for covering for me, Liam. I'd only add that not only were Colmes's arguments weak and ill-formed, but Colmes himself *appeared* weak next to Chin Hannity. Even if his points were on target, Colmes lacked the bluster and ability to counter Hannity's litanies. Like I said, Colmes was the Scarecrow himself.

Posted by: trevorjackson | February 25, 2011 1:13 PM

You probably still can find the video on Youtube of when Sean Hannity was trying to get away with his usual blustering scapegoating on Robert Gibbs, during the 2008 convention.

Gibbs turned the tables on Hannity, and had Hannity rattled. Colmes had not said a word, until he say Hannity was on the ropes, so he jumped in to defend Hannity.

A Faux News Liberal Patsy in action.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 25, 2011 1:22 PM | Report abuse

The whole Black Panther thing was an utter travesty. It was all an obvious stunt to convince Fox"News" viewers that Obama is "just like these guys!" The group has like 5 members and suddenly they are portrayed as the new black power movement in America!!! The whole thing was disgusting.

But this sort of "reporting" has consequences. We have an electorate that is woefully ignorant of what is really going on in America. For America's safety we need an electorate that is capable of dealing with the world as it is and not what suits their political ideology.

Oh CNN is not much better these days. "Question is sharia law a problem? What say you Newt Gingrich?" I mean just because it is a question doesn't make it any less ridiculous.

Posted by: Alex3 | February 25, 2011 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for replies folks.

I don't think I'll have a chance to reply to many or maybe any, but I appreciate the comments and I've read them all.

All this garbage aside, this reasoned intellectually honest dialog is why I keep coming back to PL. Thx all and thanks Greg and Adam. :)

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 25, 2011 1:36 PM | Report abuse

@jnc: Thanks for that piece and link.

""It takes a long time — centuries — to establish that all men really are created equal; and that “certain unalienable rights” belong to all citizens rather than to all citizens except those of a certain color. Even then bigotry rears its head — as it had in Oklahoma""

America isn't perfect--yet--but it's getting closer. But between Broun and his ilk and the popularity of FOX it's hard to see sometimes. . .

Posted by: Michigoose | February 25, 2011 1:36 PM | Report abuse

@AllButCertain: "Isn't there an element to Fox that says it's the macho place to be?"

It's a very much designed to appeal to men. Although it has a large female audience, Fox is (in my opinion) sort of like the Hooters of news networks. Or that sports bar with all the hot waitresses.

Also, it's designed to appeal to curmudgeons (Bill O'Rielly's audience) and people who want to keep on top of current events, but also really liked the Waltons and have a very nostalgic view of American exceptionalism (which is something I like, even if I don't watch Fox that much).

But it's designed to cater to an audience that either feels it wasn't being heard or respected: conservatives, frat boys, Republicans, flag-wavers, Kiwanis and 4H Club Members, the members of the Elk Lodge, and curmudgeons with too many kids on the lawn and their dang rock 'n roll music and their pants down to their knees, what's wrong with this country?

While shows often cater to different demographics, I've noticed over the past several years a lot of shows featuring curvaceous and/or bodacious babes (conservatively attired, of course, it is a news network) hosting the news, and not from behind a desk. I think that's got to be in part a strategy to grow the young male demographic.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 1:37 PM | Report abuse

FoxNoise is a propaganda network, so I'm not surprised. Göbbels would have been impressed. Sadly, CNN is well on the way to becoming a pale imitation of FxN, a pathetic fate for what was once a news network. Welcome to Idiot America.

Posted by: SouthSloper | February 25, 2011 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Nothing like ignoring the evidence is there"
=======================
But this sort of "reporting" has consequences. We have an electorate that is woefully ignorant of what is really going on in America. For America's safety we need an electorate that is capable of dealing with the world as it is and not what suits their political ideology.

========================

it is quite clear that the American public is very well informed. We are well aware of what is going on in America. That explains the shellacking that Obama and his acolytes took just this past November.

Liberals have sought to explain this repubiation of thier agenda in a variety of ways. All of this points to denial. The current denial dialog is on display in the quote I copied above.

Clearly, the liberals have decided that they lost badly in November because stupid, racist, ideologically ignorant being mislead by Faux news voted against their own interests.

Live in that dream if you please. In fact I reccommend that. The longer the left dwells in denial the easier they will be to beat in 2012.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 25, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

@jnc4p : ""You forgot to include chastising them for "clinging to guns and religion" instead of voting the right way.""

Anytime you chastise a large group of people as if there is no reason for their positions or feelings or beliefs, you lose that argument. Immediately. You're trash talking the other team for the attaboys you get from your mates.

Also, I would add that when you're trying to open up people's eyes to how they are being manipulated--even if true--you have a hard row to hoe. You're essentially wanting to tell them, "Look, you don't think for yourself. Your beliefs are being programmed into you by a TV station, and you're just not smart enough to understand that, yet. Fortunately, I'm much smarter and better than you, and I am here to help you understand how you are incapable of thinking for yourself. Eventually, you will agree with me on every issue, and then you'll be thinking for yourself. Now, let's go!"

