Some Fox Thoughts

While I like Jay Rosen, a media critic who teaches at NYU, and as a confirmed drunk blogger, I should be endorsing his latest experiment of recording some thoughts while drinking a big glass of scotch. Here’s a taste:

On Fox, the news exists in order to generate controversy. Controversy exists in order to generate resentment. And the resentment is what generates ratings. […] Resentment of whom? A cultural elite that is corrupt and maneuvering and manipulating behind the scenes to exercise power. It’s resentment against this elite that provides the motion, the passion, the commitment, the fireworks at Fox.

Rosen goes on to point out that every story at Fox goes back to the way myths are generated: “many signifiers, one signified” or “many stories, one narrative that endures”.

Many provocations, one lesson: the liberals, the cultural elite, are at it again. This is the essence of myth. No matter what happens, the story stays the same. This is one reason why the whole notion of Fox as a news channel is a little dubious, because nothing ever changes in Fox land.

The reason I’m quoting rather than embedding the video is because his voice and manner channels a younger Wallace Shawn, which is tough to take. But if you want an insight into the power of Palin, and why she’s more of the Fox candidate than Huckabee, Romney or Pawlenty, his explanation is pretty powerful. She’s the purest embodiment of resentment towards the cultural elite on offer at Fox, even more than Rosen’s choice, Bill O’Reilly.

Update: Rosen has a sense of humor. I asked him via email if he didn’t think Palin was the better example. Here’s his response:

Palin is a more powerful example, yes. But O’Reilly was there first. And I think Fox is drafting off Palin as much as Palin is exploiting Fox.

O’Reilly: resentment news personified.

Palin: resentment politics embodied.






35 replies
  1. 1
    cmorenc says:

    @mistermix, quoting Jay Rosen:

    A cultural elite that is corrupt and maneuvering and manipulating behind the scenes to exercise power.

    What’s really galling and annoying is that this is EXACTLY what Fox itself is up to, fronting for Rupert Murdoch and the corporate business elite.

  2. 2
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    Resentment is right. The angry, white ‘give me back my country’ people need their resentments and anger fed and kept fresh daily. Faux lives to do just that. They are not a news organization but rather a propaganda machine. It exists to misinform, to distract, to keep resentment and anger alive and aflame.

    The sad thing is that they have more in common with the people who they resent and less in common with the ones they worship as pillars of what they are all about. Reality has nothing to do with it. They’ve been conditioned to hate something, to focus all their anger on it, to assign it the blame for all that ails them, real and imaginary. To their leaders they are little more than lab rats hitting the food button over and over again. Useful little rats doing what they’ve been trained and conditioned to do.

    If it pisses liberals off then it must be good. That’s all that matters to them because that is all their leaders have taught them.

  3. 3
    Svensker says:

    I’m just interested in your sentence structure. “While I like Jay Rosen” as the opener suggests that you are going to say something negative about Jay Rosen, but you don’t. So was there a back end to that sentence that got left out? Delaying getting in the shower and getting going on the day minds want to know.

  4. 4
    Mike Mundy says:

    Reminds me of Nixon.

  5. 5
    mistermix says:

    @Svensker: Yeah, bad construction on my part. I like Jay Rosen but he comes off as Wallace Shawn, Jr on YouTube.

  6. 6
    cathyx says:

    @Svensker: He sort of does. In the last paragraph, he says that he won’t post the video because his voice is hard to take. He just waited until the end to state it. While I like Jay Rosen, I’ll quote him rather than show his video.

  7. 7
    aimai says:

    I do like his definition of myth and the phrasing he uses to describe the driving forward of the narrative. On some other blog just yesterday there was a discussion of the enthymeme–oh, it was slactivist–

    You can’t see enthymemes, but they are there. Enthymemes are like an energy field created by all arguments. They surround them and penetrate them. They bind human discourse together. That’s right: enthymemes are the midichlorians of argument.__
    Aristotle says an enthymeme is like a logical syllogism that you take so much for granted that it forms the unspoken basis of your argument. In a fully worked-out logical syllogism, all the terms are explicitly expressed and few or no assumptions are left unspoken. But when you think a path of reasoning is so obviously true that no one could ever think otherwise, it becomes an long unspoken train of assumptions.__
    The whole argument can rest upon this basic unspoken syllogism which is so internalized that you don’t feel the need to articulate it — it’s common sense, the basic truth, the fundamental motivation for you to argue in the first place.__

