The Fox Effect

Someone crowdfunded a movie (trailer above) about how talk radio crawled inside her father’s brain like one of those hideous sandworms in “Wrath of Khan” and transformed her dad from a mild-mannered Kennedy Democrat into a crabby, resentful, sludge-spewing ditto-head. And then Fox News came along to reinforce his new asshole world view.

The aspiring filmmaker found that many others shared a similar experience. The film will link it back to the source, Roger Ailes, who plays Darth Vader to Rupert Murdoch’s Emperor Palpatine (mixing sci-fi metaphors, but you know what I mean). The film also asks if it’s possible to deprogram individuals who have been brainwashed by Fox.

Anyhoo, TPM has had several posts on the topic, as pointed out by valued commenter JPL. Have you seen the Fox Effect among your friends, relatives and acquaintances?

My dad is a born wingnut — the majority of Southern white males of his generation (born shortly after WW2) are. But Fox has definitely armed him with talking points and reinforced his biases. We get along fine since we have an agreement not to talk politics, but that wasn’t always the case.

Do you think the Fox Effect can be reversed? I have my doubts; I suspect talk radio and Fox just give voice and encouragement to latent assholery rather than creating it from scratch.

260 replies
  1. 1
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    I’m not sure it can be reversed, because so many have become true believers and evidence directly before their eyes fails to shatter their faith in this abject stupidity.

    However, one of my sysadmins used to joke that there is always the “four word solution” to such intransigent cretinism.

  2. 2
    eric says:

    I am not sure that we can account for all of the dependent variables. I think that there is a portion of the Fox pool that have taken the dive because of a black president and that might be modestly reversible. I think you can see the movement on gay marriage and medical mary jane, and while that is not the hard core wingnut, i think that gets to Betty’s point that her dad always was and so i suspect he aint taking back all the bad things he ever said about those issues.

    I think the answer is driven in large part by geography and by southern white resentment and that LONG predates Fox.

    Bigots learn bigotry from their folks and while Fox may arm the bigots with ingots of hate, they want to hate with every fiber of their being. Fox makes it okay to voice that hate.

  3. 3
    shortstop says:

    I think Fox and talk radio gave voice to latent abject fears of a changing world in which the people who used to control 100% of things now only control 95%. Result: assholery among the people who had everything and now, having lost small portions of it, truly believe they have nothing.

  4. 4
    Lee says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I agree. I think that generation is completely lost. My father-in-law is one. He rails against socialism all the while living only on SS & VA benefits. After I pointed out the hypocrisy of it, he no longer brings it up around me.

  5. 5
    mai naem mobile says:

    I know about Godwins law etc. but FOX has a real propaganda kind of set up which would rival Goebbels’ operation.They start early in the morning with their talking points in a friendly manner and raise it progressively till the nighttime when they have the big guns out. The opponents are always not the “norm” or wussy looking and acting. The same clips are repeated x times an hour. Pure poison and I have no idea what you do about it. Bill Clinton liberalizing the media ownership rules was one of the worst acts of his admin maybe next to the repeal of Glass Steagall

  6. 6
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    Suddenly I don’t feel so all alone. Rush Limbaugh convinced my mother that it was okay to shout at her family if we disagreed with her, hate blacks and other minorities and spew the most hateful things about anyone who dared question Rush or FOX news. Don’t get me started about the hate filled things she posts about Obama on Facebook no less.

    Before that she was the one who taught it was not ok to judge anyone by the color of their skin, she cared about the environment. I wish I knew where that person went. If someone else figures out a way to deprogram, call me. Please.

  7. 7
    The Dangerman says:

    Do you think the Fox Effect can be reversed?

    I doubt it. Lately, while watching FOX, I’ve noticed that it’s gotten even more strident in their bias; it’s viewers must be like junkies that need a stronger fix.

    ETA: They were seriously losing their shit last night about the plan to pardon some drug offenders. Soft on crime, etc; maybe it’s because an election is coming up.

  8. 8
    MattF says:

    People often do get crabby and reactionary as they get older. Not always, but it’s not just a myth either. Part of it is increasing isolation– the social interaction that reminds you of other people’s needs goes away. And the other part is just cussedness.

  9. 9
    Gravie says:

    My Dad changed from a country-club Republican voter (although he was registered as a Democrat his entire life) into a FOX news addict who wholeheartedly bought into the Bill O’Reilly/Sean Hannity line of disinformation. There wasn’t a mean bone in his body, so he didn’t get ugly about it — and my sisters, stepsisters and step mother are all liberals, so he didn’t bring up political topics often. When he did, we just told him we weren’t going to talk about it. I tried weaning him off the hardcore FOX and American Spectator stuff by giving him a subscription to The American Conservative but I don’t think he really took to it — not enough showbiz outrage.

  10. 10
    Trollhattan says:

    Nope, I don’t. My extensive time around the olds tells me they to a large extent ossify WRT taking on new concepts and beliefs. I think what’s occurring is they’re casting off bits of their personality and the strong and/or suppressed traits are coming through. They completely stop self-filtering and say whatever the hell is on their minds.

    There ARE exceptions, who comprise the old folks we actually enjoy being around and who challenge US to think and learn new things.

    Could shutting off Fox for good help? I think so, at least WRT daily interactions. They’ll stop thinking about whatever the hell Megyn Kelly just yapped (“aww, she’s purdy”) and refocus on remembering how to get the Buick into reverse.

  11. 11
    eric says:

    @The Dangerman: no. they are losing and so need to be convinced that there are larger forces amassed against them. But, not larger in terms of number (i.e., democracy) but larger in terms of influence because they bribe people and game the system to trample on the rights of the poor white man.

  12. 12
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    I watched the trailer this morning from JPL’s link. One thing that struck me as very significant — more so with talk radio than with Fox — is that listening is almost always a solitary experience. There’s nobody in the conversation except you and Rush. I hope the full documentary explores that phenomenon in more detail and that it’s not just a quick passing observation. It strikes me as being really significant to the whole emotional-psychological transformation that many of us have seen in friends and family members.

  13. 13
    MPAVictoria says:

    “Do you think the Fox Effect can be reversed?”

    Well some people do change their minds about politics but I think it is a process that happens gradually. So maybe over a long period of time your father may start to question some of his beliefs.
    /But then again, maybe not.

  14. 14
    EconWatcher says:

    When Fox News was first created, my dad immediately liked it, but he was initially “in on the joke.” He knew it was outrageously skewed, but he thought, “hey, this is fun; take that, you liberal losers.”

    But after a few years, he progressed to saying that Fox was no more skewed to the right than the other major networks were skewed to the left. And from there, after a few more years, we got to the point where he would not believe or accept any fact that was not reported to him by Fox or confirmed by Hannity or Rush.

    It simply became impossible to discuss anything remotely political with him. He’d get this knowing smirk and tune out anything that was not consistent with what his sources had told him. He had always been very conservative, but he did have an honest curiosity about facts before he contracted the Fox News fever.

    Now the same thing is happening with my younger brother.

    I do not think you could possibly overestimate the damage Fox News has done to this country. The mindset it creates is not just irritating. It can be menacing.

  15. 15
    rikyrah says:

    Funny how this shyt is only pliable to White folks.

    I don’t hear Black parents lament what Fox has done to their parents.

  16. 16
    peach flavored shampoo says:

    My dad sounds EXACTLY like Bettys. Same Southern region, same age, same racist BS. But my dad supplements his Fox with daily doses of Rush and Hannity as well. The result is a toxic cesspool of racist fuckdummery and gross misinformation on damn near everything. But teasing out the most influential source of such garbage among all the players in conservative media is like identifying the guy with the worst bout of cholera.

  17. 17
    eric says:

    another datapoint….diminishing civil liberties. what is now a wingnut talking point was a necessary tool in the fight against terrorism when employed by W. rage is the drug, not the issue.

    Tribalism and racism can trump logic every time.

  18. 18
    rikyrah says:

    sorry…Black children

  19. 19
    eric says:

    @rikyrah: the irony of course is that fox is directed to infect whites so that they will DO lamentable things to (poor) black children, like deny them the opportunity to escape poverty because that would be a slap in the face to every Fox white viewer (redundant).

  20. 20
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    I think talk radio let the genie out of the bottle. It was always there waiting to be harnessed, but talk radio loosened the cork enough to let it seep out. Fox came along and weaponized it. Now, I simply don’t think there’s a way to put it back in. It’s loose, and even when Fox dies, the spectre it’s unleashed will continue to flourish and grow, and we’re seeing the dividends on it face front right now in just how contrarian and hardened conservative positions are on everything. And the worst part is, as people have noticed and attested to, is how oddly seductive it all is to the point it wins converts left and right and never gives them back. Somehow, it so easily becomes the most credible fucking thing in the world while trying to use non-Fox facts and reason means you have to convince them in triplicate or otherwise you’re the stupidest most lying-est fucker in the world and fuck you, Jesus hates you too.

    It’s just…how the fuck do you fight it anymore? How the fuck do you fight it when all attempts to fight it just make it grow more powerful?

  21. 21
    shelly says:

    Betty, since you so often post about your chickens, your pups and various Floridian fauna,, I first thought this was about real foxes.

  22. 22
    Betty Cracker says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: That point struck me as well — the solitary angle. I don’t think my dad listens to wingnut radio, but when he watches Fox News, he watches it alone. My stepmom, if she’s in the room at all, is otherwise occupied. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her express a political opinion of any type, ever, and I’ve known her since I was 11-years-old.

  23. 23
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    Do you think the Fox Effect can be reversed?

    I think “natural wastage” is a better hope. Is wingnut media really bringing in many viewers that aren’t drawing Social Security and getting Medicare?

    Fox News is the American version of Radio Rwanda.

    As a point of contrast, my dad (in Foreign) is… well, a bit of a racist. But he doesn’t have the same drip-drip-drip reinforcement from quasi-news sources.

  24. 24
    Jeffro says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: That would make for a GREAT special effect/animation (seriously) – show some old guy driving along, turning on the radio, Rush comes on, and you’d see a ghostlike Rush right up next to the old guy’s ear, whispering his vile b.s.

    The closing line to viewers would be…?

  25. 25
    Gus says:

    My dad definitely had this syndrome, though I wouldn’t call him bitter or toxic, and he never expressed any racist opinions. He was more of a casual user than an addict. Still, I got a dose of the usual wingnut viewpoint (Katie Couric was asking Sarah Palin “gotcha” questions, for example). I started getting the usual wingnut chain emails from him, but after I disproved a few for him, he started sending them to me asking of they were true. I’m convinced, having sat in his house and watched a bit of Fox with him, that all the graphic effects and sounds have a hypnotic effect that increases the power of the message.

  26. 26
    catclub says:

    @Betty Cracker: ” the solitary angle.”