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Yes, but at least on CNN, Kathleen Parker, and He Who Enjoys Call Girls, are standing up for "American Exceptionalism.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 25, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

"(2) Sharia and the religion upon which it is based is a direct threat on our liberty. I know that it is unPC to speak ill of Islam, but Islam is as Islam does."

Could you define "direct threat" please? The last Fox News clip I saw talking about the inevitable prospect of sharia law in Minnesota relied upon some muslim cabbies who don't like picking up seeing eye dogs, and a cashier who didn't want to handle packages of bacon while ringing in sales. We may as well call MN the "caliphate" state at this rate!

All religious fundamentalists are a threat to everyone's liberty. And there's more Rushdoony apostles looking to form a Christian theocracy then there are total muslims in America. Ask Michael Schiavo. Right wingers are just scared of Islam because it might be competition in the grand rush to recreate the fun of the Dark Ages.

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

@ronnieandrush "Thanks for replies folks.

I don't think I'll have a chance to reply to many or maybe any, but I appreciate the comments and I've read them all.

All this garbage aside, this reasoned intellectually honest dialog is why I keep coming back to PL. Thx all and thanks Greg and Adam. :)"

You may find this post from Ezra Klein to be of interest on this topic:

"Americans don't like politics -- and that matters"

"To get a sense of how this works in practice, consider the sky-high approval ratings Americans gave to the lame-duck Congress. That was a Congress, mind you, that increased the deficit by more than $850 billion while passing a second round of stimulus -- and this was weeks after an election that theoretically proved Americans wanted lower deficits and an end to stimulus. But when voters saw the two parties agreeing and working together, they loved it, and figured that whatever policy was being passed was probably pretty good. In contrast, Obama ran and won on the Affordable Care Act, but Americans turned against it amidst sharp and unrelenting criticism from the Republican side, much of which focused on the specter of backroom deals and impenetrable complexity"

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2011/02/americans_dont_like_politics_-.html

With regard to Fox News (which I don't watch unless I'm in the lunch line at the nearby sandwich shop which has it on during the day) I think you also have to take into account the news as entertainment factor and giving your target audience what they want.

And as a reminder, I believe CNN actually pioneered this approach before Fox. Lou Dobbs and Crossfire would have fit in just fine at Fox.

Posted by: jnc4p | February 25, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

"Clearly, the liberals have decided that they lost badly in November because stupid, racist, ideologically ignorant being mislead by Faux news voted against their own interests.

Live in that dream if you please. In fact I reccommend that. The longer the left dwells in denial the easier they will be to beat in 2012."

Well no, if you knew anything about us, you'd know we mostly think the Democrats lost because the stimulus wasn't big enough, HAMP was only making the foreclosure mess worse and Republicans managed to somehow convince people that they were going to defend Medicare after the health care reform bill cut the silly "medicare advantage" corporate welfare program. Mostly it was about jobs and the economy as most elections usually are, and Democrats didn't do enough to fix those problems, and didn't run on doing more to fix them.

It sure doesn't help that fox news programs people full of lies, but I fail to see how losing the 2012 election would be evidence for or against that claim. That's some great Fox level logic there; "You call us propagandists? Well we'll just propagandize so much you'll lose the next election too, that will prove we're honest."

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2011 1:51 PM | Report abuse

The words are quite clear science guy. But nice try though.

I understand the visceral need that liberals have to defend Islam. I understand it, but I don't agree with it.

Islam is as Islam does. When was the last time that a christian fundamentalist engaged in female genital mutilation or "honor killing"? How many fatwas calling for a 14 year old rape victim to recieve 100 lashes were issued by the catholic bishops in America in 2010?

I agree that any autocracy based on any dogma is a threat to liberty. The English learned this via their own rebellion. A case can be made that Cromwell was a big a problem as the ayatollah ali khamenei. Certainly an autocracy based liberal dogma would be direct threat to our liberty.

But I wonder which of the christian fundamentalist theocracies currently in existence is the worst in your opinion.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 25, 2011 1:51 PM | Report abuse

All, my take on the real meaning of Wisconsin events:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2011/02/public_employees_not_such_an_e.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | February 25, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Of course CNN is moving more towards being Fox-lite. Fox gets great ratings so there's marketshare to be had. That's my biggest problem with many comments about Fox and news stations in general, they either ignore or minimize the importance of ratings.

Kevin- yes, the "you're brainwashed" explanation is surprisingly ineffective. I think the best you can do is say Fox is missing a different perspecitve and then provide that perspective to whoever it is you are talking to. As you've pointed out previously, if Fox watcher are so dumb and easily brainwashed, why have other stations failed so miserably in doing the same thing?

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 25, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

@Scientician ""(2) Sharia and the religion upon which it is based is a direct threat on our liberty. I know that it is unPC to speak ill of Islam, but Islam is as Islam does."

