Fox News’ ratings are up again this month.
Not just up, but through the roof. Something I reveal, not with any sense of delight, by the way. Quite the reverse: it’s out of utter despair.
That close to three and a half million Americans simply don’t have the confidence or the mental capacity to turn away from this monster and shun it; that they don’t grasp how much they’re being exploited and manipulated by a band of savvy, cynical bullies so very adept by this stage at triggering a Pavlovian response from the unthinking masses; and that they don’t have the wherewithal to see what the rest of us see: that the Republican Party is the ventriloqust, Fox News is the dummy, and anyone who watches it without laughing at the audacity of this sham, unfair, unbalanced “news” operation is an even bigger dummy – well, understandably, that’s a source of massive angst to me, as it is to anyone with an IQ in more than double digits.
Whenever I happen to catch Bill O’Reilly smiling his lizard smile, spouting what to me is the opposite of the truth – “The spin stops here” being just one example – and selling his line of trinkets and books to the pinheads at home; or when I see the monstrously awful, posturing Glenn Beck going through his phony clown routine; or Sean Hannity, or any of the other celebrity puppets on there, for that matter, slanting the truth the way they do, cherry-picking their fights to favor and embolden the right, demonizing the good, ambushing interviewees in the street, verbally tarring and feathering their critics, pumping the acid of anxiety into people’s veins, dangling the carrots of neverending distress and danger and doom before a public either not bright enough or not switched on enough to see when they’re being had, it’s hard not to feel sad for America. Sad and alarmed, actually.
That it all came to this, I hear friends lament. Centuries of struggle, riots, marches, intelligent discourse, caring, concerned people laying down their lives for freedom, generation after generation proudly standing on each other’s shoulders, striving to reach a higher standard, a bigger dream, a further star – and after all of that, this, Fox News, is what we ended up with.
If you doubt what I’m saying, try watching BBC News sometime. Its objectivity and lust for facts and honest information will blow your socks off.
Take Fox‘s attempts this week to spark a volcano of unrest under the conservative base by enraging them into supporting those embarrassing tea-bagging rallies.
It was a fairground attraction, of course, a bid for ratings. Waves of wrath were supposed to be unleashed. Ordinary dopes across the country were duped into braving the pouring rain in utter outrage at the Democrats’ plan to raise taxes, seemingly unaware in their blind eagerness to stand up and be counted that, since every last one of them was earning less than $250,000 a year, their taxes would actually be coming down. Oops.
A million tea-bags dumped in a Washington park – only, someone forgot to apply for a permit, so they couldn’t be. Oops.
Glenn Beck trying to start a revolution at the Alamo. It’s Glenn Beck – so it’s always an oops.
Neil Cavuto caught in an off-camera moment saying that the rally he was at had five thousand attendees, then going on TV immediately afterwards and telling his audience that there were three times that number standing behind him. Big oops.
Bah, humbug. Really.
Yet, all across America, tiny pockets of ignorati responded to the slow drum-beat of Fox News’s formularized tubthumping by engaging in this newly invented ritual of tea-bagging.
Tea-bagging, tea-bagging, tea-bagging – it’s all we’ve heard for days.
Meanwhile their rivals CNN and MSNBC, as astonished as the rest of us that such an idiotic movement could have gained any traction at all, felt compelled to quit skulking in their respective corners and actually tell the truth.
They showed, with relish, the meager number of attendees at those rallies.
They ridiculed, albeit in sober ways, the very idea that anyone would fritter even an ounce of energy or a valuable second of their life in these modern times trying to convince voters at the dimmer end of the spectrum in such states as Texas, Oklahoma, and Alaska, that seceding from the Union is a viable idea.
They pointed out that whoever threw a box of tea bags onto the White House lawn was a moron, and should have seen that they would be viewed as a potential terrorist.
Above all, they took care to remind their audience, subtly of course, what tea-bagging actually is: a slang term for dunking your balls in someone’s mouth like a teabag and letting them slide in and out of the lips, a move designed to induce pleasure in both sucker and suckee.
What’s odd to me, and to many others, I suspect, is that these latter broadcasters, the ones who are less frenetic, more grown-up, more cagey about lavishing invective and superlatives on obviously trumped-up garbage – more BBC-ish, in fact, in that they actually try to deliver the news rather than promising to, then doing something else entirely – have far lower ratings, relatively speaking.
If Bill O’Reilly clocks up three and a half million viewers, say, then Anderson Cooper (whom I don’t like either, incidentally, but for a whole bunch of other reasons), grabs a straight million. Give or take. Now, a million people is a lot. But not when you consider that The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, a real news show masquerading as a fake news show, beats him by almost eight hundred thousand viewers. In fact, very many Americans – my friends included – get the bulk of their news from The Daily Show.
None of which is terribly encouraging.
But it’s the same old story. Cheap sensationalism wins. Loud sideshows draw a crowd. As I’m prone to saying, dim people love color and movement and noise and explosions. And I guess I can add to that list Fox News.
Intelligent people, on the other hand, tend to be dismissive and let it go. They’re simply too busy enjoying their lives, doing interesting things, getting educated, contributing to society, traveling, exploring, feeding their curiosity and their brains, to waste a single moment on jackboot journalism and those who engage in it.
Fox News gets two magic carpets out of five.
TV Swami – he say NO.