    In the Rwandan Genocide, radio was a huge vector of hate. I do not know if it was solitary there or not.

  27. 27
    cdmarine says:

    It got my mom. And, no, I don’t think it just enabled latent hate. My parents were hippies who raised me with strongly liberal values (explicitly stated as such, not just implicit in their daily lives): love, peace, compassion, community, equality (including, very specifically, racial equality). I was not even allowed to say the word “hate” as a child, because “we do not hate.” We were also a non-religious family.

    When my parents divorced, we were living in a small rural town with little opportunity for keeping oneself busy and distracted. My mom got lonely and turned to the most obvious place for community and friendship: religion. She started attending an evangelical Christian church, and eventually met and married a very conservative man. They began to keep Fox News on the TV as background, and as so many others in the community did the same, the tenor of political talk at their church grew paranoid, vituperative, and racist.

    This all culminated in a heartbreaking moment during the 2008 primaries where my mom casually said that she guessed everything would be OK as long as “that Barack Hussein Obama didn’t get in there.” I’m pretty sure she was actually trying to be kind in implying that she didn’t think the US would burn to the ground if a Democrat won… as long as it wasn’t Obama, but all I heard was “Holy fuck, my mom is gone. She’s gone!” I pressed her on it, and she’d bought into the secret-Muslim, Kenyan usurper, not-one-of-us crap all the way. I told her I didn’t care who she did or did not support, that he was not my candidate either, but that the reasons she was giving were NOT OK. We fought. There were tears. I told her I was not raised that way… that SHE did not raise me that way.

    I don’t know if she can come back or not. Sometimes I see glimmers. She still talks sometimes about how she always wanted to set up a clinic for poor people where they could get free health care (she’s a nurse). But then, she’ll post on Facebook about how great Glenn Beck is, and how persecuted Christians are in America.

    This series Josh has been running at TPM has been really validating and painful for me to read. I’ve been wanting to write in with my own story, but just thinking about it to write it down is almost too much to bear. It’s as if I’ve lost a family member to a cult.

  28. 28
    Lizzy L says:

    Can we — please — lose the phrase “the olds”? First of all, we’re all going there — only the good die young. Second, I’m old. I’m on Medicare and Social Security, and I’ve been a liberal all my life, and that isn’t going to change. If anything, I’m getting a bit more radical. (Class war — hell yeah! Let’s go.) I don’t like being lumped in with the Fox zombies. I’m sorry that your parents (and yours, and yours, and yours, and Betty’s) got eaten, but it’s not an inexorable process which will engulf anyone who turns 60.

    Asking you nicely.

  29. 29
    Citizen_X says:

    @rikyrah: Black Privilege!

  30. 30
    scav says:

    Whew to being a counter-example. My father went more vocally left as he aged and suddenly indulged in bumper-stickers. Mom just has explicitly found her bubble of sane and visits the rest of the world only when she feels she must (she’s managed a good sized bubble). We never were TV watchers though.

  31. 31
    eric says:

    @Gus: a final point….i think it is the assuredness with which the Foxites espouse the “facts” is the lure. Even if you are somewhat skeptical, many (most) people are not so cynical as to lie brazenly on “facts.” thus, the Fox viewer will treat the fact as true and when questioned, ju jitsu the bias point back around at you claiming your source is biased an untrustworthy. If is a confidence game and it is the confidence with which false facts are stated as true that makes the con work.

  32. 32
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:


    In other words, Dunning-Kruger distilled and weaponized.

  33. 33
    David in NY says:

    (only sort of OT) There may be a TPM effect too. Trying to erase certain parts of history. Here’s Josh Marshall’s account of the rise of the “netroots” (which he likens a bit to the Fox effect). Tell me now, somebody, what’s missing?

    Movements and political consciousness are inherently social. If you go back to the coalescence of the “netroots” movement within the Democratic party (not a good name for it) there’s something broadly similar afoot. You can trace this from the Democrats reaction to the impeachment crisis in ’98 and ’99, through the outrage at the contested 2000 election, nursed along by grassroots web-based communities, picked up by the Dean Movement and in some ways reaching fruition in the 2006 landslide election and the 2008 Obama campaign (though the Obama world was always very arms length from many elements of this community). There were a lot of different strains in what I’m drawing together here. A number of people who didn’t want much to do with each other. But here too we have relatively isolated people finding communities and media sources that in essence tell them, “No, you’re not the only who feels this way. A lot of other people do to. And you can connect up with them. And then you can do things together.”

    I started reading blogs at a moment that’s, well, slighted here. Wonder why?

  34. 34
    Jim C. says:

    Infrequent commenter but someone who has been following the TPM updates and has a similar experience.

    I think it depends on the degree of the programming and the individual involved.

    Leading up to the Iraq War, I was fortunate enough to have a pair of college friends who I respected and liked a lot to give me a viewpoint that was outside of my born in Utah and raised my entire life in Idaho norm. They were definitely on the left side of the political spectrum and I started researching their points by reading online news sources regularly for the first time, including international ones like the BBC and the Guardian. Even the Washington Post at the time carried some fairly considerable debunking of things like the Niger BS and the aluminum tubes questions.

    Basically, guys like Hans Blix and Mohammed El Barradei (not going to bother googling the right spelling) completely unpacked all the available arguments that the Bush Administration was making at the time they were making them. All the evidence was right there in plain sight if anyone wanted to consider it, which is why I scratch my head at latter day conversions of folks like Andrew Sullivan even if I accept them.

    But where I’m leading with this is that it often takes just one person to get exposed to things outside of the bubble for things to snowball. Based on what I was seeing, I started sending articles showing the faulty premises and the poor justifications out to my parents and little sister. It was not, to put it mildly, initially well received.

    “Where is your patriotism?” is a direct quote.

    But, to my parents’ credit, they both loved their little black sheep of a son enough to listen and actually read what I was sending them. Gradually, their point of view changed. They were mildly against the Iraq War by the time it actually launched and as the facts on the ground showed how wrong it was, it crystalized for them what I’d been saying. They themselves started looking around for other sources of information, questioning what they’d already heard, and adjusting their pre-set beliefs.

    BJ’s own John Cole has commented before that nobody ever argues as strongly as a former disbeliever, and that’s definitely been true of my family. With the spark lit, they’ve taken the proverbial football and ran with it. They’ve actively protested the Idaho legislature’s stonewalling of the “Add the Words” bill on gay rights. They’ve actively volunteered and participated on Democratic campaigns doing everything from being ordinary phonebanking to my mother being a far more significant part of a couple of (sadly unsuccessful) Idaho campaigns.

    Basically they’re more hardcore liberals than I am at this point, and all of this started because I had a pair of college internet (yes, Internet) friends who I respected and admired. Snowball rolling down the hill stuff.

    All feel good story stuff so far, but it doesn’t really end there. My parents were never really “Fox News” type Republicans, totally programmed. Neither was I for that matter.

    My dad’s younger brother on the other hand?

    Classically fits the mold. Lower middle class older white guy. A standing, unspoken rule exists that politics are not spoken with him. And we all go along with that because it’s kind of widely accepted that he’s not changing his views.

    I wonder if that is the right approach. Maybe he’s like my parents that, if the right person forced the issue, he’d look at the information.

    But those are really hard conversations and who really wants to bring that up on the infrequent times the family is together?

  35. 35
    kindness says:

    So drinking with your Dad is out of the question, eh Betty? Holidays gotta suck then.

  36. 36
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @rikyrah: Yeah, it would be surprising if black parents responded to political messaging with that kind of subtext – or hell, text.

    There’s no control group of old white folks who don’t watch Fox. Also, too, correlation does not necessarily imply causation, so we don’t know if there really is an equation, or if there is, which side of it Fox is on. Do conservative media change individuals’ attitudes, or do those with changing attitudes seek out media that confirm their new biases?

    ETA: spoiler alert – like many political variables, it’s on both sides of the equation.

  37. 37
    Ejoiner says:

    On a sorta related note – I looked up the 5/16 thing that keeps getting posted by wingnuts on a lot of the message boards I’ve visited in the last few days. Any takers on estimating how many of the 10 million actually show up in Washington (to remove Obama’s government according to the rules of the Constitution, no less!)?

  38. 38

    I don’t think it is necessarily latent hate that Fox is capitalizing on, it is fear. Fox News tells their viewers to be afraid, to be very afraid.

  39. 39
    Bud says:

    My sister became a Foxbot, and I do think there is opportunity to reverse most of the damage because of the massive overreach of the movement.

    It is easy to ridicule and mock the GOP cultists who think that every Republican is a peerless example of honor and integrity (words they use without any seeming understanding of their meaning) while every Democrat is vile and evil.

    This world view might have been a success for Fox and the pundits who have made millions off of it, but the simple fact is that nobody likes to feel like a dupe who uses identity in this way – nobody. Mock them for thinking that way and watch what happens – backpeddling in the most furious manner.

    I once watched my brother’s lifetime of homophobia melt away inside of 20 minutes. The damage from Fox can be undone.

  40. 40
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    I know several folks who have suffered through the Fox Effect in their families. (Side note: It’s almost always the dads who fall victim to it. The moms are much more variable, but even when they move right, they almost never turn into full-on wingnuts.) Thankfully, it hasn’t really happened in my family, but my dad is trending ever so slightly in that direction. He’s always been somewhat center right, but in the Rockefeller Republican mold. Didn’t give a shit about social issues at all, and barely ever talked about politics in the first place. But every so often now, he’ll slip in some comment about “Isn’t it crazy that gays can get married now?” or “damn unions” or what have you. I just ignore them and hope they aren’t a harbinger of the Fox Effect.

  41. 41
    dexwood says:

    My asshole Tea party brother-in-law, age 63, a year older than I am, once told me he doesn’t know what he’d do without Fox news. I replied he’d be better informed. He only allows his granddaughters, 5 and 7, to watch Fox news when they visit. Sometimes movies he selects. They are not allowed to watch Sesame St, or anything similar, i.e., liberal, in his house. He loves Hannity, Beck, and Limbaugh. At Christmas dinner last year he wanted to read aloud from Limbaugh’s latest book but was over ruled by me, my wife, my son, and daughter-in-law. There is no hope for him short of a lobotomy.

