Best of FF: Fox Geezer Syndrome

December 28th, 2011 at 1:06 am | 47 Comments |

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As 2011 comes to a close, FrumForum plans to re-run some of our best featured pieces from the year. We will be running past pieces up until January 2nd of 2012. We start with an analysis of ‘Fox Geezer Syndrome’ by Richard Ramsay.

Conor Friedersdorf remembers what a pain it was to live with a liberal roommate who watched Keith Olbermann every night, and would subsequently sulk around in a pissed-off mood. Friedersdorf too got a negative contact buzz from the show. He writes: “It seems to me that Olbermann’s show often brought out the worst impulses in people: petulance, self-righteousness, and blind anger at ‘the other side.’”

Sounds familiar to me, though from the other side. Except in my case, it’s not my liberal roommate. It’s my conservative parents – and maybe yours too.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been keeping track of a trend among friends around my age (late thirties to mid-forties). Eight of us (so far) share something in common besides our conservatism: a deep frustration over how our parents have become impossible to take on the subject of politics. Without fail, it turns out that our folks have all been sitting at home watching Fox News Channel all day – especially Glenn Beck’s program.

Used to be I would call my mom and get updated on news from the neighborhood, her garden, the grandchildren, hometown gossip, and so forth. I’ve always been interested in politics, but never had the occasion to talk about them with her. She just doesn’t care.

Or didn’t. I don’t know when it happened, exactly, but she began peppering our conversation with red-hot remarks about President Obama. I would try to engage her, but unless I shared her particular judgment, and her outrage, she apparently thought that I was a dupe or a RINO. Finally I asked my father privately why Mom, who as far as I know never before had a political thought, was so worked up about Obama all the time.

“She’s been like that ever since she started watching Glenn Beck,” Dad said.

A few months later, she roped him into watching Beck, which had the same effect. Even though we’re all conservatives, I found myself having to steer our phone conversations away from politics and current events. It wasn’t that I disagreed with their opinions – though I often did – but rather that I found the vehemence with which they expressed those opinions to be so off-putting.

Then I flew out for a visit, and observed that their television was on all day long, even if no one was watching it. What channel was playing? Fox. Spending a few days in the company of the channel – especially Glenn Beck — it all became clear to me. If Fox was the window through which I saw the wider world, for hours every day, I’d be perpetually pissed off too.

Back home, I mentioned to a friend over beers how much Fox my mom and dad watched, and how angry they now were about politics.

“Yours too?!” he said. “I’ve noticed the same thing with mine. They weren’t always like this, but since they retired, they’ve gotten into Fox, and you can’t even talk to them anymore without hearing them read the riot act about Obama.”

I started to wonder how common this Fox Geezer Syndrome was. I began to poll conservative friends of my generation who had right-wing parents. At least eight different people – not an Obama voter among them, and one of them actually a George W. Bush political appointee in Washington – told me that yes, they had observed a correlation between the fevered emotionalism of their elderly parents’ politics, and increased exposure to Fox News.

After the Tucson shootings, Fox chief Roger Ailes said he had told his crew to “tone it down.” I’m skeptical, but I hope he succeeds. One of the great advantages of a conservative disposition is a suspicion of emotions, and emotionalism. The dumbest decisions I’ve ever made, about politics and everything else, were executed while I was worked up about something, and trusted my emotional response. Passion is inevitable – we are only human, after all – and can be constructive when properly channeled. But passion is the enemy of clear thought and, when given free reign, is the prerequisite for mob rule.

Unbridled anger at the deserving enemies is a danger to the civil order, and ultimately to ourselves. Remember Thomas More’s warning to the hotheaded William Roper in A Man For All Seasons, when Roper accused More of going easy on a scoundrel who hadn’t (yet) broken the law. Roper charged More with wanting to give the Devil the benefit of the law.

“This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s!” More responded. “And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?”

More adds that he would give the Devil the benefit of the law “for my own safety’s sake.” There’s a profound conservative truth in this, a warning that even passion for righteousness can be turned to evil, precisely because it is passion.

