ALTERNATE REALITY

I traveled for most of today, so I was largely limited to Twitter for getting news updates throughout the day. On the plus side, airports are among the few places in which I can get in some good, quality Fox News watching time.

It is impossible to understand politics in this country without watching Fox News on occasion. By that I mean the beliefs and words of people who watch it for hours and hours every day or consume smaller amounts but with great regularity will never make sense unless you watch it on occasion. It isn't pleasant to watch, admittedly. But you could have watched Fox News from sunrise to sunset today without being aware of what two Trump campaign staffers were indicted for and the (very significant) revelation that a third already plead guilty to lying to investigators about campaign contacts with Russian officials and people they believed to be relatives of Vladimir Putin.

If you're totally out of the habit of watching it, give it another shot. Lately it has been on another level. I'm used to them crowd-testing right wing talking points as excuses for prominent Republicans, and I expected more of that today. Instead, as is becoming increasingly common regarding the network and Trump, their approach is simply to ignore it. Maybe they hope that if they don't answer the front door, the bill collector will go away.

Seriously, it was largely absent from their programming for most of the day. What they did say about the day's news was vague and gave no real impression of what happened or the seriousness of it. It (predictably) veered immediately into accusations about Hillary Clinton (the REAL Russia scandal) and then quickly to something else. ANYTHING else. At one point this afternoon, I shit you not, they spent 20 minutes talking about emojis, something about a cheeseburger emoji. As I type this, Tucker Carlson is interviewing "Dilbert" cartoonist Scott Adams about "The real Russia scandal." I'll give you three guesses what it is.

Imagine watching this all day, every day. Imagine getting your news from there and nowhere else. What would the inside of your brain look like? How many key pieces of reality would be missing from your worldview? Everyone has a relative or friend who has been lost to Fox News, and just a little dose is enough to remind me how it could happen. It's not, as it has often been in the past, a different spin on the news anymore. It is a complete, self-contained alternate universe. No wonder it's impossible to talk to Uncle Steve anymore.

Here in the real world, the Papadopolous thing is huge. Really. Look at the timeline, and ask yourself what purpose was served by arresting him in secret. I'd be VERY surprised if he wasn't scared shitless and then easily talked into wearing a wire for six or eight weeks. And I, for one, can't wait to hear what's on the tapes. The plot is thickening.

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52 Responses to “ALTERNATE REALITY”

  1. c u n d gulag Says:

    While 'the plot is thickening,' 'the subject of the investigaction in sickening:'
    He is sickening everyone who's not a conservative politician and/or a MAGA sycophant.

    As for (DUMB)FUX "news," it's not just a propoganda network, it is a Zombie network.
    It 'done et' the brains of everyone who started to watch it regularly.

    Once you start watching it for something besides research, abandon all hope (for getting along with others), logic, and contact with reality:
    "You have entered the FOXlight Zone…"

    Dementia and Alzheimers, welcome another brain/mind/memory addling disease to your hideous club:
    FOXHeimersMentia.

    And like its partners in the rotting of brains, FOXHeimersMentia has no known cure.

  2. monsterzero Says:

    I can't wait to hear Trump testify under oath. Please god just ask him one question and then let him go on as long as he wants. If he stops talking, keep silently looking at him and in at most ten seconds he'll start talking again. This could go on for hours.

    Actually now it occurs to me that just having him testify under oath would be suborning perjury. My bad.

  3. Kevin Says:

    I got rid of cable a few years ago and just use streaming video. Firestick, HBO and netflix. Get my news from Twitter and a few blogs or websites.

    I gave up on tv. Even sports is ruined. Movies have been ruined for years, and the news is a vast talking heads shitshow. Good riddance..

  4. Aurora S Says:

    With all the social engineering that takes place on social media by people with agendas to sell, the twatter machine probably isn't your most reliable news source.

  5. Kaleberg Says:

    At least lousy cellphone voice quality has been killing call in talk radio.

  6. mago Says:

    Thickening like pudding all right.
    Daily activity forms character.
    Swampies one and all.

  7. Alex SL Says:

    As I type this, Tucker Carlson is interviewing "Dilbert" cartoonist Scott Adams about "The real Russia scandal."

    Wait, what? Why is that guy considered to be an expert on anything beyond how to draw Dilbert Cartoons?

  8. wetcasements Says:

    Speaking as a FOX News orphan (I'm pretty much not welcome in my father's house any longer, but hey, the feeling is mutual) Ed, you're 100% right.