  42. 42
    raven says:

    I’ve written about my Du Page County Republican old man here plenty of times. The right-wing shit I got (in the sense that it was always there) but the racial crap was lees understandable. He was a high school coach an one of my earliest memories are of him coaching black and white kids in the Chicago burbs in the late 50’s. We had the teams in the house on Sunday’s and I still remember how he loved them all. We moved to LA and then back to Chicago after the family breakup and I left for the Army and beyond in the 60’s. In the Army I was smacked in the face by the racism of both the war and within the Army itself. He had raised me to see people as equals and that helped my analysis of the situation overseas and at home. He always seemed pretty balanced. He wasn’t happy I was in the anti-war vets movement but he felt that I had earned the right to protest (of course we all have that right but I didn’t quibble). He moved to Arizona in the late 70’s but the real change I saw was when Arizona decided not to honor the King Holiday and the NFL threatened to move the Superbowl. He saw this as a major injustice and it sent him around the bend. The second thing that did him in was the rise of Tiger Woods. It was so bad that my sibs and I simply avoided the topic as much as possible. I have no way of knowing if talk radio had any impact but I somehow doubt it. He listened to the radio but almost always either Arizona Wildcats or sport talk. It was one of the saddest things in my life to see him go that way.

  43. 43
    Hawes says:

    My dad was a Democratic state legislator in Georgia during the Carter governorship. He was fairly orthodox as a – as you put it – Kennedy Democrat.

    He voted for Clinton in ’96, but that was the last time he voted Democratic. He went to school with John McCain and started getting all the astroturf emails after 2000, plus he hated Al Gore because of a feud that went back to Gore, Sr, and my grandfather. After that, he developed an inflexibility in his thinking. I can remember selling him on single-payer health care in the ’90s, but today he’s imbibed every Fox News/Wall Street Journal meme on ACA. In fact, I wouldn’t overlook the radicalization of the WSJ as a contributing factor.

    The good news is that my mom has forbidden him from arguing politics with me, because she doesn’t want him to die in the middle of it with harsh words hanging in the air.

  44. 44
    JPL says:

    In 1987 the FCC rid our nation of that nasty fairness doctrine, and opened the airwaves to grifters. (it’s all about the money) Over a decade ago their viewers were told, that political correctness was rampant and destroying our family. A society can’t exist without common decency, and that’s what talk radio and Fox destroyed. It had nothing to do with political correctness.

  45. 45

    @Jim C.: I agree with not engaging is not an answer. When people spout BS they need to be called on it. Even if it does not change them, it may change the opinions of the bystanders.

  46. 46
    EconWatcher says:

    We have evolved as social creatures, and I think there is something hardwired into us to both yearn for community and resent perceived shirkers, freeloaders, and spongers. Survival probably favored those who could both cooperate and avoid sharing with non-contributors. We may also be hardwired to place more trust in perceived members of our own tribe.

    Fox, Hannity, and Rush dig deep into those primeval feelings and use them. They’ve monetized those feelings.

    The interesting question may not be, why do some people respond to that? The more interesting question may be, why are others immune to it?

    It’s not a question of intellingence. I’ve known many very intelligent wingnuts. I do think they have some kind of deficit in emotional maturity. That seems to be the common denominator.

  47. 47
    GregB says:

    This post is full of secular humanist lies from the pit hell.

    It’s also a distraction from Benghazi.

  48. 48
    Nellie in NZ says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: You are on to something there. I call talk radio Hutu radio for the insidious way that the voice insinuates itself in the brain, without the balance of another sensory system like vision. I used it to good advantage with reading aloud to my kids, reading at a vocabulary level just slightly above their reading vocab. It also insinuates a variety of good sentence structures from inside out – both kids are great writers. But the sinister side was shown in Rwanda with Hutu radio, inciting people to kill the Tutsis, though listening to the radio there was not solitary. But even back in the 90’s, I began calling what was happening in the US as Hutu radio.

    I don’t live in the US now; I get intelligent and thoughtful radio on National Radio, a New Zealand station. I recommend you go listen to some of Kim Hill’s interviews. As one American politician said, “Wow, you ask tough questions” as if he’d never been interviewed that way before.

    On edit: read further and see others got there before I got up this morning! I’m interested to see how many others made the connection.

  49. 49
    Jewish Steel says:

    Rush got his teeth into my Rockefeller Republican grandfather back in the 90s. He departed this earth before he could go full metal, which is a mercy I guess.

  50. 50
    Citizen_X says:

    Here’s a related phenomenon: I think our economy has a problem in that American businessmen–the owners and managers–is getting actively stupider due to brainwashing by Fox and the rest of the rightwing media. Sure, they were always conservative, but at least they could be pragmatic and respond to empirical reality. Now, they don’t acknowledge any information that doesn’t come from Fox. How can they possibly respond to the rest of the world in a timely way?

  51. 51
    Fuzzy says:

    The thing that amazes me is that most of those who believe Rush,Sean, Bill et al are collecting Social Security and on medicare but want to do away with big government. When one of us points this out and let’s them know that the GOP wants to reduce this they all scoff and say that is librul media talking.
    Tell every Fox fanatic that if they vote GOP their benefits will go down, all day every day, see what that can do.

  52. 52
    SatanicPanic says:

    Slightly OT, but I was at the bookstore the other day and saw “The Conservative’s Handbook, how to argue from A-Z” in the bargain bin (duh, where it belongs). And I thought- why would you buy this? If you can’t support your beliefs… maybe you shouldn’t believe them? Or if you feel like someone is just BSing you with their arguments so they can “win”… ignore them. I don’t get the need for this kind of book, but it seems like an regular cottage industry on the right.

  53. 53
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Lizzy L: My mom, who died two months ago at age 67, was a lifelong hippie who voted for Obama twice. My in-laws are Northern, union background city folk in their 70s who also voted for Obama. So you’re right — it’s not inevitable, not at all.

  54. 54
    PaulW says:

    the only way the Fox Effect can be deprogrammed is if the infected have a severe immediate shock to their individual minds: for example, something happening to them personally that clearly came about because of something a far right wingnut did, not something that could ever be blamed on Clinton or Obama.

    Problem is, that happens on a person-by-person basis, far too slow to affect the millions infected by the Not-News virus.

    Either that or make it so unprofitable for the hatemongers to sell their wares that the marketplace of ideas gets cleaned out of their rage-inducing noise.

  55. 55
    beltane says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: The fear message is exactly what they are selling. It is very clear even in the graphics and set designs used. The world is a scary place full of scary people who want to take your stuff and turn your lives upside down, but look…a pretty blonde lady in a short skirt, she must be one of the good people.

  56. 56
    MPAVictoria says:

    Lizzy L.
    Important not too forget this. When I was going through my deceased Grandfather’s records I found tax recipient for recent donations to Canada’s Left wing party (the NDP). It made me proud of him all over again.

  57. 57
    JPL says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: That’s how I feel. I do take it a step further though, by suggesting that a problem with healthcare might be the cost of emtala, and the deregulation of the insurance companies both under Reagan. Someone mentioned the Ryan budget and I mentioned that health care costs rose at a higher rate than inflation. I might be able to afford the extra ten grand for medicare in fifteen years, so it didn’t really effect me. haha.. (the extra ten grand would hurt me btw)

  58. 58
    Ash Can says:

    @rikyrah: Thanks for bringing up that point. I’d be willing to bet that there aren’t too many grown Hispanic kids bemoaning the brainwashing of their parents (or siblings or other relatives) either. It’s a white cultural phenomenon, by design.


    It’s as if I’ve lost a family member to a cult.

    This seems to hit the nail squarely on the head. I’m lucky enough not to have lost any friends or family members to this cult, but that’s definitely what it is — a hermetically-sealed community of thought in which prejudices are never questioned, always enforced, and nurtured until they’re inflated out of all proportion to reality.

  59. 59

    @beltane: I have seen this movie in a different theater; the Hindu right in India using Muslims to stoke fear.

  60. 60
    GregB says:


    The radio announcers would actually send genocidaires to certain addresses and admonish them to “do their work”.

    Really monstrous shit and frankly that fuckface Sean Hannity is going to end up with dead people literally if he keeps on fanning the flames with these militia idiots.

  61. 61
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    Have you seen the Fox Effect among your friends, relatives and acquaintances?

    Yes. My husband’s parents surprised he crap out of both of us when they became “God Bless, America” Bush supporters, but we blamed it on their freaking out over 9/11 and the fact that they live in a conservative, small minded area of the country (Gettysburg, PA). When the shit finally started hitting the fan in Bushes second term, after Katrina and the truth became known about the bullshit WMD’s and the way he was lying to Congress and allowing Cheney to run amok, we were sure they’d pull their support, but they kept saying “I support MY President” and other such clap trap.

    The Fox Effect got worse and worse until finally, they went full swill-swallowing, Hannity-quoting angry white-male during the 2008 election. It really was like watching some weird form of dementia take over their brains. They went from being very decent, tolerant, pro-gay, pro-abortion (she had one, for Christ’s sakes) liberal Lutheran Republicans to declaring Obama a “Mooslim” and cheering for Sarah “you know, she could have aborted that baby but she didnt’!!” Palin. During their annual visit here in late September 2008, they drove us nuts with the constant political talk. Glenn Beck was on my TV every time one of us stepped out of it for five minutes. Even though both my husband and I made a daily pinky swear to not talk politics and to hold our tongue, I failed. During a rant about Obama being the secret “Moooslim” son of Jeramiah Wright or some such crap, I lost it on my father-in-law and outright, telling him he was uninformed, uneducated and had quite frankly, was acting like a racist which I had never before that day considered him to be. He didn’t speak to me the rest of the four days he was here, and we didn’t’ invite them back again for four years.

    By that time, they’d learned their lesson. I guess they decided they wanted to see their grand-kids more than they wanted to regurgitate Fox talking points.

    Seeing as our kids share most of our political and social points of view, were shocked that on one hand Grandma and Grandpa were incredibly proud and applauded them, while at the same time not realizing they were a living testament to the opposite of what Fox says is good.

    So we hate Fox, talk radio and all things Right Media. They really did put quite a space between us and two people we love and appreciate for being wonderful parents. And I have little hope, due to their advanced age and to the homogenous “World of Right” in which they travel, that they will ever be cured of this disorder.

  62. 62
    beltane says:

    @Fuzzy: It doesn’t matter. Fox viewers have been programmed to think that if their benefits are cut it is because “those people” are taking all the money. If David Koch personally held a Foxbot up at gunpoint, they’d swear it was a black man that did it.

  63. 63
    dollared says:

    @Betty Cracker: I grew up in progressive Wisconsin, except, well, my hometown gave the world Joe McCarthy, and the well known daughter of Joe’s campaign manager, Greta Van Susteren. The 27% is tightly embedded still in my town, and it’s more like 50%.

    Fox does an amazing job of validating their prejudices and empowering them to hate without reservation. They have no shame in their prejudice or hatred because a national news channel tells them it’s OK, no, it’s necessary, to save our Nation Which Was Founded On Judeo-Christian Principles.

    I know that there are John Cole-like converts out there, but I’ve never seen a conversion in Northeastern Wisconsin. Sadly, the filter only seems porous as the bodies move to the right.