The popularity of vigorous rage merchants like Beck and Olbermann are not a sign of our political culture’s vitality, but rather its decadence. We live in a time and place that puts high value on emotion, and that views emotions as self-validating. To feel something is thought by many to be sufficient evidence of its truthfulness, or at least its authenticity. This is a mark of the barbarian. I understand why post-Sixties liberals make the mistake of believing that nonsense. But conservatives?

I love my own Fox Geezers, who are big-hearted, salt-of-the-earth folks when they’re not talking about politics. But they are living proof that growing older doesn’t always mean growing wiser.

Richmond Ramsey is the pseudonym of an executive who lives and works in Blue America.

Originally published on January 30th, 2011.

Recent Posts by Richmond Ramsey



47 Comments so far ↓

  • Reflection Ephemeral

    “Fox News is Nickelodeon for people with dementia.” — A writer at Balloon Juice

  • busboy33

    To me the fascinating question is . . . why geezers?

    • abc123

      Because they’re retired and watch TV all day… my parents show bits of it too. They watch a bunch of fox news.

    • Solo4114

      Plenty have noted that, as we age, our opinions and attitudes tend to ossify. We are far far less positively disposed towards change. “Kids today, with their music and their clothes…feh!”

      It is natural, therefore, that we become more “conservative” as we age. I mean this, however, in the sense that we are far more set in our ways, not in a political sense. You could be politically liberal, but conservatively set-in-your-ways about that mindset, if that makes sense. But you can see this in plenty of other ways. My grandfather loathes modern technology. He’s not a Luddite, mind you. He just hates having to learn how to use it. Truly, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

      Fox and the current GOP message appeals to a particular type of old dog. These are people who remember the world when it looked VERY different from the way it is now. Think about how much has changed in the past 40 years, and how rapidly things have changed in the past 15. It’s not simply the scope of the change, but the pace at which change happens that really shakes folks now. Roll the clock back to even 1980 and tell me if you can imagine a black man as President. I mean REALLY imagine it, not just hypothetically. Tell me if you can imagine gays in the military, or a culture that is in many ways very accepting of homosexuality — and one in which popular culture actually sends the message that we OUGHT to be accepting of it. Try to imagine a time when there were at most six or seven TV channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and your UHF stations) and everyone’s TV had rabbit ears. Back then your remote needed a whopping FOUR buttons.

      Now look at the world around you today.

      NOW imagine that you’re, say, in your mid-to-late 60s or older.

      Fox recognizes that this demographic, especially if they were politically conservative to begin with, is intensely uncomfortable with all the change that has occurred around them. I’d argue that the Tea Party movement is every bit a cultural and emotional backlash as it is a political one. In some ways it’s more cultural and emotional than political (witness the fact that many Tea Party folks cannot effectively articulate what is wrong with the country or how to fix it, and have thus turned to crackpot theories). I’d argue that “Birtherism” is more just an emotional response looking for logic than it is even a clearly thought out conspiracy theory. I mean, it’s not like it rises to the level of, say, the Area 51 or Kennedy Assassination theories.

      So, Fox sees all of this, and it sees DOLLAR SIGNS. This is a market just waiting to be tapped. Enter the TV ranter. What Olbermann did for the left, Beck and his ilk do on the right. They provide some kind of coherent (or more often semi-coherent) argument to frame the underlying emotional sentiment that “SOMETHING IS VERY VERY WRONG AND I DON’T LIKE IT!!!” And the more emotional the viewer is, the more passionately angry or distraught that viewer is, the more likely that they will say “Yeah! HELL yeah!!” to whatever blather this media personality offers. Not only that, but the cycle itself is self-reinforcing. Your initial exposure confirms your emotions and introduces new information that you hadn’t considered (which also confirms the basic emotion), thereby incensing you more, and so you continue to tune in, day in, day out.

