11 words from John Oliver that expose Fox News’ fundamental hypocrisy

11 words from John Oliver that expose Fox News’ fundamental hypocrisy

It’s a wonderful presentation on, as Oliver says, how “the feedback loop between Fox and Trump has gotten ahead of science.” (You can – and should – watch the entire segment here.)

But there was one thing – actually an 11-word phrase – that really struck me in the Oliver segment. And that was it, when he was talking about Fox News coronavirus coverage:

Why the contrast between what their anchors grew and the internal advice given to staff? Because, as Oliver rightly points out, Fox News aims to sell some type of news to its largely conservative (and very broad) audience base. And this “news” is generally spoken, centered on the idea that the mainstream media are in league with the Democrats to kiss, frighten and otherwise mistreat the average Joe and Jane.

Or, as Oliver said, “Many conservative media have found it easy to replicate this virus in stories they have carefully crafted for decades.”

So when coronavirus deaths began to increase worldwide and it became clear that hopes for limiting the spread of the community in the United States were in vain, it was just too tempting for Fox News. They played the story of the coronavirus like they play practically all the other stories – as an indictment against the media and its prejudices. You see, the real story here – that mainstream media is not telling you – is that everything is over-typed! It’s like a cold virus! Hydroxychloroquine will knock everything out anyway. And so on.

This is why viewers of Fox News have a very different view of the coronavirus – its origins, the search for a vaccine, etc. – than non-Fox viewers.

In a recent Pew poll, 51% of Fox News viewers said it would take a year or more for the vaccine to be available, while 78% of MSNBC observers said it would take more than a year to a vaccine. Nearly 6 in 10 viewers on CNN said the same thing. (A vaccine is not expected for at least another year.) The same survey showed that only 37% of Fox News viewers said the virus came from nature, while 66% of MSNBC viewers and 52% CNN viewers said the same thing. (For those of you who note that the coronavirus may have been made in a laboratory, I would say this: we know that US intelligence officials are investigating this possibility. We also know that they have warned that it is far too early in the investigation to draw conclusions.)

The truth here is that Fox News knows exactly what it is doingg. He – or, really, the late Roger Ailes – created a brand that revolves around the distrust of his viewers towards the pillars of society such as government, the education system and, yes, the media. Every story – and I mean each story – is channeled through this lens.

Take the way Fox News has covered recent protests in states across the country regarding governor’s quarantine guidelines. Here is Fox host Jeanine Pirro in a recent interview on the Sean Hannity show:

“They want to take us away from churches and synagogues. They want to make sure we don’t go back to work. They don’t understand. The American spirit is too strong and the Americans will not take it.”

Who are they? Pirro never says. She doesn’t need it – because the Fox audience already knows who “they” are: the elites, the media, the Democrats, the establishment.

Or this tweet from Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham in support of protesters: “It’s time to reclaim your freedom.”

Whose return? Again, Ingraham does not say so. But she, like Pirro, knows that the public will fill the gaps.

The most harmful part of it all – and this is what Oliver’s 11 words hit directly on the head – is that Fox News covers the story this way not because it matches known facts. or because they believe it is the “real” story, but rather because they know that covering the coronavirus pandemic in this way means more viewers – and more money to sell ads.

Why? Because Fox News has spent years conditioning its regular viewers to believe that anything “the media” – or any institution of the establishment (other than them), of course – should not tell the whole truth on anything. And that the reason the establishment is not telling the truth is that the truth is somehow bad for them.

It’s been an incredibly vicious cycle – and has been for a long time. But it has never been as clear as it is today.

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