Hurricane Dorian is bearing down on Florida. The residents are preparing, using their experience to guide them. They are minimizing their exposure to potential damage and storing provisions in case of disaster.
This is a sane, rational action in the face of a storm. Then there’s Fox News.
They’re featuring a story on the former Canadian Prime Minister, who dared to publicly hope that Mar-A-Lago would be struck by the storm.
In their piece, they recognize that the vast majority of Americans have no idea who the ex-Prime Minister is. (This does not speak well of Americans, who should not be so insular as to have no idea who the leaders of their largest trade partners and their neighbors are. Ignorance is something the mendacious use to their advantage.) They do this by highlighting a tweet from the ignorant: “Who is Kim Campbell? She seems like an inhuman person. Hoping people die or get hurt is sick.”
They then retweet a Canadian media personality and occasional Fox News contributor, Ezra Levant: “Former PM Kim Campbell is a senior aide to Justin Trudeau, in charge of Supreme Court appointments. She’s gone full Westboro Baptist Church, cheering for the death of Americans — and @realDonaldTrump in particular. Trudeau knows, and he’s fine with it.”
Nowhere in her tweet did the ex-PM cheer for the death of Americans. As a news personality, Levant knows this. As a prominent U.S. news organization, the editors and producers at Fox know that Levant knows this. None of that knowledge prevents them from broadcasting a known falsehood and subsequently hyping it.
The real question is… why?
Campbell is a relatively major figure in Canadian politics, but her opinion about Mar-A-Lago suffering damage is a raindrop in the downpour of information available. Hong Kong is arresting key protest leaders. Brazil’s arrested some arsonists and is dealing with police kill squads in their streets. The UK is crashing toward Brexit. And one of the top stories on Fox is that Donny Deutsch is losing his show.
I have little doubt this story will cycle through the Fox headlines quickly; it’s just not very important. But it was featured at a time when none of those other stories – which are (save the Brazil kill squads, Fox doesn’t seem to want to discuss such things under a national leader friendly to Trump) were even on the front page of the site.
This is simply promoting division. Not content with the damage a real-life storm might bring, Fox is seeking to present as many excuses for strife as they can. They’re chasing the next storm, knowing it’s what they can convince their audience to watch.
It’s not inaccurate. It’s not “fake”. It’s just unnecessary. It’s focusing on a small event while ignoring or downplaying potentially momentous news. It’s exactly the same thing many Republicans accurately accused CNN and MSNBC of doing during much of Obama’s Presidency.
Hypocrisy doesn’t mean much anymore. It, like racism, has been tossed out as an accusation far too often – both accurately and not – and it’s lost its edge as a condemnation.
What should mean something is a basic dedication to informing and not propagandizing their viewership. That’s supposed to be the reason for a news organization in the first place.