Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Texting, Texting, One Two Three

So Fox “News” knew it was lying about Trump’s election lies. It’s an important insight into today’s eroding political landscape, raising questions for which there may not be time to answer, much less rectify, before democracy dies, beginning in homes where Fox blares nonstop and unquestioned.

It’s not the revelation itself that’s significant; after all, people having observational abilities within two standard deviations of the median reckoned the network’s mendacity ever since “Fair and Balanced.” Fox is to news what prison food is to fine dining. It's why I’ve never written Fox “news” without quotation marks.  

Dragged from the darkness by the $1.6B Dominion Voting Systems defamation lawsuit against Fox, texts between Carlson, Hannity, and Ingraham expose their unalloyed derision of guests pushing Trump’s claims of fraud. Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and others; even Trump himself. 

Worse, though, was their justification for continuing to lie, as seen in Tucker’s reaction to Fox reporter Jacqui Heinrich, who dared to fact-check Trump’s claim of destroyed ballots. After the Foxified audience flooded their website with vitriol toward the truth-teller, Tucker texted to his co-conspirators, “Please get her fired. Seriously... what the f...? It’s measurably hurting the company. The stock price is down.” There aren’t words strong enough for how shameful that is. Riches above all, democracy be damned. 

There are dire implications: Numerous studies have shown neurophysiological differences between the brains of liberals and conservatives. Different areas light up on scans when shown frightening or disgusting images, for example. The backfire effect, wherein beliefs are hardened after being presented with facts that disprove them, is more common in conservatives. Differences have been shown in empathy, openness to change, and more.  

Thoughts form within billions of neurons. Different thoughts could be expected to arise from separate areas. The question, then, is whether the divergent pathways are acquired, or inborn. As opposed to the so-called “Twitter files,” debunked laughably by self-inflicted wounds delivered from Gymnasium Jordan’s own subcommittee, the Fox files raise meaningful questions: Are Fox and similarly amoral media playing to a preborn audience, or creating one? Does the brain choose its source, or does the source produce the brain?

It’d be interesting to investigate. Babies aren’t born racist or homophobic or hateful of others, for instance. Those attitudes must be taught. What might we learn from studies done on people having “neutral” scans, if such exist? What if they were randomly divided into groups, one of which was constantly exposed only to right-wing media; the other only to, let’s call them, “honest” ones? If scanned again, sometime later, would those liberal/conservative neurophysiological differences have appeared? Would both brains have changed, or is “liberal” the baseline? Would changes be permanent? Would permanence depend on length of exposure? 

Given the plasticity of the human brain, its ability to repurpose remaining parts after a stroke, it’s likely the answers would be yes. If so, lying media, intentionally appealing to viewers’ worst instincts, keeping them constantly enraged, are causing irreversible damage in brains and, in turn, to America. Deliberately. For stock prices. 

The revealed texts won’t penetrate those brains. Fox knows it, and won’t stop. There’s big money in it. Consider the toxic train tragedy in Palestine, Ohio: Foxians immediately criticized Transportation Secretary Buttigieg’s and President Biden’s response, even though Governor DeWine acknowledged Biden offered help immediately, which he rejected. Tucker is mongering that it’s a result of anti-white, liberal racism. Nor have he or his accomplices mentioned Trump’s pigheaded killing of President Obama’s regulations intended to prevent exactly that kind of disaster. Did Trump, on his photo-op there? 

The harm caused by electing the Foxified is only increasing. Michigan’s GOP just chose as its president a rabidly election-denying anti-vaxxer, who calls evolution “one of the biggest frauds ever perpetuated on society.” Idaho’s elected a similar. Presidential candidate Nikki Haley had as her campaign-kickoff prayer-giver “Pastor” John Hagee, who blames natural disasters on gays; and she enthusiastically accepted the endorsement of rabid election-denier, General Don Bolduc, who considers vaccines delivery devices for Bill Gates’ microchips.

Idaho’s GOP legislators want to criminalize providing vaccines. Arizona’s then-Attorney General had documents proving no election fraud and kept them hidden. MTG is babbling secession. Hannity likes it. Kevin McCarthy gave exclusive access to video of the insurrection to Russian propagandist and inveterate liar Tucker Carlson, who’ll now know the location of every security camera and safe room in the Capitol, while he creates out-of-context, edited compilations. Top to bottom, it’s dishonesty as policy.

Those inculpating texts won’t restore Foxed-up politicians and their voters to sanity. The slimmest of hope for democracy is Fox being sued into extinction or, improbably, rejoining America as a partner. Then, upcoming generations might rise above lesser forms of brainwashing, compared to the lies of Fox “news,” in whose victims truth-rejecting brain modification appears eternal.

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