14 Ways to Skin a FOX {News}

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Photo Source, D W S’ Flickr Photostream.

Dr. Cynthia Boaz, an assistant professor of political science at Sonoma State University, published a thoughtful article at Truthout that deconstructs an example of a news media outlet that is not “fair and balanced.” I would like to share her analysis as “14 Ways to Skin a FOX {News}”, supplemented with my own commentary. Note that this is in no way unique to FOX News and is presented to readers as a case study for your consideration.

As one of my mentors once told me:

Sometimes when you make an omelet you’ve gotta break a few eggs.


Below are Prof. Boaz’s 14 categories, along with my commentary in parentheses.

1. Panic Mongering.
{Fear and panic are widely used in advertising and marketing. Think of those commercials for heart medications focusing on what it would be like for your family to go on without you, not on the medication itself.}

2. Character Assassination/Ad Hominem.
{Widely used, regardless of ideology.}

3. Projection/Flipping.
{Racists accusing everyone but themselves as being racist.}

4. Rewriting History.
{Still a man hears what he wants to hear. And disregards the rest. – “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel}

5. Scapegoating/Othering
{Classic xenophobia, not unique to Americans.}

6. Conflating Violence With Power and Opposition to Violence With Weakness.
{A virulent form of anti-intellectualism.}

7. Bullying.
{Everyone’s scared of a bully, right?}

8. Confusion.
{Smoke and mirrors; some viewers may interpret their confusion as their fault because they don’t “understand” the argument.}

9. Populism.
{No need to comment, except to say that it’s how elections are won.}

10. Invoking the Christian God.
{Particularly harmful, since “God told me to do it” is a common excuse for religions worldwide to rationalize virtually any activity – not in any way limited to Christianity! – to bestow power and diminish anyone outside of their group, a perversion of the original theology that would never allow such blaspheme.}

11. Saturation.
{If you hear something often enough, you will believe it.}

12. Disparaging Education.
{Not in any way unique to FOX News, but reminds us that intellectuals are free-thinkers and are difficult to constrain.}

13. Guilt by Association.
{McCarthyism lives on.}

14. Diversion.
{If it appears that you’re losing the argument, change the subject.}

Note that many of these techniques can be found playing out in elementary school yards. These 14 ways to skin a FOX {News} do not diminish their broadcast as a form of entertainment for a wide audience.

Comments

  1. #1 Ian
    July 3, 2011

    Compare to Eco’s “Eternal Fascism”

    http://www.themodernword.com/eco/eco_blackshirt.html

    Every one of those can be mapped to one or more of his points.

    So what can be done about it, or can anything be done about it? Can someone under that spell be made aware of how they’re being manipulated, without rejecting it under 8, 10, 12, 13 or 14, or using any of the others?

  2. #2 Pierce R. Butler
    July 3, 2011

    Another crucial manipulation method not mentioned here: convince the mark(s) that you are their special friend and protector – and sexual icon, sometimes – there to help and guide them in a world filled with aforementioned enemies.

    The flip side of this, also implied by the above: subvert any feelings of trust and confidence in existing authorities/friends. This, in the Fox world, ranges from badmouthing municipal workers to The X Files.

    Murdoch has all the instincts of a natural cult leader.

  3. #3 Victor A.
    July 4, 2011

    I do not know if this is just a personal issue, but my father who has always been a extremely intelligent man has fallen into the Fox mindset. Is it age or fear, maybe both?
    What makes it so difficult, our interactions, is up till the last few years we had been able to disagree without acrimony; but now devolves into screaming and anger on his part.
    I’ve come to believe that Fox is causing a breakdown to civility, the take no prisoners approach to debate has stifled my ability to talk with him. I have been observant that many others of his generation and working class background are gravitating to this way of thinking (not that others from the left are much better, in strident anger of opposing view points).
    Is this because of Fox (anger over perceived threat to the ‘American’ way of life and fear for the safety and well being of themselves and loved ones), or is Fox a invention of this segment of society ?

    I’m saddened by this turn of events, and hope over time that there’s a return to thoughtful,even discourse..

    I don’t normally post on the web and apologize for my poor writing, but this subject is close to my interests..

  4. #4 Ian
    July 4, 2011

    “(not that others from the left are much better, in strident anger of opposing view points”

    Where have you seen Fox-style blind condemnation from the left?

    The worst offense I’ve been witness to on the left is Obama worship. (I’m talking about people who talk about him…or talked about him 2 or more years ago…like he was going to save us all from everything. Like the girl who wanted to frame everything in a flyer about health care reform in terms referencing Obama…in a kind of purple town in a very red state. Playing right into the rhetorical hands of the right, basically.)

  5. #5 karen
    July 4, 2011

    I wish when people wrote things like this (“a case study for consideration”), they would actually include examples of each of their points. Most people don’t do a lot of thinking concerning why they perceive things the way that they do. I would like to understand why one news channel is perceived as so horrible while all do the same thing….it’s merely if one likes the view what they are hearing or not.

  6. #6 Kathy
    July 6, 2011

    I just read Ms. Boaz’s article. A slanted piece of garbage if I ever saw one. I’ve been reading left slanted novels, watching left slanted news, movies and even sitcoms since the 60’s. Typical of the left, she accuses anyone and anything she disagrees with by accusing them of what the left in this country has been doing for decades. After typing “cynthia boaz” in ggogle news I wasn’t terribly surprised to see that this article was printed in al jazeera, palestine news etc. etc. Boaz, you disgust me.

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