Could you define "direct threat" please? The last Fox News clip I saw talking about the inevitable prospect of sharia law in Minnesota relied upon some muslim cabbies who don't like picking up seeing eye dogs, and a cashier who didn't want to handle packages of bacon while ringing in sales. We may as well call MN the "caliphate" state at this rate!

All religious fundamentalists are a threat to everyone's liberty. And there's more Rushdoony apostles looking to form a Christian theocracy then there are total muslims in America. Ask Michael Schiavo. Right wingers are just scared of Islam because it might be competition in the grand rush to recreate the fun of the Dark Ages."

Thus far, the U.S. courts haven't made any "sharia" exception to the enforcing of U.S. law that I know of, but whether or not we are good at assimilating immigrants who practice Islam into the western view of individual and especially women's rights is a separate question.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/02/22/133974504/father-found-guilty-in-arizona-honor-killing

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99616128

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2011/02/07/2011-02-07_muzzammil_hassan_convicted_of_beheading_wife_after_only_50_minutes_of_deliberati.html

I believe that Britain & Europe have bigger problems than we do. The Archbishop of Canterbury started a controversy (or "row" if you prefer) in Britain back in 2008 when he gave some remarks about sharia law having "supplementary jurisdiction" with certain aspects of family law but was quickly forced to backpedal.

http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/1575

http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/1581

Posted by: jnc4p | February 25, 2011 2:02 PM | Report abuse

@KW:

"""Nuance is often boring, and takes time"""

So nuanced issues are not to be discussed on a major right wing "news" channel because they are "boring"? Why is intellectually-nuanced debate considered "boring"?

All you are doing is admitting that the theories I have proposed, which are not new obviously, on why Fox News behaves the way it does are accurate. Because A) to its viewers intellectual nuance is too challenging and B) because they get "bored" by intellectual debate Fox News manipulates their programming to exclude any nuance.

I appreciate your attempt at breaking it down into your preferred language, Kevin, but your analysis just confirmed my thoughts, albeit, in a round-about way.

"""The reality is that subdued, thoughtful, and inconclusive has never attracted a broad audience, unless made mandatory"""

Again. This is just an admission that because Fox News viewers don't appreciate intellectually honest dialog, like MSNBC viewers do, the executives that run Fox News go for the ratings while subverting any journalistic integrity they might otherwise favor. This is a chief complaint of the mainstream media by many in both major political parties. The MSM, as a whole, is too sensational and it is too ratings-driven. One need only look at the effect Fox News has had on CNN and even MSNBC to realize that this is clearly the case. Journalism and facts have been supplanted in favor of ratings and corporate earnings.

"""Do you feel manipulated when you do something you want to do, or buy something you want to buy, that is also advertised? If you're enjoying a movie that hits the right emotional buttons for you, do you feel manipulated? Comedy is manipulative, and, if it makes you laugh, you've just been manipulated. It's a sticky wicket."""

Wow, that is not just a red herring, it's a school of red herrings!

For one thing, I am a smart consumer. I don't buy items based on anything except what I feel is acceptable quality and performance. That includes an ethical and environmental evaluation that I do which I'm sure is not the norm in mainstream culture (although it is growing in popularity and influence). If I find a product that doesn't meet those collective standards, I don't buy it again.

As for entertainment, I mean cmon. That is the biggest crock of BS I've heard from you in a while. The topic of this conversation is NEWS MEDIA. News media = journalism. Journalism = a portrayal of the facts. Fox News is not journalism. That is the issue here. Fox News is not fact-oriented, it is sensationalism and ratings-oriented. It is financially-oriented. As a news consumer, if I find that my source is factually incorrect, I want them to correct it. The same does not happen with Fox News. Not with the viewership, not with the executives... it simply doesn't happen. And that is a major problem for an organization that calls itself a news channel.

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 25, 2011 2:02 PM | Report abuse

"Islam is as Islam does. When was the last time that a christian fundamentalist engaged in female genital mutilation or "honor killing"? How many fatwas calling for a 14 year old rape victim to recieve 100 lashes were issued by the catholic bishops in America in 2010?"

skipsailing28: Why don't we ask Dr. George Tiller about honor killings? Of course we can't because a christian wacko killed him and is accounted a hero to the rest of the theocrats. The Christians don't call for that 14 year old rape victim to be lashed, but they'll happily deny her emergency contraception and make her have the baby if she gets pregnant.

Oh, and per the US House Republicans, she wasn't actually "raped" unless force was used.

Let's not forget the Left Behind crazies who are trying to help the end of the world start so Jesus can come whisk them to heaven.

The Christian Taliban are only less extreme than the Afghanistan variety because the laws in America still have a few teeth left.

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2011 2:03 PM | Report abuse

continuing my reply to KW:

"""It's like saying, "let's talk about this, now shut up--I said zip it. Zip it!""""