      To be fair, I don’t think this is STRICTLY Fox’s fault, although they have certainly perfected this type of media product. This issue is reinforced by the “mainstream” media’s treatment of political issues, where they simply report what each side said while (A) refusing to call BS on anyone, and (B) treating everything as a constant horse race — a matter of who’s up and who’s down, rather than what’s best for the country.

      The end result is a populace in a constant state of high dudgeon, incensed at “the other side”, sometimes able to articulate why, often not. And when one side lacks coherent arguments, it can simply appeal to the passions of the mob to gum up the works. In fairness, this is likely how politics has always operated throughout history, but we live in a time of considerably uncertainty and anxiety, and that inevitably turns into anger when given an outlet and a target. Fox excels at this, and makes boatloads of cash out of it.

      • Graychin

        I like to express it this way: As we get older, we become more and more like we always were.

        It isn’t just older people who are exposed to Fox News all day, every day. At least half of the waiting rooms I visit have TV sets tuned to Fox News. I change the channel when the other people in the room don’t mind (which they never do), but the people who work in those places are subjected to that stuff all day – either by their own choice, or more likely by the choice of their boss.

        Back in the ’90s I deleted the button for my favorite station on the car radio when it started carrying some gasbag named Ross Limburg. I hated the angry feeling I got whenever I heard him. I guess other people enjoy the adrenalin that he causes to flow.

        • nitrat

          It is very intentional. Murdoch understood what he had to do to get control of politics in Britain – blackmail and intimidation through the tabloid media – and he knows, with the help of Roger Ailes, what he has to do in the USA – stir up race and class hate (against the poor and middle class. That’s the real class warfare Warren Buffett has talked about.) and dissemble about everything.

          Fox News is the propaganda branch of the GOP. That was the intention when Reagan insured Murdoch became a citizen so he could buy US TV stations. It was the intention when Reagan ended the Fairness Doctrine by executive order. It was the intention when Murdoch hired Ailes for Fox “News”. There is a very direct chronological line there. I did my research on Murdoch and the Fairness Doctrine on Wikipedia.

          American politicians, particularly the Republicans, are terrified of Murdoch. I think the media is almost as afraid…is Murdoch blackmailing journalists,too? Why did Chris Christie, when US Attorney, NOT pursue criminal charges against News Corp in the floor advertising computer hacking case? Why has no one asked Chris Christie why ? Why is Christie, a rank bully, such a darling of the right and the media? Is he the beloved of Rupert?

          News Corp is the biggest corruption in this country and the journalistic ADD just lets it fly under the radar. NPR is probably too intimidated to do the big expose that’s needed. How about 60 Minutes?

        • armstp

          Actually, it is a myth that as we age we become more conservative. Studies have show that as we age we actually become more liberal.

          Busting Myth, People Turn More Liberal With Age

          The stereotype of a cranky old man, set in his ways, getting more conservative by the day, is an enduring one. But new research has debunked the myth that people become more conservative as they age.

          By comparing surveys of various age groups taken over a span of more than 30 years, sociologists found that in general, Americans’ opinions veer toward the liberal as they grow older.

          “All the evidence we have found refutes the idea that as people age their attitudes become more conservative or more rigid,” said Nicholas Danigelis, a sociologist at the University of Vermont. “It’s just not true. More people are changing in a liberal direction than in a conservative direction.”

          http://www.livescience.com/2360-busting-myth-people-turn-liberal-age.html

  • zaybu

    I’ll bet anything that these folks believe that the media is controlled by the liberals.

  • lilmanny

    Excellent article.

  • TerryF98

    .” I don’t know when it happened, exactly, but she began peppering our conversation with red-hot remarks about President Obama. ”

    It was when the black guy got elected.

  • Stewardship

    At what point does broadcasting lies, falsehoods, and misinformation pass freedom of speech and reach treason? Fox, the Cartoon Network, whatever… Our nation once required great care to be exercised by broadcasters using the public airwaves.