    The enthymeme “liberalism is bad” or “democrats do these things to hurt you” is so basic to the argument that Fox news is always making that it forms both the suppressed/unstated major and minor premise as well as the mythic conclusion.

    aimai

  8. 8
    matoko_chan says:

    dur
    this is the samesame old war that has been going on since Kylon got the crotonian farmers to burn down Pythagoras temple and chop up the aukousmatikoi and mathematikoi with scythes.
    Palin is an elite….in looks. That is how she got to be govenor of Alaska.
    Survival of the Prettiest.
    Unfortunately, in a Jeffersonian meritocracy, looks are not enough.
    Look at this video tape.
    I was struck by how she expects Couric to be charmed by her, and how she gives a total pageantspeak answer. It always worked before.
    That is why i am positive Palin is running …..she is ressentiment made flesh.
    A pretty bot animated by the undying demon Kylon of Croton aka populism.
    The reason she has got this far, is that the TP/GOP soi-disant “intelligentsia” set out to maximize her use to the party, knowing exactly what she is. (especially Ross and Reihan- at TAS we teased Ross about pushing Palincrack and dipping into merchandise and waiting in vain for Palins Elle Woods moment.)
    But since she wont play Galatea to their Pygmalion, she is the nightmare blade that will turn in their hand.

  9. 9
    David says:

    Fox works like conspiracy theories work. There are signs everywhere once you start looking. Anything and everything can be a sign. Even events that contradict your theory are actually signs of a conspiracy.

    Look! Another black helicopter!

  10. 10
    Quiddity says:

    Those quotes of Rosen (above) are the best short summary of Fox I’ve read. Just last week, Stuart Varney was engaging in midwest-resentment of California (which was wrong on facts, to nobody’s surprise) that was a classic example of Fox’s style.

  11. 11
    matoko_chan says:

    @aimai: also eumemes.
    “respectful lies” that are propagated as truth but are actually harmful disinformation.
    For example the egalitarianism of heredity.
    Men are created equal….genes and memes are not.

  12. 12

    […] mistermix who eschewed posting the video because Rosen’s “voice and manner channels a younger […]

  13. 13
    aimai says:

    matoko_chan,
    Don’t be on my side. Your eugenics word salad makes me queasy.

    aimai

  14. 14
    uila says:

    Hmm, too bad Rosen isn’t channeling a younger Dick Shawn. I would subscribe to that in a heartbeat.

  15. 15

    @aimai: Eeeeeexactly! Loved that Slacktivist post too. This is what lies beneath many of the wingnut wailings that seem borderline incomprehensible to us. I wish I knew a good way of dealing with it.

  16. 16
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @aimai: It always leads to an uncomfortable moment when m_c agrees with one. My sympathies. On the other hand, stopped clock and all that.

  17. 17
    mistermix says:

    @uila: That would be performance art: “Media criticism in the style of it’s Mad Mad Mad Mad World, as channeled by the ghosts of Ethel Merman and Dick Shawn.”

  18. 18
    matoko_chan says:

    @aimai: tuff titty.
    We are all eugenicists, you know.
    Its how humans choose mates.
    We are entering the age of designer eugenics, like Jody Foster shopping her ideal spermdonor.
    My old friend Godless Capitalist once said noble sentiments like yours would only persist until the “soft latte soccer moms” realize they can have designer babies.
    its all over for the bioluddites.
    :)
    and im never on your side.
    im on my own side.
    we already had that discussion. im not interested in coddling people.

    The tendencies to deny all genetic inequality in mental ability are rooted in cloud cuckoo land, however laudable their political or moral motivation. –Sir Richard

  19. 19
    kuvasz says:

    The Tea Party movement is manned by the C- student who is enough of a sociopath to mimic the rhetoric of the smart kid but still is insuffiently talented to understand it. I get the impression that these folks learned history from reading Classic Comics and watching the Lone Ranger.

    In affect, these are people who resent being told by the world (not Liberals themselves) that they are middling average and in response think that they are themselves so superior that they can argue with known experts about subjects with which they have only a casual acquaintance.

  20. 20
    matoko_chan says:

    Ivy league coeds can sell eggs and pay for their college.
    capitalisma si!

  21. 21
    J says:

    @aimai: That is pretty damn good (and I say this as someone who has written about Aristotle on the enthymeme).

    I’m trying to think of a slogan to express the mood that Palin exploits so well, but not doing very well.