  64. 64
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Not engaging is not an answer but at the same time, it feels like engaging has as high a chance of totally backfiring as it does even helping moderately, where trying to engage just results in not only people hardening their beliefs but observers and other readers going around the bend and going against you as well for being the ‘irrational’ one or the ‘stupid’ one, to where THEY end up unreachable too.

    It’s just…I dunno how to get past that part, where it feels like even trying hurts your cause even more and causes people to just hate you all that much more for even trying.


    That’s pretty much been my experience too. RL, online, etc., it feels like I can count the number of right-to-left converts on maybe both hands, while the left-to-right converts feel fucking astronomical.

  65. 65
    Peej says:

    My mother was an unrepentant liberal till the day she died. She never watched Fox News…and was totally bewildered after the 2008 election when people were complaining about something or other that they thought Obama had done. Her words “Why are they complaining? He hasn’t done anything.”

  66. 66
    Porco Rosso says:

    The human brain is awesome at pattern recognition — if it gets appropriate feedback. Supply bad feedback (a Fox specialty) and you really f that up.

  67. 67
    Librarian says:

    My folks were of an older generation than Betty’s. They were born right after WW1, lived through the depression and the war, and were Roosevelt Democrats. My dad never fell for the Fox bullshit, thank goodness, and stayed a liberal all his life. I think living through the depression had a lot to do with it.

  68. 68

    Fox News may be the worst but the so called MSM should not be left off the hook either. Bush and company were able to sell a war on completely false pretenses because of them.

  69. 69
    raven says:

    @Betty Cracker: I’m 64. I’m more conservative than I was when I was 22 but, goddamn! Of course I see things through the lens of the 60’s and Vietnam and I look carefully at the wingnut pictures and footage on the news. There are a lot of Nam vets who hated what the “movement” was and did and they will never forget that they feel they got fucked by the left. It’s funny because so many of my buddies are right wingers and we joke around and call each other names but we are still friends. It’s not that way with “others”.

  70. 70
    PaulW says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    I don’t think it is necessarily latent hate that Fox is capitalizing on, it is fear. Fox News tells their viewers to be afraid, to be very afraid.

    That’s exactly it. It’s easy to exploit, to sell the fear without openly expressing the hate (racism) that follows with it. That’s why you’ll get the FoxBots and DittoHeads claiming to themselves they’re not racists all the while pushing racially-tinged fear-mongering talking points (anchor babies! welfare queens! lazy inner-city kids! Trayvon Martin was a wannabe drug-maker!) because they’ve convinced themselves they’re not being hateful about it.

  71. 71
    Penus says:

    @scav: My father has been the same way, and it’s heartening. He was my hero growing up and he continues to be. I’m going back home next week to see him receive an award from Planned Parenthood for his decades of volunteer work, and I’ve never been more proud to be his son.

  72. 72
    Citizen_X says:


    Sean Hannity is going to end up with dead people literally if he keeps on fanning the flames with these militia idiots.

    Hey, gotta break a few eggs, etc etc. Getting Dr. Tiller assassinated didn’t slow down Bill O’Reilly any, did it?

  73. 73
    kindness says:

    The noise machine on the right requires a certain amount of fear and anger to begin with. The way it works is to whip up that fear and anger into rage. Because once we have reached the stage of rage, reason is no longer present in the picture. Reason would cause folk to question stuff. Eliminating reason and instead nurturing resentment and rage is the best way to create useful footsoldiers (puppets really) for the cause.

    Aisles, Murdoch et al have poisoned a whole population and they won’t stop. They want the civil war that will come.

  74. 74
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    That’s the thing, it’s not really a different beast. It’s essentially the same thing, just the MSM following Fox’s lead rather than being the leader of the pack itself. It all loops back to the same source because the MSM got so shit scared of Fox they felt like they had to BE them to avoid being beaten by them.

  75. 75
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Ash Can: I have a Latino uncle who is a teabagger. It’s rare, but it happens. He’s mostly quiet about it though, while my white teabagger uncle is not. (they’re from different sides of my family- in both cases they’re in the minority politically).

  76. 76
    JPL says:

    How many times did Fox promote the memo that forty-seven percent didn’t pay taxes? How many times did Fox mention that Romney only paid fourteen percent in federal taxes on over two hundred million?

  77. 77
    David in NY says:

    @Betty Cracker: Sorry to hear about your mom, but glad she kept her sanity. She was just my, and my wife’s age. We’re puzzled to hear about so many people’s older relatives drifting off into right-wing la-la land, since our contemporaries (here in Brooklyn of course) are still pretty much the hippies they were in 1967.

    But I just realized that some of this is not so new. Two of my uncles, one of them a real socialist in the 30’s, became very conservative in the 60’s-70’s. Too complicated to figure out here, but Paul Harvey and weird right wing pamphlets were out there even then. Not sure what did it to them and not to my folks. Might have been race — one lived a long time in Mississippi, one in a neighborhood in their little city in Michigan that was becoming black — but I never heard them say anything about that and my Grandma (their mothers) was as non-racist as she could be, and explicitly taught me (age 5) not to be one. Hard to know how this works.

    @Librarian: “lived through the depression” Yes! Maybe, anyway, but didn’t save my uncles (who weren’t horrible, but no longer New Dealers like Mom and Grandma).

  78. 78
    Mike G says:


    I think Fox and talk radio gave voice to latent abject fears of a changing world in which the people who used to control 100% of things now only control 95%.

    Or people who are subconsciously waking up to the fact that just because they share some tribal marker with the people running things (gender, race, religion, region, etc.), that doesn’t mean they aren’t getting screwed like the rest of the 99%. But they’re so conditioned by authoritarian fear not to get angry at the powerful (“communist”, “class warfare”), while Fox stokes them to direct their anger at powerless ‘others’ — immigrants, minorities, the poor, “libruls”.

  79. 79

    Fear mongering works very well in times of economic insecurity, that too is a factor.

  80. 80
    Hungry Joe says:

    Reverse the Fox Effect? Well, part of the difficulty can be explained by this old saw: You can’t reason someone out of something they didn’t reason themselves into. so I don’t know how you’d go about it — saturation bombing, i.e., dare them to listen to nothing but Maddow, Amy Goodman, et al, for one week? It’s unlikely they’d go for it.

    Age probably has something to do with it, but my father, who began as a mildly pro-business FDR Democrat, spent his whole life moving gradually left and ended up pretty much a socialist. My mom will be 92 in a couple of weeks and complains about there being so few fellow Dems in her retirement home.

  81. 81

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik: I think the ghost of 9/11 also helped sell the Iraq War. So many people I considered sane swallowed the Bush lies hook line and sinker.

  82. 82
    Steve in the ATL says:

    On a related matter, what do you do with relatives who are Paultards? My sister has been obsessed with FEMA camps for several years now. She is an avid Alex Jones listener. Do I have to disclose this on medical forms that ask about a family history of mental illness?

  83. 83
    Punchy says:

    They are not allowed to watch Sesame St, or anything similar, i.e., liberal, in his house

    Whoa…..say what? Sesame St. is liberal? Teaching ABCs from a guy in a trash can and learning to say “thank you” and “please” from a giant canary is now trashed as “liberal”?

    There’s no way this isn’t the beginning of the decline of the US. If this mindset is what the GOP represents, we’re soooooo hosed.

  84. 84
    nancydarling says:

    My parents, God rest their souls. were born in 1898 and 1907. The little OK town where my Dad grew up was a sundown town even though black people almost never passed through. My Mother grew up in East Texas where she worked her uncle’s cotton fields with a black share-cropper couple named Tinny and Jim. I never heard a racist comment or epithet from either one of my parents—no homophobia either. I think what made them different was they got out of those insular small towns. My Dad went to work for an oil company in the thirties.

    We moved all my life (and all of theirs until retirement in Albuquerque in the sixties) like gypsies. My mother counted all the towns she had lived in and it ran close to 60 if you counted the years with a CCC bridge gang.

    Daddy loved his job and Mom was grateful for the regular paycheck. They looked at their life as an adventure, even if it meant they spent most of their life as outsiders—“the other”.

    I think what saved them from the attitudes that befell their siblings was that “outsider” experience and their wider view of the world—everywhere from Mississippi to Montana. I remember my Mom being shocked in Stamps, AR that the local mortician maintained two funeral homes—one for blacks and one for everyone else. I also remember much grumbling from both her and Daddy when we lived in Mississippi and Arkansas that “These people are still fighting the Civil War.”

    There was no right wing talk radio or Fox News, but I would stake my life that they would have been immune to it.

    They were also Christian in a very real and meaningful sense of the word. They took very seriously Christ’s admonition to care for the least of us, our brothers.

    They also prized education and all four of their kids are college graduates. My Dad was an avid reader of newspapers until the day he died. He would be horrified at what has become of the news business.

    I am so sorry for all of you who have parents who don’t have such a lovely world view like my Mom and Dad had.

  85. 85
    Rob in CT says:

    Fox played on my father’s pre-existing Toryism (loves Thatcher, liked Reagan, etc) and turned it up to 11. Before Fox, it was Limbaugh on the radio, though Dad will now claim he didn’t listen to Rush much (he did too – I can remember his show being on the radio every day when I got home from high school). Dad already believed/wants to believe that foolish liberals and terrible leftists are going to waste his money. That’s a given. The rest of it – the political religiousity in particular – wasn’t really his thing, and still isn’t. As much as I’d like to blame Fox, the audience is there. They lap it up because they want to.

  86. 86
    Lee says:

    What I think will be interesting is in 15-20 years will Fox News have replenished the die off of this generation or will it die off with them.

  87. 87
    Keith G says:

    First off: A post-Easter lunch – lamb nachos accented with fresh jalapenos and fresh cilantro….god that was good.

    @mai naem mobile:

    Bill Clinton liberalizing the media ownership rules was one of the worst acts of his admin maybe next to the repeal of Glass Steagall

    The damage done by centrist Democrats failing to understand the moral implications of how they wrapped their lips around corporate c_ck has done as much damage as done by the plots of Roger Ailes.

    Part of FOX’s success has been that they were operating in a near vacuum. A top-down messaging strategy opposed by little in the way of an equally fiercely aggressive and organized push back. Part of the blame lies with the Democratic brain trust who seemed to view FOX as a transient and farcical player.

    Keith Olbermann was one person who understood the need for direct and energetic confrontation with the lies told by FOX. He was not wrong in this by any measure, but he was not the best person to carry this forward.

    I do not view FOX as the outlier in the history of this type of human behavior. They are closer to the norm. It was only for a brief time known as post-war America that developed the media behaviors that we Liberals yearn for. We cannot sit back and wait for the old ways to return if, by definition, the old ways are not the normal ways.

    If we want the FOX Effect to diminish, we need to fight it tooth and nail – we need to go to war (metaphorically). Snark, insults and caustic wit will be insufficient – as will the assertion of a self-satisfied superior intellect.

