Why I Watch Fox News

I was asked by a few college friends how I am able to watch Fox News so religiously. I responded, “It takes gumption,” but I’m afraid the true answer takes more explanation.

Both friends referred to Fox News as “Faux” News, which is clever, but herein we also find part of my rationale: most every scholar or professor with whom I communicate will not watch Fox News…at all…period…thank you very much, and have a swell day!

I do not blame my academic friends. It becomes a masochistic exercise at times. I often find myself launching from the couch to shout angrily—blood pressure up, veins popping out of my neck, spittle flying out of my mouth—at a projection of a person on a television screen that cannot hear me.

My experience has taught me that the ratio of Fox News viewers versus academics whom censor Fox News is around 3 to 1…about the same as the Nielson ratings prove night after night. Frankly, we are out-numbered. Many American citizens buy the self-proclaimed edict of “Fair and Balanced” found in the Fox News letterhead, and it’s not just senior citizens watching, as many liberals presume. So many students in my classes attack me with Fox News-supplied arguments, so many family members will watch Fox News and nothing else, so many friends with whom I have conversed will attack all other media networks as overwhelmingly liberal, so many acquaintances will leap readily into my conversations to defend their muse…so many people get rather agitated if I even suggest that Fox News might be wrong about anything.

As someone trained in rhetorical fallacy, it is apparent that Fox News revels in the use of post-hoc-ergo-proptor-hoc, ad hominem, hasty generalization, circular reasoning, begging the question, and red herring rhetorical devices. I recognize that Fox News leans more to propaganda than journalistic integrity, but I don’t think most people understand that many of the Fox News arguments do not hold water. Using mathematical, logical inductive/deductive analysis, we can safely designate many of their arguments as invalid. Using common sense, we can plainly see more juvenile, school-yard appropriate argument in the form of non-constructive name-calling, intrusive belligerence, wild accusations, malicious insults, and broad ridicule. What seems to happen in reality: the sheer number of Fox News viewers ingests the bullshit, they walk among the rest of us, and the masses repeat what they hear as fact to the minority, drowning out resistance because enough Fox News viewers told them what to say (creating ad populum fallacy!).

Fox News sells itself as the only 24/7 news network that stands up for the little guy and portrays the true conservative perspective. As someone who still leans conservative with his financial (not social) ideologies, I would sincerely enjoy a news network that utilizes good conservative principles appropriately. I’d like a much better conservative news network than Fox News has ever pretended to be. I’d suggest monopolies need to be broken up, and an alternative conservative 24-hour-seven-days-a-week news network might be warranted. Most Fox News viewers find this idea offensive…because Fox News programs have trained them to respond this way: “Of course we need Fox News! If Fox News wasn’t there, then the liberal media would win…and our country would descend into apocalyptic, socialist nightmare! Thank God for Fox News.”

Ignoring Fox News seems too dangerous. I watch Fox News to try to understand how their message can become so pervasive in my community. I find too many people who are receptive to the arguments of Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Mike Huckabee, Eric Bolling, and the like. It seems as if Roger Ailes has managed to brainwash half of America. As an academic, I’ll be damned if I just ignore this network’s intrusive propaganda. I will not accept Fox News as a necessary evil. I will not just cover my eyes and ears, singing, “La. La. La. La. La. La. I’m not listening! La. La. La. La. La.”

I do learn quite a bit about America while making Fox News a part of my daily news consumption. Rachel Maddow asked a pertinent question on her program just last night that might be answered by watching Fox News programs. Maddow (for whom most Fox News viewers unload the most venom) led her show with the horrifying hate crime that occurred this past weekend in Kansas. The killer is a radical white supremacist who shares history with other conspiracy enthusiasts whom regularly consume a massive amount of available right-wing propaganda. She connected this killer with the Tsarnaev brothers, who performed the horrific Boston Marathon bombing a year ago. These brothers, likely Islamic jihadists, possessed quite a bit of right-wing, conspiracy propaganda, found in their living space. Maddow exposed a fact of which I was unaware: She cited a New America Foundation comparison; there are more right-wing radical terrorist-caused deaths in America than Islamic fundamentalist-caused deaths, by a 34-to-21 ratio. She asked, “Why are we so willing to not be afraid of the threat of right-wing extremism in this country?…Why are right-wing American terrorist attacks treated as the acts of one-off whackos that are a surprise every time and indicative of nothing larger than the individual threat posed by an individual kook, when other forms of terrorism engender not just a bigger reaction from us as a nation, but a more radical and systemic response as well?” I can answer her questions (and I assume she could also): Right-wing propaganda has become too thoroughly embedded within our American culture, and a large percentage of Americans approve right-wing extremism within their journalism. We can find evidence by switching over to Fox News, where Sean Hannity continues to advance right-wing agenda.

Sean Hannity has focused much of his attention the past few days to a Nevada rancher named Cliven Bundy, who has organized a contingent of armed radicals who oppose the federal government, and Hannity seems to endorse the suggestive threats by the rancher, the show of force against Obama’s government, and the possibility of violence where real people are injured or killed, whether it be federal officers or the gatherers who stand with the rancher. Across this sordid story’s exposure (and not just on Hannity), there have been calls for local sheriffs to engage and disarm federal agents forcibly, governmental conspiracies of a diabolical solar plant construction plan on the federal land, predictions of surprise midnight raids, and a suggestion by one of the protestors, a former sheriff, for placing females at the frontline to expose the fraudulent government as the vile killers they are. Last night, Sean Hannity, always ready to poke a bear with a stick, repeatedly suggested to Bundy and family members that government agents might want to harm or kill these people in their sleep…and what were they going to do?! Hannity coyly feigns sympathy and safety while coming right up to the line of promoting violence and resistance; a better right-wing extremist mouthpiece cannot be found outside of Sean Hannity’s Fox News studio.

I watch Fox News because I think it’s important to regularly expose this counterfeit news network. It’s important because our country is being persuaded fraudulently. It’s important because we need to promote peace instead of violence in America. It’s important because America deserves better, informed objective journalism. It’s important because Fox News tends to focus our attention on things that are irrelevant for improved discourse (for example, we might want to collectively pay attention to Russia and Eastern Ukraine; it might be more important than cattle-ranchers in Nevada).

Finally, it’s important to be aware of how many citizens point to Fox News as their primary educational news vehicle. If your neighbor is watching Fox News and you are not, then it stands to reason that the schism of opinion in this country will only widen further.

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

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  1. A friend of mine posted this when I shared your blog. Wisdom indeed and good reason to start paying attention to Fox:

    Gary L. Starin “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
    ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

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