Exploiting people’s ignorance

Interesting article at Salon.com

Inside the Fox News lie machine: I fact-checked Sean Hannity on Obamacare

The article’s author is not — could this be significant? — a working journalist. No, the article’s author, Eric Stern, is a lawyer and a former senior counselor to the Governor of Montana (he’s also son of the NBA commish, not that that matters). He happened to watch the Hannity show on Fox News where 3 married couples were airing their personal “Obamacare horror stories”. Now Stern knows a bit about “Obamacare”. He thinks the stories don’t “smell right”, and so he just phones up those guests to learn more.

It turns out their horror stories are baseless! Who could’ve guessed?

Now does Hannity actually care that his guests were, at best, clueless and misinformed? What about the show’s young producers? What about Fox News management? The answer is unequivocally no. Misinforming is all in a day’s work. Bread and butter. Every day.

Only a consistently liberal operation like Salon.com will bother to publish Mr. Stern’s follow-up, interesting and worthwhile though it is. The vast majority of the nation’s press ignores the daily stream of pretend-journalism that feeds the conservative base. It won’t be remarked on; that’s just a given. Fox News has been granted some kind of pass, some kind of immunity from the ridicule and distaste that professional journalism ought to shower them with.

This silence is not working out well for America.

It’s true that our press almost never tries to correct the mis-reporting of any other press operation. To do so would be very time-consuming, and it might provoke return scrutiny.

Yes, every once in a while, a reporter will be discovered fabricating a story. Said reporter will be fired, and the firing organization will issue mea culpas and re-narrate its history of unbending commitment to the truth. But it won’t fact-check an intensely biased propaganda operation that pretends to deliver journalism. For that matter, they will almost never fact-check the statements of regular political liars, both official and unofficial. They’ll print it. Then they’ll find someone to say something different, and print that, too.

The poor citizen is on his own to figure out who’s telling the truth. And unfortunately all the evidence is that a LOT of us are no good at that. A lot of us are gullible and exploitable. So we get significant areas of the country where people think climate change is a hoax, evolution is a lie, the President is a socialist actually born in Kenya who secretly prays to Mecca.  Nothing is beyond the pale if it’s heard often enough and not constantly debunked. This past week these gullible folks almost got their foolish wish about defaulting on the national debt, because they’re frightened about “Obamacare”. No, it literally makes no sense.

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