    My dad is a well educated, formerly world-traveling professional (scientist for — wait for it — the US government). He's also quite old now, and basically a parody of a MAGA-head.

    Being able to have adult conversations with him was nice. And now literally impossible.

  9. Major Kong Says:

    Fox is always one at least one of the TV monitors in Flight Ops.

    I've started calling it the "Angry White Guy" network.

    Every time I walk by there's some square-headed white guy pissed off about something on there. I don't even have to know who they are or what they're saying. Just the overall tone is enough to set me off.

  10. jcdenton Says:

    @Alex SL

    Scott Adams is a massive MAGA chud, inveterate sexist and in some ways the prototypical tech bro. He's not an expert on anything except peddling conspiracy theories about how Trump is playing 11th-dimensional chess instead of sundowning. Hence, he's a favourite Fox guest.

    @wetcasement

    Relevant: http://www.thebrainwashingofmydad.com/

  11. jcdenton Says:

    Fox News: Hey, who else can we deflect this shit on?

    https://twitter.com/jonfavs/status/925143454543310848

  12. ~cgrayson Says:

    […] Burmila, about Fox News: "It's not, as it has often been in the past, a different spin on the news anymore. It […]

  13. Major Kong Says:

    Pravda had more shame than Fox News.

  14. Tim H. Says:

    Not just the "Faux" news, "Preachers" at funnymentalist "churches" have been pushing a conservative agenda.

  15. Sour Kraut Says:

    @Major Kong,

    I have more respect for the old-school communists than people who believe Fox News. Say what you will about the Soviets, at least they knew Pravda was lying to them.

  16. Keifus Says:

    At one point this afternoon, I shit you not, they spent 20 minutes talking about emojis, something about a cheeseburger emoji

    Wait, so instead of the Manafort indictment, they talked about a literal nothingburger?

  17. Katydid Says:

    @ MajorKong; a big difference I'm seeing is that Russians (generally speaking) back in the day of the USSR realized the news they were getting fed was carefully edited. The Fox-watchers? Not so much.

    I've spent a good deal of the last few days in the car and tuned to NPR, which is shockingly right-wing at times, and at other is more centrist. I've now listened to two different hosts talking about the situation in DC and taking callers. One guy started out screaming about how Trump was the most persecuted president EVER, and how as a successful businessman, he was able to leverage his acumen into reducing the federal debt by trillions of dollars just in the past 6 months. The guy was sobbing (I swear I am not making this up) as he lamented over and over how persecuted Trump has been. The second one dealt with the latest mess, and the caller wanted everyone to know how Hillary Clinton intalled Manafort as a covert operative (starting with Reagan in 1976, then Bob Dole, then both Bush presidents–these Clintons are all-knowing and all-powerful!) for the express purpose of trying to undermine Donald Trump's run…in 2016.

    Neither host tried to correct them–I suspect because there was no getting a word in. It was chilling to hear the True Believers ™ repeat the lies.

  18. Katydid Says:

    The irony; last night I turned on the tv news to catch the local weather. The CBS station led with the shocking story (brace yourself) that two teenage boys had dressed inappropriately for a Halloween party the previous weekend and the pics ended up on social media (told you you'd be shocked!).

    They simply would not get to the weather, so I switched to Fox, who surprisingly MENTIONED the whole Papadopolus/Manafort/Gates brouhaha. They didn't go into much detail, but at least they weren't having conniptions over 15-year-old boys and their costumes.

  19. Mo Says:

    We're not just in the throes of an opioid epidemic – validation is an even more addicting drug. 60 million American voters.

    And don't get me started on religion.

  20. Brian M Says:

    Mo:

    Be careful.

    Even the Opioid Epidemic is to some extent another example of hysterical American Moral Panic, ginned up to some extent by Hezbollah (God's Own Party).

    Katydid: My brother, a very intelligent man, told me breathlessly that Hillary had sold the Communist Chinee our nuclear secrets for campaign cash, which is why the North Koreans are now building missiles.

  21. Mo Says:

    Brian –

    Yeah, I know. Heroin has always been popular.

    I think it was the oxy profiteering thing that added a new twist – "respectable""legal" pharmaceutical companies making huge bank off pill mills run by the usual criminal suspects.

    Finally some people got wise, and now we're back to good ol' heroin again?

    Plus racism sauce, as usual. Hillbilly heroin as a so much more awful awful awful epidemic than crack.

  22. Gerald McGrew Says:

    Ed sez: "It is impossible to understand politics in this country without watching Fox News on occasion."

