I remember the moment I realized Fox News was drivel. It was not like I had an immediate epiphany. It was a sentiment that had been building for the last few years. Time after time, I saw Fox acting less and less like a news network and more and more like an attention grabbing, sensationalizing, ratings machine. I was seeing more shoddy and unethical journalism from them than I was seeing from most Tabloid TV shows. This is not even touching on the obvious conservative bias. It’s one thing to have a bias, but it’s another thing to claim to be fair while doing it. CNN was looking better and batter, especially since they looked like they were taking an effort not to have a bias, even if they were not succeeding as well as they could. That being said, even if they do look like they are treating Republicans worse than Democrats, let’s face it, some Republicans have deserved every moment of negative press because of their behavior since Obama has been elected. It did seem that a whole lot of the positive stories about conservatives on Fox looked pretty forced (almost as much as some of the negative stories about Democrats).
However, Despite my growing reservations, I was still watching Fox more than any other news network because, well, that was what Republicans like me did. It had always been an assumption that all square inch of media on the outside was tainted with liberalism, and Fox was the only safe haven. Sensationalism can easily be ignored when a station is giving conservatives a chance to get their point across in a very hostile environment. However, this thinking quickly changed when I was watching the Michael Jackson funeral. I had my moment of clarity.
I was switching channels to see how each of the news networks were covering the funeral. While I think Michael Jackson was by no definition a saint, his funeral at least deserved to be treated like an event. At the same time, the man needed to be treated with respect during that time. The only network I saw that did not follow through on this was Fox News. They did not go five minutes without discussing Jackson’s legal troubles and the tabloid-worthy details of his death. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back in that a switch seemed to turn on in my brain. I finally saw this network for what it was, and I turned off Fox for good. It also allowed my cognitive dissonance to dissolve and help me realize that I had been buying into the victim mentality that has become like a disease among Americans, and have been using Fox as a rallying cry without realizing they were just using me to get ratings. I also forgot that there is a very good sampling of newspapers and radio hosts that have a conservative bias, so Fox is by no means the lone voice. However, despite this, the truth does remain that conservatives seem to be getting a bad rap in the media.
The reason for this, I came to realize, was not that the media was censoring conservative voices, but that conservatives were offering nothing people wanted to hear. As a registered Republican myself, this is hard for me to admit, but it is healthy as well. However, instead of taking the plunge and admitting this hard fact, many conservatives are living in denial. They are using every concievable chink in Obama’s armor as a comfort, and are looking to Fox for the next rallying cry to why the are only oppressed because they are right. Not only are they looking to Fox, but they are looking to commentators on Fox, all of which come from the fringe of the party and make rational people like me cringe. From my psychology studies, I have learned that staying in denial is probably one of the biggest obstacles to real and lasting change. Once conservatives as a whole start admitting they are doing the wrong things, then they will be able to move on and make real and lasting change within the party. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen anytime soon, particularly when they continue to hail a hackneyed station such as Fox News to be “real news,” and Obama to be the new Lenin.
The saddest thing to me is that many Christian are buying into this as well. They should be the ones harking against Fox news most of all, and yet more evangelicals watch it than any other demographic. What a sad state of affairs we are in. I had had a different revelation a few years ago that told me no particular party has the monopoly on morals. After the 2008 election, I was hoping that Christians were beginning to realize that, particularly after so many Christians voted for Obama. However, based on some of the polls I am looking at and the Christians I am talking to, this is not the case. Personally, I am a Republican for more political reasons than moral ones. I am a horrible cynic when it comes to the government doing the will of God, so I gave up on that and ended up choosing the side where the government is more motivated not to bankrupt it’s people (Bush did sway my faith in this, but most other conservatives help keep it afloat). However, I am sickened by the whole Republican = patriot phase we went through. I was even more sickened by the Christian = patriot movement. Fox News fed this by not only having a good amount of their hateful conservative commentators proclaim faith, but to have their main colors be red, white and blue. The Christianity of the commentators attracted the Christians who felt ignored by the media at large (for the same reason that conservatives did), and helped create a monster. It is not the only and first offender, but considering a good amount of Christians I know listen to people like Sean Hannity religiously (not to mention a good amount of these people’s books can be found in Christian book stores) it appears to be the most widespread, and the most problematic.
I had the false impression that this attitude was beginning to die out, but most of the hatred I see coming from the Christian community is directed at people like me who dare to think outside the box of what their pastors and families tell them and start looking at the words of Jesus. At the same time, we look to people outside of our faith for wisdom; whether it be musical artists or evolutionary scientists. At my Christian university, the Democrats, evolutionists, and other free thinkers were pretty much cast out of the debate. Believing in evolution did give me a taste, but I felt pretty bad for the folks who ascribed to five or six of the imagined taboos of American Christianity. The us vs. them mentality driven by Fox and perpetuated by power-hungry morons have wrecked havoc on the Christians community and I believe we are only just now starting to realize that. However, those who do not are still the loudest and are the only thing standing in the way of us rising from the ashes and being a Christ-like faith.
Looking back at conservatism, I see a similar damage done. The only problem is that, unlike many Christians, we are unwilling to admit it. When a commentator on CNN says Republicans need an overhaul, hard-line conservatives guffaw about liberal bias and change the channel to Fox News. Like I said before, this is a classic example of denial and it has to stop.
I am going to go into counselor mode and devise a mental checklist for conservatives to go through so they can make their way back to health.
First, they need to admit they have a problem as a cohesive body. I know that several Republicans are admitting this on their own, but they seem like they are being forced. Come together and say it. It won’t kill you.
Second, they need to part ways with the friends that are only feeding into their neurosis. Fox News is the lead contender. Fire and brimstone Christian preachers would probably be a second. Rush Limbaugh the third. I’m sure several other conservative readers can come up with several more.
Third, we need to make peace with our enemies, and approach with a listening ear. Yes, people. I am talking about Obama. The first step to this would be to stop acting like five-year-olds and picking at every little thing he does. I get it, they picked on Bush a lot. GET OVER IT!! If you got past step one, you should have already admitted that Bush deserved a lot of the respectful scrutiny he got. Be the better person in this situation. You will get a lot more done.
Fourth step would be to look to the future. Yes, you CAN be progressive and be a Republican at the same time.
I have one final point to address and I will shut up. Whenever I display my hatred of Fox News to conservatives, they seem to stop that conversation with a “that’s just your opinion.” To me whenever someone says that, particularly with this issue, it is simply a nice way of saying, “Wow, not only are you a moron, but you have been hypnotized by the liberal media. We need to stop talking now so I don’t become saddened by your betrayal of your conservative brethren.” True, it might be my opinion. Or maybe not. Conservatives having problems and Fox News being journalism at it’s worst is pretty much a consensus by people who are either experts or have no bias to speak of. To me, this constitutes a fact. Facts are facts, no matter which way you slice it. It’s one thing to have an opinion, but it’s another thing to ignore what’s right in front of your face. The sooner we stop accepting this shoddy excuse for a news station, we can finally get it out of the way and make room for fair and honest reporting. Just like the sooner Republicans accept they have issues, the sooner the party will be made great again.