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Civilization Watch
First appeared in print in The The Rhino Times, Greensboro, NC
By Orson Scott Card March 13, 2014

Those Liars at Fox News

The other day I was listening to a thirty-something whose opinions I have long respected, when I heard him, just in passing, ridicule an idea with a sentence like: "That sounds like it comes from Fox News."

The context made the meaning clear: If something sounds stupid, absurd, made-up, false, fraudulent, or blown out of proportion, then you dismiss it by saying, "Sounds like Fox News."

Now, this man is a genuine moderate: conservative in some views, liberal in others -- rather like me, though our lists differ here and there.

But he lives in one of the bluest of blue states, and is surrounded by friends and co-workers who are reflexively (but not reflectively) of the Left.

He hears Fox News ridiculed or dismissed in exactly that way, and it has become part of his vocabulary. That's how the human brain works: Whatever the people around us repeat, we tend to accept as part of the consensus reality. It's how we define sanity.

Even when the idea that everyone is accepting is, in fact, insane.

Fox News bills itself as "fair and balanced." "We report, you decide," they say to their viewers. These slogans infuriate the Left, and no one more than the Leftist media -- which happens to be everybody else in television news.

However, independent evaluators repeatedly come up with the same answers, when they compare all the broadcast news media. MSNBC is so far to the Left that if you watch them, you'll be living in a complete Leftist bubble. But the other major networks aren't far behind.

Fox News, however, hovers right around the middle of the spectrum, covering stories that favor or disfavor either side, without any significant pattern of bias.

Note that I'm talking about the news, not the prime time commentators. In prime time, Sean Hannity is definitely of the Right, and Bill O'Reilly leans more toward the libertarian slot, which overlaps on various issues with both Left and Right.

Even the more impartial commentators tend to lean to the Right, but perhaps that's because the American "intellectual" elite are so far to the Left that taking a thoughtful, moderate position sounds right-wing by comparison.

But the reportage on Fox News -- fact rather than opinion -- is even-handed, regardless of whose ox is being gored.

I didn't need a study to tell me this. I have known almost from the start of Fox News that if I watched CNN or NBC or ABC (I couldn't watch that smug old liar, Dan Rather, so CBS was always out of the question), there were stories I heard nothing, or almost nothing, about. While if I watched Fox News, I always knew about everything.

Fox covers the stories everybody's covering -- i.e., the sensationalistic ones, and the ones that make Republicans look bad. But they also cover the ones that, on the other networks, don't exist -- you know, the ones that might hurt Democrats' chances of getting or staying in office.

So if there's a huge demonstration for a liberal cause -- pro-abortion, for instance -- everybody reports it; but if there's an even bigger one for the conservative view, only Fox reports it, unless something is said that can be used to make the Right look stupid and ridiculous, in which case we hear no end of it.

So why don't we all watch Fox and ignore the ones who tell us only half the story?

First, people prefer hearing news that makes them feel comfortable in their views. Therefore, people of the Left far prefer the Leftist media, because they're forever savaging Republicans and giving only worshipful coverage of the Left. This reaffirms the belief of "intellectuals" that they're smarter than everyone, and only stupid people turn to "guns and religion."

Second, there is a deliberate campaign by the competing networks and others of the elite to dismiss and denigrate Fox News.

People who work in the Leftist media know they are not giving full, honest coverage. The decision to cover or not-cover various stories is openly stated within the newsroom.

For instance, in 2008 they made the deliberate decision to go after Sarah Palin with everything they had -- while making no effort whatsoever to verify or challenge anything about Barack Obama's carefully crafted public image. This was nakedly done -- but everybody acted as if it was perfectly natural for "reporters" to go into attack mode against one candidate, while respectfully printing the press releases of the other.

The reporters know that if they tell the truth, people not might vote for the Correct Candidates, and therefore the public interest is much better served if they deliver only the news stories that will promote their Correct Causes.

But in the back of their mind, these people remember that at some point they got into the news business because they thought the public had a right to know and then make up their own minds. They probably even heard the theory that this is why the news media function as part of our political system, because an uninformed public can't make good decisions.

Day after day, they watch news decisions being made, in which important stories are buried or treated as if they don't matter, or in which the official White House press releases are treated as if they were gospel truth, and no information that might contradict them is reported.

But the opposite occurs when a Republican or a conservative cause or even a pro-American story is involved -- then every word is questioned and doubted, contradictory information is stated even when it's obviously false or slanted.