    Definitely. I've listened to Limbaugh, Hannity, Prager, Seculow, Gallager, and Levin for years. My friends all say I'm crazy for doing so and wonder how a staunch liberal like me can stand it.

    My answer is basically what Ed said above…..if you want to understand modern American politics, you HAVE to pay attention to right-wing media.

    After all, it would be hypocritical to criticize right-wingers for living in the "Fox News bubble" while at the same time refusing to listen to or read anything from the right yourself.

  23. Mo Says:

    Recently I read London TV producer Peter Pomerantsev's Nothing Is True and Everything is Possible

    He gets right into it in the first few pages:

    My first meeting took me to the top floor of Ostankino, the television center the size of five football fields that is the battering ram of Kremlin propaganda. On the top floor, down a series of matt-black corridors, is a long conference room. Here Moscow's flashiest minds met for the weekly brainstorming session to decide what Ostankino would broadcast. …

    At the end of the table sat one of the country's most famous political TV presenters. He is small and speaks fast, with a smoky voice:

    "We all know there will be no real politics. But we still have to give our viewers the sense something is happening. They need to be kept entertained. So what should we play with? Shall we attack oligarchs? [He continued,] Who's the enemy this week? Politics has got to feel like . . . a movie!"

    The first thing the President had done when he came to power in 2000 was to seize control of television. It was television through which the Kremlin decided which politicians it would "allow" as its puppet-opposition, what the country's history and fears and consciousness should be. And the new Kremlin won't make the same mistake the old Soviet Union did: it will never let TV become dull. The task is to synthesize Soviet control with Western entertainment. Twenty-first-century Ostankino mixes show business and propaganda, ratings with authoritarianism.

  24. Vinny Says:

    It doesn't matter. The Republicans are afraid of the Trump base. Trump will have Mueller fired on Friday night, and the Republicans will do nothing about it. Graham, Corker and McCain will scream about it, and nothing will happen. We need a Revolution.

  25. JustRuss Says:

    " And I, for one, can't wait to hear what's on the tapes." And I hope we don't get to hear them for some time. Because the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is the Trump administration has to be going crazy from not knowing what they may or may have been recorded as saying, which is going to make lying their way out of this a hell of a lot harder.

  26. Noskilz Says:

    The curious thing is that it seems to be what many of the people watching it want – there are other numbers on the remote. There is no shortage of news venues online and off, even if one doesn't feel like going cold turkey and jumping ship, it isn't as if it's hard to go "channel X is saying this, channel Y that, how about I do a little legwork and see who's snowing me?"

    Perhaps they just like stories more than they like facts, particularly since those facts are probably not going to make them very happy. But there's an opt-in quality to this mess that 's important: these people are being clumsily lied to on a regular basis, and they keep coming back for more. Why they want this, you'd have to ask them -I assume it does something along flattering a particular set of worldviews – but it seems to be going rather Jonestown to me.

  27. Katydid Says:

    @BrianM: yeah, my sister and my parents have fallen into the Fox-hole. Last weekend I got to hear how Hillary colluded with the Russians to *lose* the election so she could something something something and attack Trump. Also, Hillary could never have made a good president because she's got hormones and is therefore irrational (my word) and unpredictable. Yeah, good thing we don't have a president like THAT, huh?

    Re: opiods; I'm getting really sick of hearing about those poor, poor (white) innocents who took A SINGLE oxycodone pill and went immediately into raging addiction (does anyone else remember the episode of Taxi that featured a clean-cut Harvard student who had a single bite of a pot-laced brownie and morphed instantly into The Reverend Jim character?) and of course it's all the fault of the HORRIBLE MALICIOUS DOCTORS. So unlike the minorities who are so depraved they choose to get addicted, amirite?

  28. Skwerlhugger Says:

    No need to torment yourself, just scan the home page headlines for a minute every day. If you don't do this, you have an incomplete picture of what is happening in America.

  29. Major Kong Says:

    The first thing that a cult does is tell you that everyone else is lying to you.

  30. Safety Man! Says:

    My dad is a retired engineer who spent his entire career working for the Air Force. The last few years though, he’s started repeating this nonsense about “fake news” and “libtards”. I never understood how government workers could identify with this trash and it realize that Hannity. et al. are talking about them.

    About keeping in then nut loop, I try to read National Review. I’ll probably have to switch soon, because NR is in hot water for not drinking the Kool Aid. Anyway, it’s nice to read an article and disagree, and have factual basis for doing so, even if they piss me off sometimes.