You mean exactly like Fox News does it?

Essentially the motif of Fox News is:

"We are right, we are fair, there will be no debate or dissenting opinions and we will slant all programming towards a pre-arranged narrative. And if you don't like it or you disagree then shut up--I said zip it. Zip it!"

The only problem with your argument is that you CANNOT prove that the Fox News viewership is NOT racist and ignorant (because in many cases it is accurate).

And there is a TON of evidence and analysis of Fox News programming and statements and comments by executives showing that it DOES manipulate information and it DOES manipulate its readers.

Oh well. Nice try Kev. I guess you are one of the ones who are more than willing to have your news distorted to meet your ideology. It's a shame, but not surprising.

The closest you were to hitting the nail on the head, imho, was this comment:

"""Even if it is, will they admit it?"""

No, of course they won't. Neither will you.

THAT is a major problem, both for Fox News and its viewership. It's called being intellectually dishonest and, whatever the cause of that trend, it is indisputably rampant on the right.

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 25, 2011 2:08 PM | Report abuse

What is this about, which zealots are worse? How about the right wing Jews of Isreal, the Hindu zealots can be awful too (between them and the Muslims, there is a reason there are no Buddhists (except refugees) in the land of its birth). Religious zealots are all dangerous.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 25, 2011 2:10 PM | Report abuse

jnc4p: No one denies that honour killings are a problem but my objection is to the very stupid conclusion that any Western country is about to implement Islamic law a la Saudi Arabia or Iran.

There are some backward conservative relgious immigrants who keep their backward cultural traditions with them regarding control of their wives, daughters and sisters. They are not a potent political force and aside from prosecuting them when they commit these crimes, and helping any women who feel threatened to escape those situtions, what do you think anyone should do?

Sharia law in family court is another matter. Also objectionable but that's not about cutting off hands or honour killings, it's about the disbursement of assets and custody of children in divorces. Jewish religious law is similarly biased against women but I don't see fox news hyperventiliating about that.

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2011 2:10 PM | Report abuse

@Scientician "The Christian Taliban are only less extreme than the Afghanistan variety because the laws in America still have a few teeth left."

As an atheist, I don't care much for religion in any form, but you are factually wrong in making fundamentalist Christians the equivalent of the Islamists. The Islamists are exponentially more repressive and dangerous.

Recognizing this fact is not the same thing as calling for discrimination against Muslims or viewing the imposition of sharia law in the United States as a pressing emergency.

I think the outreach approach taken by the FBI and the Justice Department as discussed in Roger Cohen's op-ed in the NYT today is a much more effective way to get Muslim immigrants to buy into the American system of individual rights and democracy. (Liam, et, al, you can substitute the American System of Plutocracy here if you prefer).

Posted by: jnc4p | February 25, 2011 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Ethan:

""So nuanced issues are not to be discussed on a major right wing "news" channel because they are "boring"? Why is intellectually-nuanced debate considered "boring"?""

Because that tends to be what ratings (CSPAN vs Fox) says. That's one potential explanation, and would seem to be consistent with what you see in regards to how most channels are programmed. Compare TLC today to what TLC was 15 years ago. Sensationalism and bright, clear lines tend to sell.


""All you are doing is admitting that the theories I have proposed, which are not new obviously, on why Fox News behaves the way it does are accurate. Because A) to its viewers intellectual nuance is too challenging""

Insufficiently interesting. Most TV networks seem to accept this, as do most local newscasts, that cater to a variety of demographics. As I noted, a lot of Fox's viewership is not particularly conservative. They could be watching CSPAN, yet they aren't. Or, put another way, Fox does what it's viewers want it to do, and it's viewers cut a large swathe, so it's not just some inherent deficiency of conservatives that explains the Fox News approach.

""and B) because they get "bored" by intellectual debate Fox News manipulates their programming to exclude any nuance.""

This would include liberals and democrats, too (as they are a big part of Fox's audience). And people who go to popcorn or tentpole movies. Or watch broad comedies. That seems like an awfully self-congratulatory, isn't-it-great-we're-the-cool-kids sort of interpretation, but fair enough, I suppose.

""Wow, that is not just a red herring, it's a school of red herrings!""

I disagree, but, I suppose we'll just have to agree to disagree.

""That is the biggest crock of BS I've heard from you in a while. ""

Okay, well, it's been great dialoging with you.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

jncp4: In what way are they less extreme? Do Christian theocrats not want to ban drinking, dancing, gambling and music? Unmarried sex? Do they not love capital punishment? Expect wives to be subservient to husbands? Ban teaching accurate science that conflicts with the literalist bible interpretation?

Oh, the Islamicists will make men grow beards. I guess the Christians will still allow us to shave. So there's that.

If you're talking about what they can currently get away with, or the likelihood they'll succeed, sure the Islamicists are ahead in certain places (like Afghanistan, not France or Minnesota). As far as their goals go and the kind of laws they want to live under, I don't see very much practical difference.