    Resenters of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but the imaginary chains imposed on you by a fictional cultural elite. Submit instead to the yoke imposed by the money elite, and be prepared–in a spirit of grateful & humble deference–to feel the burden grow ever heavier.

    Assistance welcome.

  22. 22
    DougJ says:

    I guess you’re not a fan of My Dinner With Andre.

    Don’t tell Roger Ebert.

  23. 23
    Scott_SGG says:

    Mistermix, I think saying he sounds like Wally Shawn is just a bit too far.

    Although, as a similar comparison, I wonder what political commentary would sound like with the voice of Pee Wee Herman.

  24. 24
    Dan says:

    There’s another element to the fox monster as well.
    They don’t just promote stories that fit their conspiracy theories,they ignore stories that don’t.

    If you relied on foxnews.com, you’d never have known about the success of GM’s IPO this week. The only mention I ever saw was a reader poll asking whether you’d want to buy GM stock, and the only coverage I saw on the network was the story that most fox news watchers didn’t trust the recovery.

    To be honest though, what bothers me most about the constant “liberal resentment” content is that fox has replaced investigative journalism with manufacturing stories. They don’t report the news they create it. They start each morning with a story saying “Here is the obama line, but some people are saying….” You can find some people to say anything so this in itself is content free. By the early afternoon it’s “many people are saying” because by now they’ve found a few idiot congressmen to say it too. And by the crazy evening shows (oreilly, hannitty, etc..) it’s now a full fledged controversy, created out of thin air.

  25. 25

    @matoko_chan: “Palin is an elite….in looks.”

    Less and less every day, and it’s just another facet of her narcissism and utter lack of self-reflection that she clearly does not realize that she has outgrown her Miss America mannerisms. As her youthful facade becomes harder and harder to maintain her self-presentation becomes more and more jarring. That wink that gave Rich Lowry starbursts just seemed to me grotesque.

  26. 26
    aimai says:

    @matoko_chan:

    I think I saw you posting under a different nym over at the Chronicle of Higher ed essay by “Dante” –does anyone else in the world obsesses about genetics, money, various chinese empires and also use the expression “dur”? If not, I’ve found your soul mate.

    aimai

  27. 27

    […] is exploiting the resentment that those outside the rope feel towards those within (Many thanks to Balloon Juice for the quotes). On Fox, the news exists in order to generate controversy. Controversy exists in […]

  28. 28
    xian says:

    @Joey Maloney: getting a strong vibe of “mirror, mirror” from that image…

  29. 29
    matoko_chan says:

    @Joey Maloney: that is why she absolutely has to run in 2012. in 2016 she will be postmenopausal. she already needs neck botox….do they do that?
    Plus her base (old white guys) will be smaller while her antibase (youth, minorities, teh college educated and wimmen) will be larger.

  30. 30
    matoko_chan says:

    @J: try…
    You libruul elites are not the boss of me.
    COD actually said that during her tragically doomed and abortive campaign.

  31. 31
    matoko_chan says:

    @aimai: not me. and ill do my own sperm donor shopping, tyvm.
    :)

  32. 32
    James E. Powell says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee:

    The sad thing is that they have more in common with the people who they resent and less in common with the ones they worship as pillars of what they are all about. Reality has nothing to do with it.

    The sad thing is that there is almost no one, outside of academia and lefty blogs, who says this with any regularity. And there is no one who I am aware of who explains this to the white working class.

    Instead, there is a cable network, multiple radio shows, and a political party that tell the white working class, every day, that their problems, the destruction of their hopes and dreams, are caused by people of color, immigrants, liberal elites, academia, the entertainment industry, and ‘enemies’ of various stripes and colors, usually associated with foreign countries.

    In this age of information overload, people cannot process and gain understanding of all that they need to know and ought to know to fully participate in self-government. They have adopted methods of dealing with the information overload that leave them even more vulnerable to propaganda. And propaganda works.

  33. 33
    Mark S. says:

    A cultural elite that is corrupt and maneuvering and manipulating behind the scenes to exercise power.

    Fox exists solely to make sure their viewers never replace “cultural” in the above sentence with “corporate.”

  34. 34

    and as a confirmed drunk blogger, I should be endorsing his latest experiment of recording some thoughts while drinking a big glass of scotch.

    that’s funny. i don’t remember writing this particular post…

  35. 35
    brantl says:

    He nails it in your update.

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