    The left will have to demand more of its leaders and of themselves if FOX is to wither away before it’s natural expiration date.

  88. 88
    mai naem mobile says:

    @Gus: yes,I think the music and graphics have some kind of hypnotic/neurological effect. FOX is louder than other news stations. The graphics have multiple layers which make it more of a hypnotic effect. And the music/graphics have this Entertainment Tonight kind of style – btw,thats also the kind of style you see when a corporation is selling you on itself. CNN tries to pull off the same thing.MSNBC tries it with The Cycle but neither has that FOX magic.

  89. 89
    JPL says:

    Fox viewers tend to be older, and some will benefit from closing the donut hole in prescription drug. It needs to pointed out that the repubs, want to take away this benefit.

  90. 90
    danimal says:

    I think the Fox Effect can be reversed. I believe that the right wing wurlitzer is a confidence game that does provide cover for pre-existing racial attitudes and prejudices. But this has been amplified during the Obama presidency to a ridiculous level. Most Fox viewers don’t want to be viewed as raging racists, and once Obama is out of office they will dial back the racism (though perhaps replacing racism with misogyny if Hillary is elected). They have lost their bowel control, but most will regain some control once a different Democratic leader appears. IOW, bet on reduce racism and increased misogyny.

    Anyway, the underpinnings of Fox’s success are eroding as the society changes (and doesn’t fall apart). Already, the big money is looking at the Tea Party as a Frankenstein’s monster that will need to be killed. If the Chamber of Commerce can’t reshape immigration policy because of conservative hysterics, the funding for hysterics will start to dry up.

    At some point, the disconnect between the Fox fantasy and the real world will come crashing down. I don’t think it will come by having families discuss the issue one by one and concluding that liberals are ok after all. It’s much more likely to be a cataclysmic event that destroys the wurlitzer in a dramatic fashion. A Goldwater-level loss in 2016 may do it; a violent insurrection from militia types, assassination attempts–something that unmistakingly tars conservative propaganda will collapse the wurlitzer pyramid.

    Most of the Fox Effect people are looking for social support; once the plug is pulled from the tv, they’ll mitigate their behavior and/or change their minds. I just hope they don’t damage the country too much in the interim.

  91. 91
    eric says:

    another datapoint….you know who does not exist for Fox and its viewers…Timothy McVeigh. (and his ilk)

    white and angry is a protected class.

  92. 92
    Bill Arnold says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    Fox News is the American version of Radio Rwanda.

    I’ve very recently taken to opening a Fox New conversation with one or more of the following:
    – Russian state-controlled propaganda stations have been getting pretty detached from the truth lately. … Kind of like Fox News except that the ruling party controls them in Russia and in the US, Fox News is controlled by the opposition party.
    – Have you ever watched the advertisements on Fox News carefully? The advertisers think you are a certain sort of person. Are you?

    Can’t say it works, yet.

  93. 93
    dexwood says:

    My sister-in-law, wife of the aforementioned BiL who is white, is a Native American, a Pueblo Indian like my wife, and she is full tilt teabagger crazy. I forgot about the Teabagger anti-tax protest on the 15th and drove past it. They were both there waving signs and shouting. She looked like a raisin in the rice bowl.

  94. 94
    Nellie in NZ says:

    I’m in my 60’s. I’m blessed to live among active people here in NZ. The leaders of my walking group just turned 80 and we go out into the woods (or bush, as it is called here) every Monday and walk, sometimes up to 18 km, with a vigorous stride. There are about 35 people in the group and I’m one of the youngest.

    But when illness and disability strike, as it likely will for all of us, it can be bewildering to lose the faculties that we’ve relied on all our lives. My father was always a very strong man, a carpenter who relied on physical strength, and I remember the bewilderment in his voice, when he said, “I’ve lost my strength” as he was dying. It was as if he’d lost a steady and faithful companion.

    That vulnerability is what is being played upon. They are told that they are victims and to be afraid, rather than to get out and do something that strengthens them.

    My mother had to be in a nursing home at the end of her life and one time, there was an emergency on another wing and no staff on her wing when I came in to visit. I found the whole wing alarmed and agitated. People who weren’t demented were crying out for help, one room to the next. There was a disaster movie on in the form of a newscast and they missed that it was a movie. They thought they had been abandoned by the staff in a oncoming disaster. I went and turned off the tvs. We all have to be vigilant about what we feed into our brains.

  95. 95
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Bobby Thomson: No one among parents and their siblings and spouses watches Fox. The only ones in that group who are not liberal are a pair who are apolitical. Not exactly a control group, but anecdata nonetheless.

  96. 96
    Betty Cracker says:

    @raven: I think Vietnam is what made my mom turn hippie because her teenage brother was drafted and came home a very different (and fucked up) person. He’s okay now, but it took a lot of years. She had no patience for anyone who blamed the soldiers, but she definitely questioned US imperialism.

    I get along fine with a lot of wingnuts, and it’s a good thing too, given where I live and whom I’m related to. As long as we stay off certain topics, we get along very well.

  97. 97
    JPL says:

    @Keith G: What about the fear effect? Fox wants their viewers to be afraid and I think mockery works just fine to counter that. The one thing that I’m not anymore is sympathetic, to their fox affliction.

  98. 98
    Lurker Supreme says:

    I think part of it is the fact the right built a massive echo chamber. From Fox News to right-wing talk radio to conservative-owned papers (full of right-leaning news and conservative opinion columns) to an endless supply of right-wing blogs and websites, people today can get a ton of news from dozens of various sources without ever encountering anything but far-right opinions.

    I think that’s why there are so many people who started out being mildly conservative who wound up going full-on winger–they started consuming only right-wing news. At first I imagine it must have been nice getting news from sources who believed what they believed and told them what they wanted to hear, but over time it served to radicalize them–the more they consumed the more they believed what they were being told because it was all they were being told, everywhere.

    I think part of it too is that most older folks came from an era where you could trust the news anchor on the television–if it was on the nightly news it was the truth. I think a lot of them don’t realize–or maybe don’t want to realize–that those days are over, that news networks almost always have a position that they’re trying to sell you on. I think those folks watch Fox and buy their BS hook, line and sinker–they don’t realize they should be skeptical of the nonsense being reported because back in their day you didn’t have to question what the teevee newsman was telling you.

  99. 99
    burritoboy says:

    I don’t know. My parents were always extreme conservatives – indeed, they were probably always soft fascists, which isn’t too overstated a claim in their cases, since they are immigrants from Central Europe and always tended toward the far end of the right even back in the Old Country – which, back there, has always been more or less close to varieties of softer fascism. They watch Fox et al and listen to Rush, but tend to regard them as watered-down pablum for the stupid American masses. Still, they do regard that stuff positively in general, seemingly as a sort of pre-school for American conservatives. They tend to be somewhat suspicious of Murdoch, especially since he has very close ties to the Chinese commies.

    Did Fox radicalize them? I think it was only marginal in the end, but it did have a negative effect.

  100. 100
  101. 101
    Chris says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    I’m not sure it can be reversed, because so many have become true believers and evidence directly before their eyes fails to shatter their faith in this abject stupidity.

    The problem with the Fox News effect is that it’s comfortable.

    If you’re part of the Tribe it’s appealing to, it tells you everything you want to hear. That you’re a completely independent and self-made person who totally Built That (e.g. everything in your life), and that you’d be living the life of a Rockefeller if it wasn’t for the Dam’ Gubmint holding you back and celebrating mediocrity. That your country is the greatest, Exceptionalist country in the world in a Chosen People kind of way, and that your group are the most hardworking and moral and awesome people in the country (in other words, that your Identity is superior). That all your problems in life come from Other People (the blacks, the immigrants, the Muslims, the gays, the feminists, the unions, the liberals) who’re plotting against you because they secretly know how special you are and are jealous of your awesomeness. If you’re white, middle-class, male and Christian, all you have to do to succumb to the Fox Effect is let yourself believe that your poop doesn’t smell, that you’re the center of the universe, and that all your problems are somebody else’s fault.

    That’s always going to get a big audience. It’s no accident that the demographics you can really rely on to resist the Fox Effect are the poor, women, and non-white (e.g. the people that Fox isn’t trying to appeal to and instead is openly blaming for all our problems).

    For the demographics Fox is trying to appeal to, well, either they’ll reach a breaking point where the Fox bullshit/scapegoating becomes too vile and turn away (what appears to have happened to our host here), or they’ll become like addicts needing a stronger and stronger fix.

  102. 102
    Elizabelle says:

    Some nursing homes have a “no Fox News” policy, because it riles and upsets the residents.

  103. 103
    jl says:

    No time to read all of comments, so apologies if a commenter mentioned it previously, but I think the economic squeeze on middle and working class has been a big factor that strengthens the ‘Fox effect’ at least for younger people. If your own, and your children’s opportunities have been diminished, it is easier to get sold the con that it is all fault of the welfare queens, big gummint and dusky peoples and immigrants.

    Less room at the top, or near the top, sharpens competition, makes consequences of failing to get top preferences for school and careers and jobs much more severe.

    Not sure this is a big factor for weak minded elderly who are topics of many of posts at TPM, but for people who are older adults, it could be big factor. I remember the term ‘downward mobility’ being big among my older friends back in mid and late 70s who felt they were feeling effects of diminishing opportunity, and probably has only gotten worse starting with Reagan policies.

  104. 104
    scav says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I’m in a similar Faux Free Familial bubble, with one great uncle exception who died pre-Fox (entirely mail-based nut generation, maybe radio) and one uncle with MS who just believes anything he’s told from any source. again, whew.

  105. 105
    Roger Moore says:


    Any takers on estimating how many of the 10 million actually show up in Washington (to remove Obama’s government according to the rules of the Constitution, no less!)?

    I’m guessing they’ll be off by between 5 and 6 orders of magnitude (i.e. that between 10 and 100 people show up). BTW, did you notice that he included Boehner and McConnell among the people who have to be removed from office? It’s not enough to be a Republican; you have to be sufficiently supportive of the whole Teahad.

  106. 106
    Another Holocene Human says:

    I had two great aunts who died believing paranoid bullshit, most of which arrived through the mail slot. The one went from card-carrying Communist (fer reals) to some sort of paranoid neo-con thing and was paranoid about the Chinese before she died. She was a sweet old lady and it was kind of weird. In her case she married this really rich dude who took her around the world but he died about 15 years before she did. The other great aunt was always conservative in some ways, a female executive when they were rare, worked in oil industry, lurved her some GWB, paranoid about taxes, and bitter and judgmental as heck. She was always very independent but then all her friends started dying and she went blind and she was far away from all of her family.

    The first aunt was more of a Fox Effecter except I would say it was more likely paleo-con or Pat Buchanan mailing list kind of bilge, not radio or TV.