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2011 2:18 PM | Report abuse

@ashot: "I think the best you can do is say Fox is missing a different perspecitve and then provide that perspective to whoever it is you are talking to."

I agree. And Fox is definitely missing a perspective. There are things I really like about Fox, though. It's a great litmus test for Democrats. Are you an awesome Democrat that I'm going to have a lot of respect for? Well, if you're president Obama, and you go on Fox and sit down for a hostile interview, I think you rock. It's hard to explain, now that I'm trying to say it, but I'd really miss Fox if it wasn't there, just for that.

If you're a politician and you boycott Fox, I'm pretty sure you're a døuche. :)

But, back to the missing perspective. I'm not a big fan of Sean Hannity, and never have been, but I never watch Hannity on general principal--because I liked Hannity and Colmes, and really liked the principal. That there's no crossfire show on Fox stinks, and it goes back to that missing perspective. I don't want Hannity--I want Hannity vs. Colmes or Hannity vs. Begala.

Frankly, I'd love to see a Crossfire style show that had a top-notch conservative and a top-notch liberal in the seat. Was never a big fan of Buchanan being "on the right". But, I digress . . .

I also take Fox in context. Fox is on the same TV on which I get 2 different CSPANs, CNN, CNN Headline News, CNBC, MSNBC, MTV, Cartoon Network, SciFi, TLC, A&E, TBS, Turner, etc., etc. There may be no news network as liberal as Fox is conservative, but it's not as if Fox has an inherent obligation to meet everybody's conception of a completely objective, neutral news network (it certainly doesn't meet mine, but neither does MSNBC or CNN, and any network that was, to me, ideally objective, would probably drop like a stone in the ratings).

I miss Air America. I would like to see MSNBC succeed as "the balance to Fox's Fair and Balanced!"

But I don't think Fox is especially manipulative, or is using Neurolinguistic Programming to brainwash people into watching it.

Except possibly for Glenn Beck.

I still watch Fox on Sundays. I like the Sunday House Call. That's about it for me.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 2:27 PM | Report abuse

"you can fool some of the people all of the time;" that would be the loyal fox news viewers. "don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up" - that would be the loyal fox news viewers. "sir, you are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own set of facts," that would be the loyal fox news viewers who now have their own set of facts, history, founding fathers and constitution. the saddest thing of all is how fox news sets the news agenda for all the rest of what is now the msm.

Posted by: sbvpav | February 25, 2011 2:31 PM | Report abuse

"""Compare TLC today to what TLC was 15 years ago. Sensationalism and bright, clear lines tend to sell."""

BS.

A little sensationalism to boost ratings -- wrapped around high-quality programming -- is one thing. Fox is ALL sensationalism ALL the time. Totally different. It's like comparing WWE wrestling with real olympic wrestling. In the former, it's a business that scripts its contests to entertain people and make money. In the former, it's a sport to entertain people with real competition. That is the perfect analogy for Fox News. Fox News is the WWE wrestling of news channel, in that it is scripted and fake, but it exists in a world that innately has to deal with nuance and dialog oftentimes on serious issues with serious implications. That Fox News NEVER addresses serious issues in a serious manner, and ONLY uses scripted schlock and sensationalism, disqualifies them from being considered actual news.

"""Insufficiently interesting"""

But being lied to. That's sufficiently interesting? Apparently it is, but only to the slice of the American population that either is willing to mentally subvert the factual "wrongness" of Fox News propaganda or that watches Fox News in passing and doesn't take the time to figure out that it is fraudulent. In either case, the viewership IS being manipulated and that speaks to the moral depravity of a corporation that is essentially scamming its consumers.

"""Okay, well, it's been great dialoging with you."""

Yeah, well, the way to prove me wrong is to convince me that I'm wrong with reasoned dialog and/or facts. The garbage about entertainment products being manipulative is so indisputably far from a cogent argument on the topic of news manipulation that you deserved the response I gave.

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 25, 2011 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I would think honor killings make Sharia exceedingly less likely to gain footholds outside places like Iran. It seems to me more subtle threats to liberty are more dangerous. Afterall, I doubt honor kilings are going to be legalized anytime soon here.
However, a more likely threat to liberty would be passing laws that make require baby daddies or parents/guardians to provide consent before an abortion can be performed and requiring certain pamphlets be passed out prior to an abortion, then passing a law requiring an ultrasound be performed, then requiring the ultrasound to be a specific type of ultrasound, then letting Catholic Hospitals refrain from performing abortions for women who may otherwise die....

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 25, 2011 2:33 PM | Report abuse

@Ethan: "Yeah, well, the way to prove me wrong is to convince me that I'm wrong with reasoned dialog and/or facts. The garbage about entertainment products being manipulative is so indisputably far from a cogent argument on the topic of news manipulation that you deserved the response I gave."

I wasn't trying to convince you you were wrong, I was trying to answer your question, which I was dubious about doing, but . . . the question part sounded sincere, at least.