  • armstp

    According to Media Matters their Top 2011 Fox News lie:

    > Top Fox News Executive Admits Lying On-Air About Obama

    “In newly uncovered audio, a Fox News executive boasts that he lied repeatedly during the closing days of the 2008 presidential campaign when he speculated on-air “about whether Barack Obama really advocated socialism.”

    Speaking in 2009 onboard a pricey Mediterranean cruise sponsored by a right-wing college, Fox Washington managing editor Bill Sammon described his attempts the previous year to link Obama to “socialism” as “mischievous speculation.” Sammon, who is also a Fox News vice president, acknowledged that “privately” he had believed that the socialism allegation was “rather far-fetched.”

    “Last year, candidate Barack Obama stood on a sidewalk in Toledo, Ohio, and first let it slip to Joe the Plumber that he wanted to quote, ‘spread the wealth around,’ ” said Sammon. “At that time, I have to admit, that I went on TV on Fox News and publicly engaged in what I guess was some rather mischievous speculation about whether Barack Obama really advocated socialism, a premise that privately I found rather far-fetched.” “

    • ram6968

      all that republican talk of socialism has the tea party convinced that anyone who’s not on the right is a socialist if not a communist, so the republican base is not prone to voting for a moderate…….and the moderates think the base is a bunch of politically uninformed nutjobs and won’t vote for a tea party candidate, so they fractured their own party.

      if they lose the election, it will be the very thing they thought would win them the elecction(tea party) that will be what costs them the election

  • anniemargret

    HIlarious. Although I would re-title it, “Fox News Syndrome” since it isnt’ just ‘old geezers’ that get brain-washed.

    Our news media today is baby-sitter, companion, entertainment, faux news and god. The more you listen to one sided views, the more skewed you get.

    I’m a fairly moderate liberal on most issues and I vote Democrat. But I am here at this forum, for some time, because I like to keep myself open to all views and not just get ditto’d at dailykos or huffpo.

    We all owe it to the nation to allow other pov’s to enter the conversation. The problem with the WWII generation is that they have never had to grow up in a world that is changing so fast that their head is spinning.

    New technology, new forms of communication, 24 hour news mixed in with entertaiment and ‘outraged’ talking heads, they don’t realize they are being bamboozled and brainwashed.

    But make no mistake. There are plenty of WWII gen folks out there who aren’t all uptight cranky I-Hate-Obama-Because-He’s-A-Suspect-American types. Plenty of oldsters can see right through the scam that is Fox News.

    But it’s a sad commentary on our ‘freedom’ to be so wired to think in only one way, without really giving ‘freedom’ a chance to expand one’s vision and understanding of what is America in the almost year of 2012.

    Fox News = a POX on America.

  • Ogemaniac

    “One of the great advantages of a conservative disposition is a suspicion of emotions, and emotionalism”

    LOL. ROLF. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Are you serious? Conservatives are completely and utterly divorced from the world of fact nowadays, and direct appeals to greed and fear have always been standard Republican tactics. There is nothing left on the right BUT emotion.

    • LFC

      I disagree. The right-wingnut GOP base who are “completely and utterly divorced from the world of fact” are in no way, shape, or form “conservative” in the way I define it. Republicans left actual conservatism behind years ago.

  • Nanotek

    “One of the great advantages of a conservative disposition is a suspicion of emotions, and emotionalism.”

    nice try… every conservative in the public realm I’ve seen or listened to peddles conservatism gift-wrapped with some emotion — from self-righteous disgust to wide-eyed rage — at any RINOs, liberals or progressive who disagrees with them.

    “To feel something is thought by many to be sufficient evidence of its truthfulness, or at least its authenticity. This is a mark of the barbarian.”

    odd… the conservatives I hear usually say that is the mark of the Faith community … and that contrary reason, evidence or facts, like evolution, is the mark of the barbarian

    “I understand why post-Sixties liberals make the mistake of believing that nonsense. But conservatives?”

    my, my, what big emotional generalizations you have … you don’t fall far from the tree

    if your conclusions make no sense to you, check your premises…

    “When you explain why, you have to be in some framework that you allow something to be true. Otherwise you are perpetually asking why.” Richard Feynman

    • TJ Parker

      nice try… every conservative in the public realm I’ve seen or listened to peddles conservatism gift-wrapped with some emotion — from self-righteous disgust to wide-eyed rage — at any RINOs, liberals or progressive who disagrees with them.

