La Dolce Vita

A few thoughts from Steven Rockford
Editor’s Pick
JUNE 13, 2011 12:00PM

"People do not believe lies

Rate: 29 Flag

because they have to


but because they want to."

(Malcolm Muggeridge, British author) 

Tim Dickinson, at Rolling Stone, said that Fox News has a “viewership that knows almost nothing about what’s going on in the world.  That’s because Fox News viewers actually do not want to know what is really going on in the world.  They honestly want to believe the lies that are being broadcast by Roger Ailes and company at Fox News. 

Roger Ailes is truly a propaganda genius.   

Like Joseph Goebbels and other expert propagandists of the past, Roger Ailes has mastered the art of fear mongering and has successfully tapped into the primal fears of America’s conservative base. 

I re-read Dickinson’s excellent exposé on Roger Ailes last weekend.  What I found to be most revealing in my second read was not the details of Ailes’ background (which were very well presented) but rather Dickinson’s analysis of the audience that Ailes has so successfully exploited.   

Fox viewers are truly ignorant people, according to Dickinson: 

“The result of this concerted campaign of disinformation is a viewership that knows almost nothing about what’s going on in the world. According to recent polls, Fox News viewers are the most misinformed of all news consumers. They are 12 percentage points more likely to believe the stimulus package caused job losses, 17 points more likely to believe Muslims want to establish Shariah law in America, 30 points more likely to say that scientists dispute global warming, and 31 points more likely to doubt President Obama’s citizenship. In fact, a study by the University of Maryland reveals, ignorance of Fox viewers actually increases the longer they watch the network. That’s because Ailes isn’t interested in providing people with information, or even a balanced range of perspectives. Like his political mentor, Richard Nixon, Ailes traffics in the emotions of victimization.”   

This is quite an achievement for Roger Ailes.  Fox News has the highest ratings on cable TV.  And, if the average Fox viewer can be justifiably defined by Dickinson’s description noted above, then this means that "one man" has successfully brainwashed the entire rightwing element of American society.   

It is safe to say that Roger Ailes is the Pied Piper of the conservative movement - A truly impressive propagandist accomplishment.   

Moreover, it appears that the Republican Party leadership has awakened to this realization.  As Dickinson said in his closing paragraph:  

“[Ailes] has put the Republican Party on his payroll and forced it to remake itself around his image. Ailes is the Chairman, and the conservative movement now reports to him. ‘Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us,’ said David Frum, the former Bush speechwriter. ‘Now we’re discovering that we work for Fox’." 

Wouldn’t it be fun to be a fly on the wall during the many Ailes-GOP meetings leading up to the November 2012 presidential election?  The GOP Brahmans are going to be forced to kiss-up to this man: 

ailes - nydailynews-com 

Should be very interesting.

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An excellent piece.
People believe Fox lies because they were indoctrinated into a cult belief from birth and they can't use their own discretion; instead they need a leader to do their thinking.
It's an interesting distinction--between true believers and cynical self-interest. Is there really any difference on some level? What do creatures like Ailes really live off? Not broken dreams, I'm afraid, but a combination of "ah, yes, that's how it really is (because that's what I want to believe" and "ah, yeah, that's how I can get what I want." It's true that people are perfectly aware on some level that they're engaged in lying when they're lying, or listening in all seriousness to someone engaged in it--bad faith, and all that. But now the case with Fox and the scandal ridden News of World is perhaps different. The larger part of their audiences today--who have not been totally brutalized by the past two years--are the cynical petty bourgeois, small business types. I imagine the typical Fox News viewer today as the small business person who employs illegal immigrants for practically nothing and keeps them locked in a trailer in hundred degree heat, while whining about all the "government inferference" in his/her life...
It is much easier to believe lies than to think for yourself. Ailes and his kind know that only too well.
half of america think genesis is superior to science, so fox news started with an easy base.