I think maybe I'm just not able to answer your questions without it getting contentious. Sorry!

Hopefully, someone else will give you some better answers than I did.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 2:44 PM | Report abuse

If you're a politician and you boycott Fox, I'm pretty sure you're a døuche. :)

------------------------------------------
Same with a politician who will only appear on Fox, although I suppose that sort of implied in your comment.

What surpises me is how few people seem care that so many of our politicians do nothing but answer softball questions.

I end up getting into a chicken and egg type debate because I want to blame the media for the above a) b/c they ask the softball questions (although that's not always true) b) b/c in any given interview they'll pick the one largely irrelevant but juicy answer to focus on rather than twenty boring, but substantive answers. At the same time do they engage in these behaviors because that is what is popular and gets ratings?

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 25, 2011 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Kevin wrote: When you're trying to open up people's eyes to how they are being manipulated--even if true--you have a hard row to hoe. You're essentially wanting to tell them, "Look, you don't think for yourself. Your beliefs are being programmed into you by a TV station, and you're just not smart enough to understand that."

I think there's a lot of truth in that. That's a perfect way to get people to dig in with their positions. It stops being about the facts in question and makes them defend their independence of thought and intelligence. And nobody is very persuadable under those circumstances.

Posted by: AllButCertain | February 25, 2011 2:52 PM | Report abuse

That's a perfect way to get people to dig in with their positions. It stops being about the facts in question and makes them defend their independence of thought and intelligence. And nobody is very persuadable under those circumstances.
-----------------------------------

I read a facebook comment thread about the WI union issue and one poster's first comment was something like "if people really knew what was in the bill, their conclusions would be different." Which is fantastic because it implies he knows what is in the bill and came to the "right" conclusion, that others don't know what's in the bill (ie he knows more than them) and if only they did, they would agree with him.
Not that I'm right on this issue (or that one can be right on this issue), but you can't even get a person like that to listen to your perspective.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 25, 2011 3:02 PM | Report abuse

"""It stops being about the facts in question and makes them defend their independence of thought and intelligence"""

That's all well and good, but if there is a matter of racial or religious or ethnic prejudice, those are serious issues that should be discussed.

The fact that the right absolutely REFUSES to discuss race issues in a civil manner speaks volumes about what actually does motivate them (ahem prejudice).

You will never see a discussion on race that goes like this:

---

Leftie: "I think Fox News panders to racists."

Rightie: No it doesn't. Here is an analysis of their stories that shows they don't exhibit any prejudice in the types of articles they cover.

---

Whether that's because the facts show that they DO frequently air stories that are based on racial prejudice (NBPP) or because the Right just doesn't do factualy analysis of the media is anybody's guess.

In fact, I'd be interested to know... Kevin, have you ever seen an analysis of Fox News reporting from a right wing perspective? Have you ever seen an analysis of Fox News programming that shows a deeper understanding of what, empirically, Fox News actually airs? That would be very interesting to see.

Because I have seen plenty of analysis of Fox News programming and every single time they show, conclusively, that Fox News manipulates its programming to cater to people who prescribe to some sort of prejudice. Anything out there that shows anything contrary to that? If so, I'd like to see it.

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 25, 2011 3:03 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me that Kevin and r&r are talking about different things: why people watch Fox News and why Fox gets away with being so irresponsible.

I think the first question needs to be answered before there's a chance of really answering the second one though if Bernie were here, he'd probably go big and talk about the unholy alliances among the rich and powerful that allow Fox to be what it is. But why there's an audience for efforts at manipulation is still something to weigh.

Posted by: AllButCertain | February 25, 2011 3:06 PM | Report abuse

"""It seems to me that Kevin and r&r are talking about different things: why people watch Fox News and why Fox gets away with being so irresponsible."""

Great point.

I think that #1 is pretty clear.

People who watch Fox News are either 1) looking for confirmation of their prejudiced (politically, racially, ethnically, religiously or a combo of the above) views or 2) they are merely "passing by" and don't take news or politics that seriously.

I think #2 is the harder question to answer.

I think part of the problem is that the channel itself is called "NEWS" and yet it has news and opinion programming. While policing content may be too difficult and/or politically contentious, perhaps the FCC can institute a regulation saying that to call a channel or a show "NEWS" it must be strictly hard news and no opinion. I would be perfectly content with that. That would eliminate Fox News' and CNN's abilities to inject opinion into hard news coverage. Since MSNBC doesn't pretend to be a "news" channel, they could remain more or less the same, as could the majority of MSM news shows that cover hard news.

