Saturday, September 04, 2010

The problem with Faux News

What should progressives think about Faux News North?

Why are progressives so alarmed about SunTV? Liberals and progressives support free speech and a broad diversity or views. So why so much angst over SunTV - which if they really do follow the Faux News model, much of their vitriol is little more than fodder for humourists and their supposed logic is readily debunked?

The problem with Faux News is not with the message it's about the volume and persistence of the message. It's like that whack-a-mole game, you can't squash all of the lies. It's not just SunTV. It's the National Post, the Fraser Institute, the Manning Centre, the Sun newspapers, etc. The one thing they are good at is staying on message. By pushing the same lies out through multiple channels with dogged persistence, the right ends up controlling the language, and when that happens the battle is won. Look at the 2004 Presidential campaign in the US as an example. How did John Kerry's heroic military service end up being a liability against an opponent whose daddy pulled strings to get him out of active service? Kerry couldn't talk about Bush's cowardly wartime conduct without being constantly hectored by swiftboat lies. So in the end, he just said "we both served honorably".

Is it much ado about nothing? I mean Brian Lilley, Margarette Wente, Ezra Levant, Krista Erickson, David Aikin and Co. pale in comparison to the pundits the US has to offer. And no one really gives much credence to what the likes of Rush, Glen Beck, Bill O'Reily, Sean Hannity or Ann Coulter have to say. These extreme views however end up framing the issue. By staking out ground on the far right, it makes it more difficult, from that perspective, to distinguish the centre (or center) from the left. It's also not what they say - it's how often and persistent it is said. The average consumer of news and analysis is bombarded by the extreme right. If you repeat a lie often enough, regardless of how completely it has been discredited, it gets embedded in the popular consciousness.

If you mention global warming, someone will without fail bring up the "hockey stick" as if the Mann/Bradley/Hughes study was actually ever discredited and as if it were the only study to ever show the dramatic rise in global temperatures in the last century. We have our own example in Canada - a boatload of Tamil refugees shows up off the BC coast and most Canadian now believe that this represent a dangerous and massive influx of refugees (who must be terrorists). On average, over 100 refugees PER DAY arrive at airports across Canada. And refugees are not "jumping" the immigration queue. There are no queues or quotas for refugees. According to international conventions and treaties, each case is dealt with on its own merits with due process.

Unfortunately, it is not in the nature or character progressives to stay on message the way the right can and does. We embrace diversity, and with that comes a diversity of issues, concerns, priorities, and messages.

7 comments:

CoteGauche said...

Oops - edited. Somehow I got the Toronto Star into the list of "right wing" voices.

Very much not true.

Anonymous said...

I've crapped things with higher IQ's than Kory.

Bring on Faux News North, I can use the laugh.

kitt said...

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."

“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over”

Joseph Goebbels

Anonymous said...

ALL mainstream media in Canada has taints of the 'right'. Even the CBC continues to quote from QMI - own by Quebecor, which is petitioning for the CRTC license - and the National Post.

The Star: owned by CTV, so I would still place them in the 'right' of spectrum, despite letting their journalists espouse more 'left' leanings. Ultimately, it was the Star - Canada's largest daily newspaper - that endorsed the Cons in the dying days of the last election.

Scott Tribe said...

The Star is not owned by CTV: CTV is part of a consortium with the Globe and Mail.

Tomm said...

Does this post espouse press censorship? If so, am I correct in assuming it is because we are too stupid to mentally weed out the right wing stuff, so we need to stop it from polluting our airwaves? How about the left wing stuff?

I'm taking this to mean that a Fox News type station will successfully bend the will of the less intelligent among us. It sounds like you think it will be a success.

Should we censor Margaret Atwood?

CoteGauche said...

Did I mention censorship?

More fear from the right.