Sunday, June 24, 2012

How Fox News is Killing the Republican Party And Other Things I Have No Business Talking About.

John 8:32: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  

This was going to be my next GQ Anarchy Diaries Blog, but I decided that it be best if I didn’t run it through their site and kept it free of the show. 

I love what I do and I work very hard to deliver a good product.  I get tremendous satisfaction every time I complete an episode.  But beyond the creative and financial reward, I also look at my job as service.  SOA employs hundred of people and we entertain millions.  That’s the real payday for me.  In it’s that vein of service that I deliver this blog.  What follows is a controlled diatribe about an issue that’s been chewing away at me for years now.  And I know my half-bright assertions will hardly have an impact, but it’s something I need to unload.  

Just a warning, if you're a grizzly mom who loves Sons of Anarchy, you may wanna have a cocktail before you read on.

My angst was triggered recently when I heard an NPR show discussing the dangers of spin and fact fabrication.  They quoted a recent survey that showed over 60% of Republicans still believe Barack Obama isn’t a US citizen and that some 40% think Bill Clinton was responsible for 911.  I listened as both left and right commentators discussed the fallout of our current state of misinformation.  I dwelled on this for the remainder of my traffic-snarled, 405 clusterfuck commute.  It really struck a personal chord in me. 

As you all know, I’m constantly berating cuntbloggers for wrapping a story in manipulated, singular stands of truth.  It’s all about the headline and the site hits.  Journalism and truth are no longer goals or guidelines.  For me, the impact is a biased reputation: I’m perceived as an arrogant, defiant, hotheaded, foul-mouthed hater.  Now, I’m not saying that I don’t possess those qualities, surely I do.  But if the lazy cunts perpetuating that image actually read the lion-share of my social media -- tweets, blogs, vids, interviews, etc. -- they’d see that I’m actually a few shades lighter and dare I say, maybe a bit more complex.

Now I know my little social media freakshow is minutia compared to the bigger issue that my title suggests.  But I lead with it as context.  Because a much larger, more dangerous version of this is happening in this country.  We have a major political party that is slowly retarding because of the onslaught of misinformation.  The stutter-step has nothing to do with intelligence; surveys suggest conservatives are better educated and have a higher IQ than liberals.  Republicans are falling behind because they are starving for truth.  Wisdom feeds on empirical data; facts propel us into the next right action.  But regrettably, the most prominent source of news for Republicans no longer recognizes truth.  Whatsoever.

I respect journalists tremendously and I know Fox News probably employs some brilliant men and women.  But not unlike the cuntbloggers that beleaguer me, Fox New’s agenda has clearly become more important than the truth.  Opinions are good -- right, left, center, we all have them and passionate points of view fuel discussion that moves issues forward.  But that discussion only works if opinions are based on truth.  There can be nothing subjective about empirical data.  Truth is truth. 

Over time, Fox New has adopted a philosophy that only uses empirical data when it supports their agenda.  If it doesn’t, the truth is either manipulated, ignored, or blatantly turned inside out to represent something it’s not.  And yet the result of this shell game continues to bring viewers to the channel.  Why?  The same reason the choir fills up to hear their favorite preacher.  It gives them comfort to think that what they believe is always right.  It’s easier, it’s highly consumable and at the end of a hard day’s work, it doesn’t require the energy of examination. 

Unfortunately, I believe this fast-food unformation is already backfiring on the Republican Party.  The adage “the truth will set you free” is not only a biblical lesson; it’s the core need of our human nature.  We need truth to evolve.  It’s the basic building block in all our relationships -- with God, spouses, children, friends, employers, everyone.  Without honesty we die inside.  We can exist in nontruth, but we cannot grow.  Now that might sound like ethereal, psychobabble bullshit, but it’s not.  It’s pretty fucking simple.  Lies kill us.   

FYI: That’s what Sons of Anarchy is all about.

Fox News is not only preaching to the lowest common denominator, they are in fact, creating it.  And the peers of its viewers, who chose to get their news from other sources, are passing them by as they slide backwards in comforting ignorance. 

Now I know every news source has an agenda.  MSNBC and CNN are seen as liberal media.  And I guess that’s true, they do lean left.  But there is nothing wrong with a slant -- liberal or conservative -- as long as you’re leaning on fact.  MSNBC and CNN don’t twist empirical data the way Fox News does.  They, at least presently, still lead with truth before they lay their sway. 

I’m pretty certain that Republicans didn’t ask for Fox News.  But they have obviously embraced and supported it’s point-of-view.  So now, the two are intrinsically tied.  Hannity, O’Reilly and their ilk are seen as the media extensions of the RNC.  And although we are now seeing a portion of the conservative base try to distance themselves from this nearly-absurd bias, the damage is already done.  And getting the rising tide of the rhetorical buzzfest to recede will be a hard-pressed task.  Obama’s re-election in 2012 will begin to paint a very clear picture of this.  The president will win significantly because any potential voters who are on the fence -- the ones that determine victories -- will fall into his camp.  Why?  Because no one believes the Republican message.  

I realize this is potentially a damaging blog post for me.  I work for Fox and I know a large percentage of my SOA audience are middle-America conservatives who watch Fox News.  They get very upset when “tattooed TV boy” goes political.  But I take the risk because I’m truly worried for these people, who do indeed represent the core of our country.  I respect their opinions and their philosophical beliefs.  I just want them to be treated fairly.  I’m tired of them being lied to night after night, issue after issue.  The breaking point is near and it's gonna be fucking messy. 

Yes, you can dismiss me as a rich, manipulative, loud-mouthed Hollywood elitist.  But the truth is, there’s a much louder, much richer, much more manipulative Hollywood elitist you should be dismissing.  And you’re watching the “fair & balanced” broadcast at five and eleven every night.   

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