    I also have an ODS great uncle who reblogs stupid Obama-hating memes all day long on Facebook. Had to block his posts. My brother argues with him. The funny thing is, his brother is my grandfather and my grandfather isn’t like that at all. Who the hell knows.

    Most of the hate radio victims I know are coworkers. Commercial drivers have the radio on for hours… and before satellite there were not a lot of choices… and their wages have shrunk and shrunk, somebody’s to blame, right? And this tinny voice told them who to blame.

  107. 107
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    However, one of my sysadmins used to joke that there is always the “four word solution” to such intransigent cretinism

    Get Out The Vote?

  108. 108
    JPL says:

    @Lurker Supreme: That’s an important point because Fox news uses their other publications to quote, without telling folks they are all part of the same conglomerate.

  109. 109
    Chris says:


    When my parents divorced, we were living in a small rural town with little opportunity for keeping oneself busy and distracted. My mom got lonely and turned to the most obvious place for community and friendship: religion. She started attending an evangelical Christian church, and eventually met and married a very conservative man. They began to keep Fox News on the TV as background, and as so many others in the community did the same, the tenor of political talk at their church grew paranoid, vituperative, and racist.

    Oddly, I’ve had at least two bouts of “lonely, strange new place, turn to religion” moments… but in both cases I ended up leaving, and in both cases precisely because of the Fox News background. Sorry, I just can’t. I’d rather be lonely than around people who are that comfortable hating and dehumanizing so many folks who’ve done nothing to them.

    Can only hope that that will still be the case when I’m old.

  110. 110
    The MEitCong says:

    Hate radio, and later FOX, tells the listener/viewer that “You’re special! You’re deserving! You’re the real Americans! And all of these others are trying to take that away from you!” I think a lot of people who were around to witness the changes in civil rights in the ’50’s and ’60’s were more or less ambivalent about it all, but could have ultimately accepted the changes that occurred.
    Rather than that happening, though, hate radio told them they didn’t have to. It stoked existing grievances and supplied new ones. And all in a safe, insulated environment in which the viewer’s ego is flattered and never challenged.
    It’s also entertainment. I think the same group of people lost interest in the wider culture because they didn’t understand, or didn’t want to deal with, the changes that were reflected in movies and TV and popular music and sports. And again – maybe a lot of them could have transitioned to become more accepting, BUT suddenly there was this brand new genre of entertainment called dittoism, and then an entire television channel that was just theirs.

  111. 111
    Chyron HR says:


    another datapoint….you know who does not exist for Fox and its viewers…Timothy McVeigh. (and his ilk). white and angry is a protected class.

    Well, Fox certainly condemns the actions of Bill Ayers, although I’m pretty sure 99.9% of Fox News viewers would swear that he was a founding member of the Black Panthers.

    (The other .1% are the ones who call him, and I swear I didn’t make this up, “Abdullah Ayers”.)

  112. 112
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Roger Moore: There is something so psychologically alluring about saying “We’re endangered, we’re losing–time to go MOAR RADICKAL.”

  113. 113
    glory b says:

    Wow. As an African American whose parents’ generation is prettty impervious to the Fox effect, I feel incredibly sad for you guys. It must be awful to see your parents, who collectively rasied some pretty awesome kids (based on your posts here) change like that.

  114. 114
    muddy says:

    @Lurker Supreme: This. I know people who think it has to be true because it’s “on the news”.

    Another thing I’ve noticed in looking for different tv/internet options recently: you always get Fox noise all the way down to the most basic package. Some places you have to go up to about the 4th level before you get msnbc.

  115. 115
    SatanicPanic says:

    @dexwood: And I don’t want to make it about ethnicity, I mean, maybe guns and low taxes are all he cares about and who am I to judge? But it’s hard to see him swallow these ideas without thinking get with the program! At least his intense interest in conspiracy theories tends to prevent anyone else from taking him seriously.

  116. 116
    catclub says:

    @Penus: “an award from Planned Parenthood”

    My parents (83 y.o) volunteer for Crisis Control. It definitely keeps them grounded.

    Fear. There was this guy, who, if you looked it up, said ‘Fear not’ more than anything else.
    A lot of people claim to mind his words.

  117. 117
    Riley's Enabler says:

    I grew up with two non-political Republican-leaning parents. Dad started a successful business so his R views were entirely based around money and the making of. I was taught not to see color and that as a female I could kick serious ass in anything I chose to do. They raised a mouthy liberal punk and loved me no matter what color my hair was. Fast forward past their divorce and several grandchildren and I hardly recognize either. Mom is the worst, she refuses to leave her house and sits in bed watching Fox 24/7. Her television is never off – never. Everything she sees and hears is through that prism. I have had to repeatedly insist that she not try to discuss politics or begin any sentence with “Well, today on FOX…”. I am only semi-successful with this, and sometimes leave her house in tears. There is no reaching through this veil and dammit, I want my mom back. Dad is not quite as rabid but runs hot when his temper is up over some perceived OTHER getting something he thinks they should not get. We have a pact never to discuss politics, and we do just fine at gatherings. As someone up above said, I’d take it on but why ruin the rare gatherings?

    My folks are in their early 70s now. I don’t see rehabbing either as a possibility. F*ck Fox. I want my family back.

  118. 118
    eric says:

    @Chyron HR: I think you are correct.

  119. 119
    beth says:

    My parents were both born in the 1910’s. They lived through the Depression as dirt poor children of immigrants. They believed FDR saved this country and kept a picture of him, along with the latest Pope, on the wall. I never heard them ever disparage anyone for being a different color, religion or race. While they never went full-on wingnut, they did like listening to Bill O’Reilly and somehow the tv always stayed tuned to Fox. My disabled sister and her disabled husband, who live on disability payments, food stamps, welfare and Medicaid lived with them and gradually went over to the dark side. I don’t see how people who have been dealt such a shitty hand in life and health and survive on our social services safety net can watch Fox and loudly agree with what they espouse. My sister once complained about all the Hispanics in our town (which used to be all Italian) and said “they breed like rabbits”. This is the daughter of a man who had 7 brothers and sisters! She’s always telling me how sure she is that other people are gaming the system and that’s why her benefits are so small. She wants to vote Republican because they’ll cut out all the fraud and then we’ll have more money to spend on people like her who “really need and deserve it”. When I point out that Republicans want to cut benefits, she says “for people who shouldn’t be getting them”. Sometimes I think we shoud just let them run the country into the ground for a few years, let them do all the horrible things they want to and maybe, just maybe that would shut up people like my sister and make her see the truth – they don’t care anything about you! It drives me crazy.

    Anyway, part of the reason they feel this way is that they’re mostly cooped up in the house all day and can only afford basic cable, which Fox made damn sure their network is part of. They don’t get a lot of other opinions and they can’t see well enough to read anything on the internet that might change their minds.

  120. 120
    blueskies says:

    @rikyrah: Only surprising if you want to suggest equally erroneous motivations.

    The Fox and RushCo are specifically directed at older white US citizens. If they were directed at older black citizens, they’d succumb, too. The messaging will differ with the audience, but ANY identified group will succumb. The entire field of marketing is based on this, a human trait known since forever. So don’t crow too much over the sunrise, Sunshine.

  121. 121
    catclub says:

    @muddy: “Some places you have to go up to about the 4th level before you get msnbc. ‘

    And yet Fox likes to brag they have a bigger viewership than MSNBC. Well, no wonder.

  122. 122
    Keith G says:

    @JPL: Mockery is the dessert to be enjoyed after the main course of putting down a factual (and easily digestible) counter argument. Mockery can fly right over the heads of the mis, or un, informed.

    Think how many idiots didn’t realize the conceit behind the Colbert Report. Mockery from on high is easy. We need to get down in the trenches and do the hard work.

  123. 123
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @rikyrah: And I don’t remember too many white folks getting sucked into Farrakhan’s brand of paranoia, because it wasn’t pitched to them. I do remember some Black guys who obsessively listened to Rush during his heyday, presumably for the woman-bashing, but it’s going to be the rare person of color who really embraces FOX these days except for the wingnut welfare with the mindset that they have and the white supremacist line that they’re pushing. I in no way wish to falsely make an equivalence between Farrakhan and, say, Bill O’Reilly here, but I am suggesting that a portion of both of their followers are motivated by the same set of psychological factors.

  124. 124
    catclub says:

    @Riley’s Enabler: “she refuses to leave her house and sits in bed”


  125. 125
    Chris says:


    I think our economy has a problem in that American businessmen–the owners and managers–is getting actively stupider due to brainwashing by Fox and the rest of the rightwing media.

    Ah, yes. I agree with this completely.

    The wingnut reinforcement echo chamber actively encourages them not to think by telling them that whenever something they do doesn’t work, it’s only because of the unions, the government, the lack of work ethic in the common people… anything but them (ergo, Detroit car companies went under because unions were evil and greedy, not because there could possibly have been anything wrong with their products, their marketing, or anything else decided at the CEO level…) Normally, business would be subject to trial and error and experimenting just like everything else in life, but it’s hard to do that when you’re being told again and again that the “errors” aren’t really errors, but sabotage by your enemies, and then end up believing it.

    Throw in the fact that the government bailouts, wingnut welfare circuits, and practices like “golden parachutes” insulate them from their companies’ problems, and you end up with a business class that’s completely disconnected from the effects of their decisions.

  126. 126


    practices like “golden parachutes” insulate them from their companies’ problems, and you end up with a business class that’s completely disconnected from the effects of their decisions.

    For that we have to thank the con artists of the University of Chicago’s Econ department.

  127. 127
    Roger Moore says:


    I have a Latino uncle who is a teabagger.

    Let me guess: his family has been in the US for long enough for him to be thoroughly assimilated, and his skin is pale enough for him to be counted as an honorary white.

  128. 128
    SatanicPanic says:

    Man, some of these posts are heartbreaking.

  129. 129
    dan says:

    My mom is 77 and never watched FOX or listened to Rush. But many of her friends/family do. She says that she finds it harder and harder to speak with people that she’s known her entire life. “They’ve gone, like, crazy.”

  130. 130
    Chris says:


    I had a moment like that years ago, when the ACA was under discussion and a conservative friend told me she was going to Hudson and Heritage events related to health care because she didn’t know anything about it, and wanted to know enough to be able to “argue back” with her liberal boyfriend (a pre-med student whose parents had both spent their entire lives working in the medical system and thus knew it inside and out).

    I don’t even know how the fuck people can say something that stupid and not realize they’re doing it – if you don’t know anything about the topic and your boyfriend does, then maybe, just maybe, the appropriate response is something other than “I know nothing but I know these people are right because shut up that’s why?” But then I’m not a Foxbot, so what the hell.