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 25, 2011 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I also think Fox is so solidly identified as Conservative that it's where people who only casually follow politics go when they want a Conservative viewpoint even if they don't agree with all or even much of it. I think it's less clear where the casual follower will go for the Liberal point of view. But everyone knows you can go to Fox to get the Conservative view. I think the demographic most likely to watch the news on TV probably identifies themself as conservative.
Me? I don't watch the news on TV. Unless the Daily Show counts and even that I just Tivo and watch occasionally.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 25, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse

@ashot: "Same with a politician who will only appear on Fox, although I suppose that sort of implied in your comment. "

Well, specifically, if you're invited on MSNBC and you're a politician and you don't go because you have to control the narrative . . . then, yup. That's very döuchey. I may give you a few bonus points (agreeing with me on issues is always a plus, and entitles you to special consideration), but if you are unwilling to face a challenging or hostile audience . . . many points must be deducted. If you're serious about your viewpoint, and you want to advance it, and you're conservative--don't go on Fox. Go on MSNBC. If you're so smart, take 'em to school.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse

@ashot: "they would agree with him.
Not that I'm right on this issue (or that one can be right on this issue), but you can't even get a person like that to listen to your perspective."

And rarely (in my experience) do they have anything interesting to say about the issue. Why not pick something counter-intuitive and walk us through it? "Some people may think X will cost more money but actually without X we have to pay Y which, when added to Z, costs us more than just paying for X in the first place. Plus, X is an awesome letter."

I've been turned around by thoughtful deconstructions of actual issues several times. "Oh, if only you were as smart as me" has never changed my mind. About anything. And when I hear that kind of argument from someone I agree with on the substance, it's like fingernails on the chalkboard. •Nooooooooo . . . •

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2011 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Good Grief Battleground 51, et al. If you believe what you see and hear on Fox News, you are STUPID!

Posted by: diannemagill | February 25, 2011 4:12 PM | Report abuse

@Scientician "jncp4: In what way are they less extreme? Do Christian theocrats not want to ban drinking, dancing, gambling and music? Unmarried sex? Do they not love capital punishment? Expect wives to be subservient to husbands? Ban teaching accurate science that conflicts with the literalist bible interpretation?

Oh, the Islamicists will make men grow beards. I guess the Christians will still allow us to shave. So there's that.

If you're talking about what they can currently get away with, or the likelihood they'll succeed, sure the Islamicists are ahead in certain places (like Afghanistan, not France or Minnesota). As far as their goals go and the kind of laws they want to live under, I don't see very much practical difference."

Female genital mutilation.

For a more practical application, go live in the most Islamist country in the world and then compare it to living in the most Christian country in the world and see if you can discern a difference.

Posted by: jnc4p | February 25, 2011 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I never said this:
"...Western country is about to implement Islamic law a la Saudi Arabia or Iran."

this is just the science guy filling in the blanks to suit his "argument".

My points remain:

Islam is as Islam does.

Sharia is a direct threat to our liberty.


What I've seen thus far in response is sophistry.

Yes, let's talk about the killing of the abortionist. What happened to the killer? What happens in a Muslim dominated country when a man does an honor killing? Are they tried in a secular court? I hardly think so.

Again, I understand the need that liberals have to defend Islam. But this is just a sorry example of the muslim slide off.

I never said that America was perfect and that no tragedy ever occurs here. What I did say was:
Islam is as Islam does
Sharia is a direct threat to our liberty.

and yes, christians, the devout, grounded ones anyway, view life as sacred. Including life in the womb. your using just another bad muslim slide off. You can't defend Islam, so you try to cajole me into defending christianity. I've been down this road with too many defenders of Islam to fall for that rhetorical trick. Basically you seek to change the subject.

Your argument can be summed up this way "Well, well, those christians aren't perfect either!!'

yeah, so? Christianity is as christianity does too. You are as you do. I am as I do.

See how simple that is?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 25, 2011 4:45 PM | Report abuse

"Islam is as Islam does."

How profound and meaningful.

"Sharia is a direct threat to our liberty."

In what sense? In the sense that it might be implemented here anytime soon? If that's what you mean I disagree. In the sense that we wouldn't enjoy liberties we currently have if we were under Sharia law? If so, then I agree, although that's not a particularly profound insight.


"What I've seen thus far in response is sophistry."

That's great, then you don't even have to respond to what people are actually saying. Works out well for you. Why not just say, "I win" and be done with it?

I brought up the abortion issue not to begin a debate about abortion, but to bring up an example of how incremental erosion is more likely and probably more dangerous. Abortion is a recongized right at the moment so it seems to be a fair example even if you happen to think it shouldn't be a right. Feel free to substitute any example where the left has done this.

Although your goal appears to be preventing Sharia law from coming to the US so I suppose bringing up shocking examples is probably a good way to accomplish that goal.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 25, 2011 4:59 PM | Report abuse

The chances of Sharia law being imposed in the U.S. is about the same as the Comanches taking over and riding the plains. In fact, there might just be more Comanches than Muslims. Haven't we enough real problems without inventing some?

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | February 25, 2011 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Sharia is anathema to our society.