    Scott Adams is used because the right has this looney idea that the real reason they’re losing the culture war is branding, and not their insane ideas (let’s cheer letting people die in the streets! Taxes or something!), so they seize any media personality that agrees with them as a champion.

  31. mago Says:

    Jumpin down the rabbit hole.

  32. Katydid Says:

    @SafetyMan!; it cracks me up when I see government workers with bumper stickers calling for smaller gov't. I always think to myself, "Great, we can start by cutting YOUR job!"

  33. Katydid Says:

    I think Scott Adams is used because he had a real heyday in the 1990s with his Dilbert comic strips. He captured the absurdity and the casual cruelty of work and the sociopaths in the management class. That doesn't make him an expert on anything else.

  34. Brian M Says:

    I must confess I read, with some guilt because he IS such a choad, Dilbert. He has not totally lost that, at least.

    Government leech here, Katydid. It seems to be a class thing. The "boys in the back" (building inspectors with backgrounds in the trades) are mostly ardent Trumpalos and some are Ammosexuals as well. I argue with them a lot (still good naturedly), but communications from the one retired former coworker who used to send emails around showing Air Force One as a watermelon truck and various Breitbart level conspiracy theories-those emails go straight into the delete file.

  35. Karl Kolchak Says:

    I can't imagine watching Fox News for more than 5 minutes, any more than I can stand watching CNN or MSNBC or any of the major networks KNOWING that I am basically getting corporate America, Pentagon and intelligence community approved pablum that emphasizes the sensational and often trivial while the corruption and rot at the very heart of the entire system remains largely ignored.

  36. NickT Says:

    Well, I hear what people are saying about experiencing the crazy – but Trump is now pulling 33/34% favorable in the polls and roughly half the country thinks impeaching him would be a good idea, so… on the whole I think we might be starting to emerge from Peak Cuckwork Orange.

    Bear in mind that so far we've seen only a tiny fraction of what Mueller knows – and Trump is obviously terrified and enraged.

    The person who worries me in all of this is John Kelly. He's letting his inner authoritarian white Southern racist out to play in ways that suggest he doesn't plan to go quietly.

  37. Dave Dell Says:

    I'm more afraid of a Pence Presidency – with the exception of nuclear war – than 3 more years of Trump.

    I don't need to watch Fox News. I get plenty of exposure to it at DailyKos and by watching Stephen Colbert.

  38. democommie Says:

    @ Brian M:

    I don't have to deal with people who send e-mails like the ones you get from your ex-associate. If I did, I would just forward them to his boss.

    As for the "Watermelon Truck"; maybe a re-do of the current P.O.S.US's ride as a pimpmobile?

    As for watching FuckTheNew'sCorpse and their illk–Thanks, Ed! Now I don't gotta GET brain cancer to see how it works.

  39. geoff Says:

    Down south here, a good place to catch Fox is in fast food places, like McDonald's and Wendy's. It's a fairly new phenomenon, and an irritating one. Makes me wonder if their real audience is the (usually mythical but in this case real) "small business owner" (aka fast food franchisee) who have always probably been kind of reactionary ("OMG THESE TAXES ARE KILLING MY BIDNESS!!"). So yeah, I only watch Fox when I'm in a hurry and need to feed my filet o' fish habit, but like noskilz try to listen to wingnut radio when I can. There's nothing like Rush Limbaugh ranting about "Barack Hussein Obama" being a Marxist socialist atheist (I thought he was a Muslim?) to cheer me up a little. (Yes, they usually just piss me off, but you take your lols where you can these days.)

    As for Fox's appeal, surprised no one has mentioned the short skirt club. There are a LOT of pretty young women showing a lot of leg, and surely that draws in a fair share of men. I can't imagine the Ailes harassment stuff surprised anyone who's ever seen Fox) Add in daily doses of fear to the over the top sex appeal and I'm sure there's some kinda limbic reaction I'm entirely unqualified to discuss which HOOKS the viewer like cocaine.

    (Fuck if I know. I spend too much time reading the news, but I've sworn off the tube for that stuff. It's too Bill Hicks' "AIDS-WAR-DEATH!!" CNN joke for me to handle anymore.)

  40. Tim H. Says:

    A GOP candidate for State Senate has promised on TV to attack the (Prescription!) opioid crisis by getting tough on pushers… The mind boggles.

  41. Safety Man! Says:

    I’ve never understood the watermelon trope. As a white southerner, I can promise you I ate a LOT of watermelon in my childhood.