  131. 131
    flukebucket says:

    I am so lucky that my parents (age 76 and 75) both love Colbert, Stewart and Maddow. They both despise FOX. For that I am very thankful. (Oh, and both were born and raised in the south. One in Georgia and the other in South Carolina)

  132. 132
    ellie says:

    My dad was a socialist who would scream at the TV. He hated republicans, Reagan, and Bush. He was livid over Clinton’s NAFTA. He died in 1998 but I have no doubt he would have been against the Iraq War and Bush the lesser would have given him a stroke. He was a self-taught man (he dropped out of school in the ninth grade) and he was extremely well-read. My mom is a liberal Catholic who stopped going to church because of the bullshit from the priests and the bishops.She is getting more liberal in her old age, as I am. Bring on the revolution.

  133. 133

    Put me down for mostly irreversible but will die out with demographic and media consumption changes.
    One new intake source for talk radio/Fox News is military personnel. They feel obligated to watch and listen to those sources and are frequently subjected to it whether they like it or not.

  134. 134
    Senyordave says:

    My dad was a slightly right of center Democrat, a small business owner, truly a self-made man (parents both dead by the time he was 19), who ended up probably getting more liberal the last 10 – 15 years of his life. I think he becasme more liberal because of Limbaugh and his ilk. My dad saw how idiotic the whole mindset was. He was never going to be a classic liberal, but he was able to use his life experience to form his opinions. And I think that is exactly the sort of person that Fox has trouble with.

    He went to Mississippi in 1949 because he was a sever asthmatic and the springs were thought to be good for his breathing. He said he never realized just how bad it was in the deep south. He had lived his whole life in NYC, and he knew there was racism, but what he saw in Biloxi was institutionalized racism at its worst.

    I don’t understand how people go from seemingly well-reasoned folks to “dittoheads”, but I suspect my immediate family is fairly close to immune (I have two bothers, and they might be the hardest “sells” I’ve ever met). My mom is 84 and is definitely more liberal than she used to be, but a lot of her friends are pretty hard-core conservative. She lives right next to Princeton, and some of her friends claim to know personally people who heard Michelle Obama do the “get whitey” thing while at Princeton, and that they are sure a tape exists. These are my mom’s friends and in their 80’s so I don’t want to insult them, but I did tell one of them that if that tape existed the Koch’s or Mellon would pay $100 million for it. She gave me a look, and I still think she’s pissed at my mom for my comment.

  135. 135
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Roger Moore: No, no one would peg him for anything but Mexican. Even got the cholo ‘stache. Like the rest of my family on that side he grew up in LA, but he’s much younger than my mom which means he didn’t experience the things that she did in the 50s and 60s. And he’s always been kind of a credulous person, so he’s a prime target.

  136. 136
    catclub says:

    @Senyordave: “but I did tell one of them that if that tape existed the Koch’s or Mellon would pay $100 million for it. She gave me a look, and I still think she’s pissed at my mom for my comment. ”

    External reality.

    In discussions of the ACA, instead of giving my reasons, I just point out that NO OTHER nation wants to move to our (2008) system. None. This at least quiets the crowd.

  137. 137
    Rob in CT says:


    The horrifying thing is that if the GOP takes power and cuts those benefits, your sister & her husband will probably manage to blame some “underserving” other instead of the GOP.

    It all boils down to pointing at some unlikeable person/group and saying “see, they’re stealing YOUR cookie!” (meanwhile, the .01 percenter has the other 19 cookies all to himself). Best cartoon depiction of the Right Wing message ever, that.

  138. 138
    Elizabelle says:


    She says that she finds it harder and harder to speak with people that she’s known her entire life. “They’ve gone, like, crazy.”

    Fox News is like a religion, with its certainty, and pitched at people more likely to be religious, traditional, and hierarchical.

    I remember a documentary about Bosnia (?) The filmmaker was surveying culture in a village and, although it was not her initial focus, captured the effect the arrival of a rabblerousing preacher had on longtime friendships. A pair of older women (in their late 60s-70s during the 1990s?) who had been friends and neighbors, for years, across the religion line, and suddenly one could not recognize the other.

    That preacher turned the little village into “us” and “them.” Did he prey on existing faultlines? Or did he import the ugliness?

  139. 139
    JPL says:

    @ranchandsyrup: The military is the closest thing that we have to socialism in this country, so I find that ironic.

  140. 140

    @JPL: Yup. I had a friend come back from being deployed and he was glad he could choose to escape Armed Forces Radio (because of Rush) for a while.

  141. 141
    NotMax says:

    Not sure if anyone mentioned it yet:

    one of those hideous sandworms in “Wrath of Khan”

    Beetles, not worms.

  142. 142
    Rob in CT says:

    Regarding the old “people get more conservative as they age” claim, I think that’s mostly wrong. I think people ossify as they age. People who became liberals in their formative years are probably going to stay that way – and get less and less apologetic about it. Same in reverse for Conservatives. Older people do seem to get to a place where their inhibitions drop. They get to say what they want, damnit. Where you get some Conservative drift is that what was “liberal” 50 years ago might not be very liberal any more, depending on the topic. It was liberal of me to be supportive of gay marriage 10 years ago. 40 years from now, when I’m 77, that won’t seem very liberal, I bet.

  143. 143
    Mike E says:

    Thread bookmarked. Keeper.

  144. 144
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Chris: yeah, it seems to me that making up your mind and then finding facts to support that position is putting the cart before the horse, but I’m probably just a libtard

  145. 145
    Roger Moore says:

    My family seems to be immune. I’m about as far to the right as my family gets; I certainly have to worry more about getting wacky “Bush was behind 9/11” emails than anything from Fox.

  146. 146
    Amir Khalid says:

    That’s right; sandworms be from Dune.

  147. 147
    Roger Moore says:


    Beetles, not worms.

    Ceti eels.

  148. 148
    KG says:

    it can be reversed, mostly by turning the radio off or turning it to music.

  149. 149
    mike with a mic says:

    My dad is in his 80s and a pretty vicious and vindictive asshole. He spends all day ranting about people he hates and watching TV. But he hates Christians, red necks, flyover, and generic white people. He watches MSNBC.

    But you can’t get more than a few mins without “all white people are racists”, “white people can’t bitch about losing their jobs they were born white ” and thus had to fuck up not to make it into the upper middle class, or how Christianity is a vile religion of hate. Moocher red states full of dumb ass sister fuck white Christian rednecks… and how we should just stop providing them federal aid and starve them all to death. They don’t vote for the correct side and hell they go to church.

    Now he’s always hated The Church, rednecks, hicks, people from the non coastal part of the US, whites who failed to get a masters degree and make it into the top 10%, people who listen to country or rock instead of classical, rural people, all of that with a passion, but it just got worse as he got older.

    The older he gets the more he dwells on the people he hates, his experience in WW2 death camps, the Korean war, and all the other things that drove him batty. A lot of the various pain killers, valium, and other drugs he’s on to keep him alive and not in constant pain removed his filter completely. He watches MSNBC and screams at the TV, and then rants and raves about dumb fucking hicks.

    I wonder how many other olds are just like him and on a cocktail of 32 pills a day, dwelling on all the things that pissed them off at one point in time. The joke about the drunk uncle works, he’s an ass because he’s loaded, but a lot of old people are juiced up on pills 24/7, and enjoy screaming about shit.

  150. 150
    Chris says:

    @Ash Can:

    It’s as if I’ve lost a family member to a cult.

    This seems to hit the nail squarely on the head. I’m lucky enough not to have lost any friends or family members to this cult, but that’s definitely what it is — a hermetically-sealed community of thought in which prejudices are never questioned, always enforced, and nurtured until they’re inflated out of all proportion to reality.

    Funny you should mention that, because religion (the “respectable” kind) plays a huge role in the echo chamber too.

    I’ve yet to have anyone I know go through the full “liberal-to-Foxbot” routine, but I do have at least one close friend who went from voting Dem in 2008 to sitting it out in 2012. Why? Religion. Catholic religion, and all the nonsense about Obama’s attacks on religious freedom of employers and church and whatnot. Yadda yadda, you know the drill. I doubt he’ll ever go full-on Foxbot, but I can easily see him continuing to set out elections and even gradually being brought to vote Republican under the “lesser-of-two-evils” principle (after all, abortion is genocide).

    Reason it makes it especially painful is because it’s partly from him that I first got so much exposure to the whole working-class side of the Democratic Party, the rust-belt perspective of how what used to be the industrial heartland of the country was destroyed by free-market policies hungry for cheap and unprotected labor, how crucial unions were in helping people like his parents (each a member of one). Heck, I even remember the disgust/disappointment at the election of union-busting governors in 2010, along “well, they’re getting what they voted for.” Other friends went even further in giving me that whole Northeast/Midwest white-working-class point of view (the one Fox News doesn’t want you to hear about), but he was the first.

    So yeah, while I’m not in an “I want my friend back” mode, it actually was physically painful to find out that he’d sat out the 2012 election under some “both sides evil” notion. As he said about his fellow people just two years earlier… yeah. You do get what you vote for. Or don’t vote for, as the case may be.

  151. 151
    Chris says:


    Beetles, not worms.

    Both wrong. Eels. :D

  152. 152
    Another Holocene Human says:

    So, rikyrah, I’ve been thinking about what you’ve said. And it’s probably a fair cop that elderly whites in the US are more likely to become paranoid, xenophobic, bitter crotchedy fuckers. It may be a dominant group issue and it may even be cultural, because we whites are into this nuclear family and not helping each other out and living apart thing. I’d call it English, as immigrant whites don’t tend to behave this way … at first … but actual English people aren’t quite this mean and cold to each other. So who knows? Maybe it is just a dominant group thing.

    But this FOX thing isn’t about conservative vs liberal. I can find plenty of African American men of a certain age who believe a lot of ante diluvian things about gays and women and people with disabilities and the unemployed and so on. Not as many as whites per population, that’s what I gather from canvassing over the last few years. But there are a good number. I know men who think women have minds like children and that they can mold and guide and direct them, even when real life has tried to inform them otherwise (like the guy who bragged when I met him that he controls women and his wife has to put up with his mistress… now a lot of his life revolves around his custody dates with his kids since she divorced his ass). Or the evil men who think that because a woman expresses sexual desire that it gives him license to “punish” her and she “deserves” to be used and emotionally tormented. But these guys aren’t voting Republican because the very white supremacist garbage that is causing formerly liberal whites to be drawn to FOX repulses them even more strongly.

    Chickens don’t vote for Col Sanders … unless the Colonel promised them that he was only culling those “bad” chickens and they would advance in the pecking order.

    There just isn’t a majority for conservative ideas. But there is a big base for white supremacy. If whites are more conservative as a group, it’s an effect, not a cause. The cause is status anxiety.

  153. 153
    Chris says:

    @Rob in CT:

    The horrifying thing is that if the GOP takes power and cuts those benefits, your sister & her husband will probably manage to blame some “underserving” other instead of the GOP.