Reporters who got into the business in order to tell the truth get a growing sense of discomfort and, eventually, anger over the fact that even when they do the reporting, it never makes it on the air or into the newspaper.

But what can they do?

Well, they could quit their jobs. They could tell the truth in a book.

The most recent example is Sharyl Attkisson, who recently left CBS. She said little about her reasons, but others have leapt to the conclusion that she left in frustration because her reports on Benghazi and other situations were not getting on the air.

The Leftist media put it this way: "The bulk of Attkisson's work since 2009 has focused on the failures or perceived failures of the Obama administration, including the administration's failed green energy investments and the attack in Benghazi, though she has reported on several Republican failures as well." (From Politico.)

This made her completely out of step with CBS News, for the very good reason that the Leftist media do not report negatively on the Obama administration. If the story must be told and cannot be spun, the reports are brief and there is no follow-through.

Attkisson, though, kept digging deeper, discovering the lies and coverups. And since these made Obama's administration look bad -- as the truth usually does -- of course her stories didn't make it on the air.

Attkisson is not "conservative," any more than Juan Williams was when he was driven from NPR for being insufficiently subservient to the Left. If you work for the Leftist media and yet insist on telling the truth, you will be called "right-wing" no matter how liberal you are.

Because the ideal of the "team player" is what dominates the media today. It's not about truth. The dogma of the Left is that there is no "truth" (a belief that evaporates the moment you want someone to give you directions) and so what really matters is that the "smart people" (i.e., the Left) make all the decisions for the dumb people (i.e., the great mass of voters).

In that context, then, solidarity is what matters, not truth. Reporters who insist on the truth are not team players. That means they are, in effect, anti-Obama. Therefore they must be shunned, ignored, diminished.

And because Fox News is actually doing the original job of journalists -- telling the truth as best they can, no matter whom it helps or hurts, thereby shaming the Leftist media -- then Fox News must be accused of the very things the Leftist Media do: Hiding or downplaying awkward news. Biasing everything so it favors the team.

It's the old totalitarian trick, and the Left have never stopped using it. Whatever you are actually guilty of, accuse the other guy of doing. That way, their accusations sound just as false as your own.

That's inside the news media, where everybody knows exactly what's going on. The Leftist media know they're distorting the news. The ones who are bothered by it keep their heads down so they don't lose their jobs. The True Believers are proud of using their positions to benefit the Leftist cause.

But outside the news media, there is still the assumption that consensus is fairly reached. If all the news outlets but one are telling the same story, then Fox News must be the crazy one, right?

This is especially true with the younger generation. "Educated" in the years since America stopped teaching history, the younger generation is used to being pounded with Leftist dogmas. They got it in school from teachers who were part of the Left-dominated National Education Association. Now they see it on the news.

The major networks couldn't all be lying! Jon Stewart and Jimmy Fallon always ridicule Republicans without even bothering to refute their ideas, because everybody knows that all Smart People think alike. And so the news outlets that reaffirm the Smart-People worldview must be the sane ones!

It's just like the years before World War II, when British publishers never released a translation of Mein Kampf because if Hitler's actual plans were known, it might lead the general public to think Britain ought to be preparing for war. The Smart People in those days all knew that another war was unthinkable. So they suppressed obvious truths in order to shape public opinion Correctly.

But hiding the truth doesn't make the truth go away. Eventually, the test of sanity isn't really "what everybody else believes," but rather "how the world actually works."

So right now, Smart People in the blue states, people against guns and religion, all "know" the same "truth," and to them, Fox News obviously must be a bunch of liars.

Except that Fox News isn't lying. The other guys are.

And when the economy collapses under the weight of Obama's insane economic policies, and the world becomes infinitely more dangerous and free nations are conquered and oppressed because Obama abdicated America's exceptional role in the world, then it will be plain that the "mainstream" media systematically lied to us for decades.

Then we'll see that only Fox News, of all the broadcast media, told it like it was. Just as only Winston Churchill warned the British people of the danger that Hitler posed.

And when the truth stood nakedly revealed, and could no longer be hidden from the people, then the Smart People of that day were seen to be not just wrong, not just stupid, but dishonest as well.

Meanwhile, I keep cringing when I hear people ridicule Fox News. They used to mock Churchill that way, too.

Ain't nothin' dumber than Smart People who don't bother to find out the truth.

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