Actually I think that America is doing a better job of assimilating muslims than the Euro's. And I know this will appall you but a lot of what our grandparents and parents went through was part of the assimilation process.

the personal discrimination (no irish need apply) the bigoted jokes (how many pollacks does it take...) the name calling (from firesign theatre: Its micks and wops and gooks and chinks and honkies, beep beep, who nevah left da farm) were motivations to become like everyone else in society. Just to make all that stop.

coddling the muslims, or any other immigrant group won't help them assimilate.

I have a couple of goals:
(1) get home in the snow and drink a glass of champagne with my beautiful but ill wife.
(2) Describe Islam in stark terms so that we see it as it is is, good, bad and ugly. Just as I think we should view ourselves.
(3) Debate the nature of the threat that Islam is to America.

I used the term sophistry because that's what it is. I also used the phrase "slide off" because that's what he tried.

The anti abortion folks believe in this kind of incrementalism because right now a reversal of roeVwade doesn't seem to be in the offing. Since they cannot have the whole enchilada, they are nibbling away at it, and with great effect to. The number of abortions continues to decline but the tragedy remains.

Will the sharia favoring folks do the same? My hope is that we will have done a good enough job of assimilating the muslims here that they will not support an imposition of the kind of rules that made the country they fled a third world toilet.

I am very interested in what is going on in the middle east right now and I see it as a vindication of Bush's freedom approach.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 25, 2011 5:19 PM | Report abuse

@ronnieandrush "I think part of the problem is that the channel itself is called "NEWS" and yet it has news and opinion programming. While policing content may be too difficult and/or politically contentious, perhaps the FCC can institute a regulation saying that to call a channel or a show "NEWS" it must be strictly hard news and no opinion. I would be perfectly content with that. That would eliminate Fox News' and CNN's abilities to inject opinion into hard news coverage. Since MSNBC doesn't pretend to be a "news" channel, they could remain more or less the same, as could the majority of MSM news shows that cover hard news."

So would you be in favor of licensing journalists the way that lawyers, doctors, stock brokers and other professions are licensed?

Posted by: jnc4p | February 25, 2011 5:23 PM | Report abuse

"So would you be in favor of licensing journalists the way that lawyers, doctors, stock brokers and other professions are licensed?"

That's not what I am saying, but I don't necessarily think it's such a bad idea.

I'm specifically talking about the fact that corporations are branding their channels and/or shows as being "news" when they are not 100% hard news. I think THAT should be against the law.

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 25, 2011 5:53 PM | Report abuse

This is interesting:

"Increasingly, the private interests who design and control our 21st century information infrastructure resemble those who seized the master switch of the last century’s communications networks." Furthermore, he argues that though there may be many more platforms both on TV and online, the news itself is coming from fewer sources.

In his remarks, Copps paints a grim picture of today's media. He notes that more than half of the 50 states have no full-time reporter covering Capitol Hill. He cites a study by the USC Annenberg School of Communication & Journalism's Norman Lear Center showing that the average 30-minute local news broadcast has less than 30 seconds devoted to local government news. (The research was focused on Los Angeles news broadcasts.)

"If it bleeds it leads, but if it’s democracy’s lifeblood, let it hemorrhage," Copps cracks.

The FCC has oversight over local TV and radio stations but not the broadcast or cable networks. Local stations get licenses from the commission to operate. Copps wants to toughen up the renewal process, which he says today is a "slam-dunk, no-questions-asked" procedure.

Copps wants stations to commit to covering more debates and issues-oriented programming during election years. He also wants stations to be more in touch with the communities they serve.

Writes Copps: "Nowadays, when stations are so often owned by mega companies and absentee owners hundreds or even thousands of miles away — frequently by private equity firms totally unschooled in public interest media — we no longer ask licensees to take the public pulse. Diversity of programming suffers, minorities are ignored, and local self-expression becomes the exception."

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2010/12/media-is-in-hour-of-grave-peril-says-top-government-regulator-.html

I couldn't agree more with him.

I'm sure the right wing press has staked him out as a commie fascist or something insane like that.

Posted by: ronnieandrush | February 25, 2011 5:56 PM | Report abuse


It is fantastic time to refinance home mortgage. As Clark Howard says it is very tough to find these low rates for long time. Search online for 123 Mortgage Refi they found me THE lowest possible rate.

Posted by: alexiskeegan | February 26, 2011 3:06 AM | Report abuse


To imagine Anjem Choudary representing ALL Muslims is as nonsensical as assuming Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church representing ALL Christians!!!

Posted by: omida | February 26, 2011 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Fox News exists because Rupert Murdoch became a US citizen to avoid laws requiring broadcast companies to be American-owned. He has since sold a chunk of it to the Saudis. And Murdoch has been given exemptions from laws banning ownership of a newspaper and TV station in the same city..laws that the government has forced other broadcasters to comply with. While owning Channel 5 in New York City, Murdoch has not only been allowed to repurchase the New York Post, but was approved to buy the Wall Street Journal, a SECOND New York City-based paper.

Posted by: Provasek | February 27, 2011 7:40 AM | Report abuse

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