'progressives ' are not really smarter, because they never figure out that you can't progress if you don't move. watching the nation drift into collapse is not progressive.
In a way, he's the modern-day Hearst -- the guy who used media as power. The question is whether he's more or less ubiquitous and pervasive.
Your comparison of Ailes to Goebbels is right on the nailhead. Fox is not just wrong, it uses misinformation to influence these pea-brains who watch it.
Funny that you quote Muggeridge, as if his drivel means something (Goebbels said much the same throughout his diaries). Muggeridge was, first, a communist (lived in Moscow, 1930s), then, in the war, was in MI6, then, he was a propagandist for the Daily Mirror and Punch, then, he discovered Jesus and became somewhat nutz. He is on the record as saying that Europe would have been better off under Hitler than under Stalin. Are you aware of this, or did you just pull a knee jerky quote out of your ear or wikipedia in order to lend gravitas to your silly piece? Are CNN viewers less 'ignorant' than Fox viewers? NBC Nightly News viewers? (They get a dose of lefty lies every night). Give me statistics, comparisons. HOW much more ignorant are Fox viewers than others? Two percent? Twenty? And ignorant of just what exactly? Who's measuring what vis-a-vis ignorance? Most americans of any political stripe cannot find New Mexico on a map, let alone identify things such as the Versaille Treaty of the Truman doctrine. So, what's you (sustainable) point? Sorry, this piece doesn't work, more mush from the mushers.
Most liberals that hate FOX don't watch it. All those big words are intimidating.

FOX just faithfully reported that Obama (he of the ignorance of dates, number of states, and pronunciation) just reported that "if I was he, I would resign." It seems that the subjunctive mode has also escaped his searing intellect.
I despise Roger Ailes, but the vast majority of these people were willfully ignorant before Ailes and Fux News came along, and they and their spawn will remain willfully and woefully ignorant long after he's gone.

These are people who can't see the irony when preachers get up on TV, a product of applied science, and rant against godless science. They are first cousins to Bin Laden et al, who use cell phones and video to try and take people back to the 7th Century.

In short, the only ism I'm afraid of is fundamentalism.
It is not likely that any piece that contains a sentence like, "Fox viewers are truly ignorant people." has anything accurate to say. This claim is as provable as the claims that Liberals are both poor and stupid are.

My guess is that the author has watched Fox and that he does not consider himself stupid. However, my guess is also that the author does not have a valid explanation why Fox is successful and Air America is bankrupt.
Ailes doesn't do all this on his own, of course. He has hoards of unscrupulous psychologists to assist him.
Goebbels, Bin Laden? Are you nuts? Rhetorical question. I and most straight thinking Americans know the answer.

I’m glad you liked my Muggeridge quote. I too felt it fit well into making my point.

Best regards……….. Steven
Fox viewers are simply the latest morph in the white_league/k_k_k/dixiecrat/john_birch/george_wallace/nixon/reagan/david_duke/tea_bagging haters who are now proud to hold up Arizona as their standard.

What they broadcast is consensus history double white-washed as policy. This is the LCD- what you can say in a mixed audience of haters and get away with, which is the standard BS about the Civil War not being about hate and slavery, Black/Brown/Red people's (and Asians, and creeds, and religions) grievances being unfounded- one big fat denial of the cold hard facts.

Basically, they are 1/2 selfish hogs who want everything for themselves and couldn't care less about others, and the other 1/2 paranoid guilt that worries the aforementioned will come for them due to the sins of their forefathers.

This is exactly what AG Holder meant when he said, "AMERICANS ARE COWARDS ON RACE."

ps Gordo- the prez's first language is Hawaiian Creole, not the Princey Pancey stuff you keep on the nightstand, we ain't known for diction- just for callin' out dicks.
theres some good articles out now talking about the limitations of this approach.
I am not sure its sustainable.
ratings went way down on Beck for example.
the term "race to the bottom" comes to mind.
one article pointed out that by promoting near-farce candidates for office they were ruining their chances of getting anyone elected, who appeals to the middle.
so, conceivably the network could be slowly painting itself into a corner.
Is it surprising that the Repubs have and are continuing to do all they can to destroy public education in this country. Educated people with questioning minds and the capacity for logical, rational thought wouldn't believe their Big Lie so easily and be such manipulatable sheep.
Very good point vzn.