    Protip: if you drive along the roads where the watermelon trucks transport, you can often find watermelons growing in the ditches where previous years melons fell of the truck and seeded. We did that a lot too.

  42. Brian M Says:

    Fox is on one or two of the televisions at my gym. Luckily, they also offer a "9,000 foot room". Have read mixed reviews of the science of high altitude training, but it does seem to make me breathe a little harder, and more importantly, no television screen screaming in my face.

  43. Mo Says:

    As for Fox's appeal, surprised no one has mentioned the short skirt club. There are a LOT of pretty young women showing a lot of leg, and surely that draws in a fair share of men. I can't imagine the Ailes harassment stuff surprised anyone who's ever seen Fox) Add in daily doses of fear to the over the top sex appeal and I'm sure there's some kinda limbic reaction I'm entirely unqualified to discuss which HOOKS the viewer like cocaine.

    Yep. Have waded through Sapolsky's latest, Behave, a couple of times now, and each time I get more freaked from this little tour of the limbic system and prefrontal cortex, System 1 and System 2 in Kahneman's rough analogy. And I thought he was scary a decade ago when he casually linked religious belief to psychoses such as obsessive compulsiveness.

    Or, as I like to say 'way too much: Validation is a hell of a drug.

  44. mothra Says:

    Brian:
    As I understand it, you need to be at high altitude for a few weeks at least to get the additional blood vessel creation benefit.

    Was just in Tucson with my sister and her squeeze. Stayed at a generic hotel with a breakfast room (that they hilariously called "The Paradise Room"). Of course, teevee was turned on to Fox on Monday morning and my sister's squeeze was quietly going about having breakfast in paradise when another patron started squawking about Mueller being a criminal and should be imprisoned, uranium and what -have-you. My sister's squeeze tried to speak with the man rationally, but angry Foxhead wasn't having it and nearly came to blows–my sister's squeeze left the room to avoid it. My sister mentioned to the guy at the front desk that it might not be a great idea to have Fox News on their teevee and suggested instead some inane morning show. I suggested the Cartoon Network. Or the Weather Channel.

  45. Katydid Says:

    @Mothra; the last time we stayed in a hotel, the entire family loudly heckled the Fox "news" crew by stating the facts…and made a couple of single guys get up and leave in disgust. Victory!

    Re: the short-skirt club; I usually watch the local CBS channel for weather. The anchors are all reasonably-attractive tv folks, and I never really paid attention to the women's outfits before just recently, where now the women are all wearing sleeveless or cap-sleeved blouses with random slits cut into their blouses to reveal cleavage. I wonder if they're as uncomfortable as they look? Occasionally one of the women will revert back to "random attractive professional attire" (jackets and shells) and it's such a contrast.

  46. Katydid Says:

    @Tim: I'd really love to meet one of the pill pushers–my life has been an example of the complete opposite. At various times I've found myself in the hospital or recovering after a medical procedure and been in serious pain, but whenever I've asked for pain relief, it's been denied. WHERE are these doctors who just randomly hand out garbage bags full of prescription drugs?

  47. Major Kong Says:

    Sometimes I think these people are addicted to anger.

    Even when they control all three branches of government and something like 2/3 of the state governments they still seem to be pissed off most of the time. Except for when they're scared of whoever the boogeyman of the week is.

  48. Scotius Says:

    "Sometimes I think these people are addicted to anger. "

    I noticed that after the election. The Trump supporters I encountered were some of the angriest "sore winners" I can ever recall. I remember after Obama won in 2008 and Democrats also controlled the House and Senate. The biggest feeling I had was relief that government was no longer in the hands of the people who had crashed the economy and bogged us down in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  49. Katydid Says:

    I agree, they're addicted to the adrenaline rush of anger and need it to fuel themselves.

  50. Tim H. Says:

    Katydid, there must be some doctors doing it, and no, I haven't met one either, but I avoid medical care for financial reasons. BTW, remember when OSHA was trying to do something about repetitive stress injuries?

  51. Katydid Says:

    Tim, sadly, I do not recall OSHA trying to do anything about repetitive stress injuries. My customer doesn't let OSHA in; they have their own version, which is utterly useless.

  52. Tim H. Says:

    It was during the Clinton administration, had the potential to limit the demand for opioid prescriptions:
    http://chicagolegalnet.com/news-information/legal-updates/osha-sets-standards-to-limit-repetitive-stress-injuries-in-the-workplace/
    It would've been too much like the right thing.

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