      Maybe this is why Romney has such a hard time: an android trying to emulate the one thing that it can’t truly understand, human emotion. Like Cmdr. Data trying to tell a joke.

  • jorae

    “Why Republicans Embrace Simpletons and How It Hurts America”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-marshall-crotty/why-republicans-embrace-s_b_1164655.html

    Cross-posted from Forbes.
    ==============

    Too much time on their hands? What’s the excuse for the others?

    • valkayec

      Wonderful post connected to that link. Admittedly, I cringed at the beginning but laughter swiftly followed as well as more than a bit of sorrow. A tour de force take down of the modern GOP.

    • Raskolnik

      Great link, thanks for cross-posting!

    • Traveler

      +1. Winced at first, but enjoyed the thorough dismantling.

  • Oldskool

    First Fox convinced geezers and other viewers that they were super patriotic. Everything since has been a piece of cake. Of course the damage they’ve done to the country is as unpatriotic as you can get. They make our offshore enemies look like amateurs.

  • Bruce Brittain

    Regardless of age, the unifying trait in people who rely solely on FOX (or Keith Olbermann) for shaping their political beliefs is poor critical thinking skills. It’s been said that wisdom comes with age but too often age comes alone.

    • Graychin

      Sorry, but I have to call BS on the false equivalence between Fox and Keith Olbermann.

      Both Fox and Olbermann play to viewers’ anger, but at least Olbermann is based in reality. Fox just makes up s**t for the geezers and geezers-to-be to get angry about. And Olbermann is just for one hour a day – not 24/7/365.

      My favorite deliberately unbalanced political show is Rachel Maddow. I love the way she sticks in the knife in a soft voice while wearing a sweet smile.

      • dante

        I’m with Graychin on this one, but I will offer up Ed Schultz as the worthless blow-hard on the left. He’ll carry water for one group or another, even if it conflicts with the overall position that someone on his side *should* take (his adamant support for the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, for example, as it benefited his union supporters at the expense of consumer protection, consumer choice, anti-monopoly, etc.

        • Graychin

          dante –

          I agree with you 100%.

        • Traveler

          Me too. Maddow is excellent. Zakariah also realistic. Amanpour too, but after that, MSM goes downhill…Cooper is at the bottom, since he acts like he cares when all does is fan flames without a single sentient thought.

      • Nanotek

        “My favorite… is Rachel Maddow.”

        + 1

      • Baron Siegfried

        Jah, she’s fun to watch . . . and while I know she’s spinninglike mad, I know she’s going to be factually honest. I can respect that, and when she makes a mistake, she admits or clarifies it on air. Fox simply lies. It’s almost apocryphal now that the way you tell if a republican is in real trouble is when Fox runs your picture identifying you as a democrat . . .

        Matthews & Olberman are a bit bombastic for my taste, and Ed Schulz is just a left wing O’Reilley – would love to hear them go at in a bar somewhere. Cenk Uygar can be a bit overbearing at times, and his show needs a tech upgrade. But I can’t watch any of the Fox bloviators for more than perhaps five minutes before my annoy-o-meter pegs out and I have to switch channels. However, I love my daily fix of Stewart & Colbert – they’re equal opportunity blasphemers.

  • _will_

    This is a mark of the barbarian. I understand why post-Sixties liberals make the mistake of believing that nonsense. But conservatives?

    Do go on!!