The "Fox Farce" cannot go on forever.
Ian Curtis,

I want to thank you for your very important comment. Like you, I feel that the destruction of our public education system in this country by the GOP is the most egregious policy that they have.

But, as you say, they need to ensure that there isn’t any “logical rational thought” in America to counter their elitist agenda. By making us “manipulative sheep” they hope to achieve this objective.

Let’s not let this happen.

Best regards……………. Steven Rockford
I wouldn't describe the Fox enthusiast as "ignorant." I would say they're gullible, easily manipulated, selectively stupid, politically dull-witted slogan-clucking dogmatic ideologue wannabes.

I mean really, guys, anyone who buys into the whole 'conservative" media is a twit -- but to some degree just politically so. We can assume many of them can tie their shoes and fix Kraft mac and cheese...and dress themselves. But when politics intrudes, they think their slogans and sneering represents real thinking -- and on that account Fox are to blame, as they make dull-witted babble seem normal.
Chris illustrates this very well, as pointing out the popularity of Fox means only there is an ample supply of dull-witted slogan-cluckers. Of course, no form of logic sees popularity as affirming Fox' validity as a news source, so no one versed in logic would offer it in argument. It's always fun watching somebody confirm what they're trying to refute.

Or is it refudiate, as that Symbol of Conservative Intellect would say?

I almost feel sorry for conservatives...
Great article Steve and those are fascinating stats. I have to take issue with Boko's point about the typical Fox viewer. There are lots out there and plenty who are have below median incomes and basically live paycheck to paycheck. I haven't quite worked out a theory but it's something like a tribalism of folks who resent others who act smarter than them. So Fox and its ilk decry the intellectuals, serve up bumper sticker wisdom and stick it to the smarty-pants.

There's also the way in which the propaganda of the right differs from that of the left. Socialist International or Radio Free Berkeley say there's plenty of problems in the world and YOU should be doing more to address them. Fox et al say there's plenty of problems in the world and "they" are the cause of it.
Of course, this is a GREAT article. TWENTY-THREE ratings and two Faux news supporters. Says quite a bit about the two.

Fascism is as fascism does. The good news is -- that F*x viewers are dying off. And if you look at one of my recent posts, you'll see why they're disappearing even faster than that. And F*x News is in serious hot water internally. When Ailes leaves, it will be Lord of the Flies.
Loved this and “[Ailes] has put the Republican Party on his payroll and forced it to remake itself around his image. Ailes is the Chairman, and the conservative movement now reports to him. ‘Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us,’ said David Frum, the former Bush speechwriter. ‘Now we’re discovering that we work for Fox’."
I thought the "flow chart" with the Rolling Stone article was particularly illustrative. In reviewing one full day of Fox News programming (the day after Obama's SOTU speech), they counted the number of times each program (both hosts and guests) parroted the "talking points of the day". Dozens and dozens of examples. If you repeat something often enough, it will be believed.
Depressing. Because it is so spot-on. What I find even more depressing are my Fox-addict colleagues -- because they are high school teachers. A few years ago, while waiting for a meeting, three of us took the citizenship test. The teacher who got a 30% (and claims to be VERY patriotic) explained that she's "just not interested in that stuff." R (wiping a stray tear from corner of eye)
Unfortunately Fox and MSNBC have become more of an entertainment channel instead of a news channel in recent years. CNN is more down the middle on its reporting in my view.

Unfortunately people have been spoon fed biased news for years. To these people, fact and fiction are one of the same.