  • Det. Tom Polhaus

    I’m a news junkie, and I’ve developed a real loathing for most television ‘news’. CNN lurches about, hopelessly incompetent on any issue requiring depth and MSNBC balances between rival ‘queen bee’ dominated middle-school cliques.
    Fox, though, is slowly morphing into political televangelism for the conservative movement. At one time, conservatives absolutely were shortchanged by television media. When Fox began, there was a great deal of promise to rectify this situation. Fox might have made the media more ‘fair and balanced’.
    However, as Fox is a corporation first and foremost, they have chosen market share over honest reporting. They should not be faulted for this at all, imho – a corporation’s duty is to provide profit for its ownership after all – but as with all human endeavors, there are consequences.
    One of these consequences is that absolutely no criticism of Fox-defined conservatism is ever allowed on FNC. Republicans are almost never in the wrong about anything (and when they are, it’s ‘understandable’ – they’re wrong for the right reasons). Democrats are never right about anything (unless they’re played by Doug Schoen or Bob Beckel). There is no deviation on this front – not ever on their ‘news’ programs, and only degrees of difference on their ‘editorial’ programs.
    After days/months/years of absolute consistency on this front, Fox viewers can no longer quite believe anything that does not fit into this pattern. Any fact that challenges Fox-defined conservatism creates a crisis of cognitive dissonance – and any social scientist will tell you the fact will change long before the belief. Every troublesome fact sends these viewers scurrying back to Fox for comfort and reassurance.
    In this sense, Fox is taking the role of a religion for many conservatives. Any challenge of Fox-defined conservatism is met with the same outrage that a Catholic would exhibit if Catholic dogma was challenged. Fox-defined conservatism, like faith, is perfect and unchallengeable.
    The success of Fox is endangering conservatism, which above all stresses the imperfection of humanity. Conservatives are often wrong about matters, like any group. When there is an inability to face errors, stupidity and disaster often follow (think Brezhnev-era Pravda). I believe this does not do conservatism – nor the Nation – any favors.

    • Houndentenor

      Agreed. TV news is a joke. 24 hour news channels that provide far less news that the first four pages of your local newspaper. It’s the same headlines over and over again. Rarely is there any depth and in-depth reporting is reserved for sensationalized stories like the Casey Anthony trial. International news is virtually non-existent.

      If you want to know what’s going on in the world you have to read newspapers. They almost all have free online editions. It’s better if you can read more than one language but there are plenty of English language papers and editions all over the world. A few magazines also do good work but most have followed the People model of short stories with no depth and lots of pictures.

      TV news could do a better job. But it would take putting real news people in charge of content as it was in the early days. Now it’s run like the entertainment division. Fox News is terrible but CNN is just as bad, just for different reasons.

      • TJ Parker

        TV news is a joke.

        American TV news is a joke. Watch the BBC or Al Jazeera, or listen to NPR sometime. Its the appeal to the American mass market that degrades it.

        Heck, only 40% of Americans believe in evolution. Think of what that means!! In my experience, how can you do anything after 7th grade science without evolution!? Face it, we’re a country of morons and illiterates and innumerates.

    • dante

      The funniest thing is listening to the most watched-host on the most watched-tv news channel whining and moaning about the “MainStream Media”.

      Uh, Glenn, you ARE the mainstream media.

    • TJ Parker

      When there is an inability to face errors, stupidity and disaster often follow …

      You’re too kind. We’ve already had both, in abundance.

  • elizajane

    Fox caters to retirement brains. You know, the ones that want to stop thinking. There are no true “bare facts” on Fox, no facts at all: everything is pre-digested so that you know exactly what to think about it. And indignation is such a fun emotion! You can dress up in 18th-century costume with all your friends and be indignant together!

    My father (once a member of the Socialist Party) started by listening to Rush in the 90s and has ended with Fox in the new century. Talking with him is like negotiating a minefield: you never know what offhand comment will instigate a barrage of anger at what left-seeming cause or group. The man is using up his grandchildren’s college trust fund to maintain a home in Virginia and an apartment in London and to vacation in Capri, but it’s the younger generation who are shiftless and entitled.

    A recent phone call from him began with an account of a party where there was so much caviar that the guests ate if off the backs of their hands, and ended up with a rant about how the Davis student protesters deserved to be pepper-sprayed. Fox News has turned my father into Marie Antoinette!

    • Dex

      I’ve heard many elderly relatives proclaim their hatred for “that Nancy Pelosi”…none of whom can correctly identify what office she holds now, or used to hold at their height of her career. They just know that they’ve been told they should hate her.

      • LFC

        Good point. Actually I’ve never heard much, if any, specifics out of anybody that hates Nancy Pelosi. They just hate her. It’s the perfect combination of highly virulent yet completely mindless.

        • armstp

          Just ask people why they hate Pelosi and they almost always have no idea and certainly nothing meaningfully specific about Pelosi they hate.

          I guess that is what tens of millions of dollars of generic hate Pelosi advertising in 2010 will do.

  • maxfieldj

    I am a 64 year old baby boomer. In my youth I was very liberal in my views. In those days I saw everything in black and white, there was no middle ground in my opinion. I thought the 60′s even with the assasinations produced some real changes for the good. As I aged I came to understand that there are no simple answers. My views have moved to the center as many of the people I have known all my life. None of my circle could be labeled a conservative as I understand the term, but they are no longer died in the wool liberals. I think we moved to the center because experience taught us that the only solutions that can be achieved is compromise.

    I agree with another writer that the media today has failed in its responsibility. I remember in my youth when all three national news programs were an hour in length and covered the news more in depth with less stories that should be on Today or another of those type of shows. Todays national news programs are about 22 minutes, subtract 8 minutes for some human interest story and you have about 16 minutes of news. Is it any wonder that people tune into the cable channels with hour on end of “news”.

    One thing I hate about local news programs is where they waste time talking about what they did over the weekend. When I was 10 years old our local TV news consisted of a man siting in front of a background at a desk and reading the news for an hour.

    Democracy is not a free lunch its success depends on an informed electorate. You will not be informed watching Keith Oberman or Glen Beck. It means spending as much time researching the issues as is spent on following sports. A Russian imagre friend told me that it amused him to see people on public transportation throw everything in a newspaper away except for the sports page. If you read the Nation then you should also read the National Review. Avoid demagogues on the right and the left.

    I used to watch all of the Sunday news programs. I don’t anymore because they have the same people on repeatedly and you have seen and heard them so many times you already know what they are going to say, there is nothing new to learn. These shows have become as predictable as Beck and Oberman.

    .

    • valkayec

      Agreed. I only choose to watch Fareed Zakaria any more…and if I remember to watch the end of Face the Nation ’cause I love Bob Schieffer’s ending monologues. He has a uniquely wry humor.

    • JohnMcC

      Ah my friend Max, the years do funny things to our memories, no? I am a 66yr old fella, actually born in Dec of ’45 which makes me actually too old for the appelation ‘Baby Boomer’. That cohort is usually identified as born after Jan 1st of ’46. I guess I’m the youngest of the ‘Silent Generation’.

      The first network national news shows were actually only 15 minutes. The way I recall it, there was 15 minutes of local news followed by 15 minutes of Edward R Murrow.

      The hour-long shows that you might be remembering were produced by the news departments but didn’t cover current events. They were historical and in-depth presentations like “You Were There” and “See It Now” that depicted historical events “as if” they were covered by television. I still recall a cigarette-smoking Murrow “covering” the Constitutional Convention.

      Pleasure to hear from another old ’60s era guy here!

  • valkayec

    I vaguely remember reading this blog post months ago. It confirmed for me my previous decision to never watch Fox News. I cringe whenever my 40-something daughter and son-in-law even mention watching some Fox News program.

    Something else which one of the previous commenters noted: those are “public airways” on which Fox et al broadcast. It would seem that somehow the public has the right to demand that shows clearly labeled as news, broadcast on publicly owned airways, disseminate veriable truth, not propaganda. Privately owned media outlets, such as newspapers and blog sites, can say whatever they want because they are privately owned and use no publicly owned system of transmission.

  • mannie

    FOX is toxic anathema to intelligent discourse.