    Yeah, this.

    In a nutshell, I don’t think the Fox News demographic can be won back: they’re like the post-Civil War South, where no matter how badly and completely fucked they are, it’ll always be the fault of Them Nig[CLANG!]s and not the people screwing them over, because the racial and religious hatred has overwhelmed everything else. Best we can hope for is that their kids don’t follow in their footsteps.

  154. 154
    Elizabelle says:

    Dumb suggestion, but for those with parents with declining skills:

    could you just block the Fox News channel on their set?

    Fool around with their remote while they’re otherwise engaged. See if they could handle a few days without their toxic fix.

    Watch an old movie together instead. Or one of those channels with Matlock and old sitcoms (doesn’t MeTV have stuff from the 1950s and 60s too)?

    (Some parents are more tech savvy than others.)

  155. 155
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Elizabelle: My mom did that with HER wingnut mother (they lived together) and got her hooked on Animal Planet instead. Grandma is still a wingnut, but much less obnoxious about it without her daily 10 Hours’ Hate.

    ETA: She didn’t tell Grandma she was blocking the channel; she said the station line-up changed.

  156. 156
    scav says:

    @Another Holocene Human: Maybe baseline Crotchety old non-white folk aren’t getting the afterburner propellent levels of affirmation and re-enforcement delivered daily by a tailored mainstream source. Though I’d agree that currently it’s more likely to be a white disease because of where and what this nation was like when the current olds olds formed certain underlying notions.

  157. 157
    Alex S. says:

    Fox conservatism is a religion. I guess there are two solutions – to hope that demography solves that problem… or to prove the powerlessness of their gods. And you do that by defeating them, again and again and again.

  158. 158
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @EconWatcher: Yes, there is a testosterone cycle associated with punishing those who cheat/betray the community, we could be generous and call this a justice circuit. But when you talk to hate radio bots they’re always talking about their own status anxiety, not an injustice was done or it’s not fair but basically it’s all about them and how much it’s hurting their pocketbook. So while some conservative notions do come from this justice circuit–usually misapplied with bad data, but you go to war with the David Brookses and George Wills you have–that’s not where hate radio is coming from.

    Hate radio is all about amygdala enlargement and fear/paranoia and xenophobia are two great tastes that go together. There’s a very old, atavistic part of our brain that dehumanizes our out-groups and makes us into racist monsters and when you get that lizard brain going real good you bend the human, logical mind into servings its needs by serving up selective memories and rationalizations for your animalistic desires.

    Hate radio and FOX start with status anxiety which is kindled into paranoia, xenophobia, and hate. All that fancy George Will Hobbes and Burke crap is for the consumption of very wealthy people in bubbles who want to think of themselves as good people but “realistic”.

  159. 159
    catclub says:

    OT: The Aereo case looks interesting. If it weren’t for the cloud computing aspect ( run by BIG companies) the Supreme Court would have already smacked down the little guy. In what I have seen, Aereo has said its customer essentially owns the antenna while they use it. NOT Aereo. Not getting far with people whose paycheck requires not understanding this point.

  160. 160
    Another Holocene Human says:

    If wealthy assholes feel victimized by anything, it’s tax increases.

    The fox watchers think of themselves as victims of EVERYTHING.

  161. 161
    Ella in New Mexico says:


    It’s as if I’ve lost a family member to a cult.

    Same as my husband and I and his parents. This Fox Effect thing is VERY cult-like. Just look up some of the traits and behaviors that experts agree apply to cult members, which, like some have mentioned here, are eerily similar. From constant indoctrination from an “isolated voice” on the radio or TV to the “shun those who don’t agree with us” aspects, this is more than just your garden-variety political party preference. It’s propaganda and emotional blackmail with no context or alternative viewpoints to balance it’s effects.

    I’m sure that someday, we’ll look back and realize just how stupid and dangerous it was to repeal the Fairness Doctrine.

  162. 162

    Longtime friend of mine went Black NeoConfederate listening to Limpbore and, later, working with Faux Nooze on the TV all day. We went several years without speaking. He seems to be on walkabout, maybe he makes it back. I suspect, much like any other addiction, it may be a lifelong thing. I try to put my anger aside, but it is… difficult.

  163. 163
    Old Dan and Little Ann says:

    If my soon to be 71 year old dad was as fox brainwashed as his older brothers and sisters I don’t quite know I’d handle it. My mom’s only brother unfriended me on FB months ago because he is part of the 1% and a teabagger to boot. My posts must have intruded his bubble and put him over the edge. I never insulted him directly, of course. So my Uncle had lunch with my mom and dad a few weeks ago and my Uncle said fairly early into lunch, “What happened to your son?” And my dad, according to my mom, said,”I believe everything he does.” Well that shut my Uncle up right quick. Yay, dad!

  164. 164
    Elizabelle says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    She didn’t tell Grandma she was blocking the channel; she said the station line-up changed.

    Yup. The cable company changing something again. Most believable.

  165. 165
    boatboy_srq says:

    A lot depends on where a listener was to begin with, and how deep the rabbit hole needed to be.

    My mum was suckered into the groupthink for a while. She was, however, one of those rare Maine Republicans – fiscally conservative, socially conscious, environmentally moderate-to-aggressive, and GOP as much from being thoroughly disenchanted with a very messed-up local Democratic machine as from cherishing Hoover/Eisenhower-era GOP policies. A lot of the Southern Strategy ugliness went right over her head, and the dogwhistle purveyed by Noonan, Rush and the others she missed entirely. She kept voting GOP – and sending donations to WWF and Nature Conservancy.

    We disagreed – loudly – until the day I mentioned “You do realize that you’re sending all those cheques to WWF and so on so they can fight the people you’re electing, don’t you?” She was very quiet for a few months, then started reading, and by the ’04 election was voting straight Dem. She was definitely an exception-to-the-rule story, but the take-away is worth considering: unless Fauznooze et al are reinforcing existing prejudices and bolstering opinions already held, there’s a reasonable chance that deprogramming will be successful.

  166. 166
    rikyrah says:

    This Man Is About to Die Because an Alcoholic Lawyer Botched His Case

    What does it take for a condemned person to win a resentencing?
    By Marc Bookman Tue Apr. 22, 2014 3:00 AM PDT

    When people recount their alcohol consumption after a night on the town, or even a serious bender, they usually think about it in terms of drinks. Very rarely do they calibrate their intake in quarts. So most of us don’t have a good sense of just how much a quart of vodka is—a bit more than 21 shots, as it turns out. That’s the amount of alcohol lawyer Andy Prince consumed every night during the death penalty trial of his client, Robert Wayne Holsey, a low-functioning man with a tortured past who now stands on the brink of execution in Georgia.

    When a person drinks that heavily, there’s bound to be collateral damage—and for Prince and his clients the damage was profound. Once a skilled lawyer, Prince already had dug himself a very deep hole by the time Holsey went to trial in February 1997. But the signs of his downward spiral were clear 14 months earlier, back in December 1995, when a Baldwin County judge first assigned him the case. Prince had recently defaulted on a $20,000 promissory note, and Bell South and Vanguard Financial had won separate judgments against him totaling an additional $25,000. And then there was the probate fiasco: In June 1994, a client named Margaret Collins had hired Prince to handle the estate of her deceased common-law husband, which was valued at $116,000. Within a year there was almost nothing left—Prince had spent it all. He never really considered it stealing, he later insisted. He’d always intended to pay the money back when that one big civil case came along.

  167. 167
    Rob in CT says:


    Right, that’s just it. I’ll never “deprogramm” my parents, because they were right-wingers before Fox. Fox is telling them exactly what they want to hear (wrapped in a message of fear, true, but Fox provides them with the right Good Guys – them – and Bad Guys – other people who want to take their money away).

  168. 168
    LanceThruster says:

    My dad started drinking the FAUX Kool-Aid for the same reason all guys get political (for the chicks, man!). He started to mirror the teatardness of his second missus.


  169. 169
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Chris: Has anyone related the explosion of Fauxnooze with the burbling up of FundiEvangelism? It’s nearly impossible to say there’s NOT a connection, but the transformation of “snake-oil-selling-TV-preacher” into Righteous Speaker for the Blessed and Saved™ is something I missed: one day they were frightful trolls scamming stay-at-home grandparents out of their retirement savings, the next they were Unjustly Oppressed Xtians (speaking for all Christendom in public and their own special followers in private, which two-facedness rates them a special level of Hell they can share with marketing professionals for oil and Big Ag and with career lobbyists).

  170. 170
    Keith G says:

    @Elizabelle: Yep, a dumb suggestion.

  171. 171
    NotMax says:


    Yes, and yes. Those now (about) 60* and up grew up as the first generation to have TV all their lives.

    And for a long time it was an unquestioned given that what was on the news on TV was the truth – with a capital T. That’s, to borrow a catchphrase, “the way it was.” (Yes, there were – and always are – fringe groups, but their ability to use or control mass media was so limited as to be mostly inconsequential, occasionally causing ripples in the ocean of homogeneity of the mass audience of that era as regards this mindset but rarely if ever wholly polluting it.)

    Time, events and technological changes (particularly from broadcasting to narrowcasting in that last category) have shattered that conception into Humpty-Dumpty pieces for many of those of a certain age who were not primarily passive consumers of mass media. For others, recognizing the falsity of a worldview inured during the most formative years and tossing it aside (much less replacing it with acceptance of chaos as the new norm of the marketplace of ideas) is a discomfiting, even wrenching step, so much so that holding on to the original view via habit or shallow justifications is the less painful option. Of course, there is also always a segment which is, whether by nature, by desire, by unconscious choice or motivated by core tribalism, more open to allowing themselves to be manipulated, too.

    *Full disclosure: am well into that age group

  172. 172
    theotherwa says:

    Fox is essentially a political cult. They work by making members believe they’re special and being persecuted to make them draw tighter to the group.

    Persecution – predictions of being persecuted, often combined with claiming any opposing views demonstrated against them as a form of persecution.


    Yes, many elderly get mean and nasty as the years go by, and all they need is a nudge to go full blown wingnut. The thing that surprises me is how many people my age (late 40’s) buy into the Fox bullshit. I have no clue how to undo the damage those manipulative bastards have caused.

  173. 173

    My stepfather and I conspired and disconnected the cable. My mother is back to her populist self; still hates Obama cause he’s black, but that’s an “age and era” thing more than a Fox thing. She went looking for Fox to not be called a racist, she didn’t start with Fox and then end up one, she’s been racist all her life.

    A weird thing to find in a feminist, liberal, Democratic/populist, but there it is. Probably a lot of them out there.

    I predict that Fox is going to be in for a very rough financial ride once the Kenyan usurper is out of office.

  174. 174
    NotMax says:


    Beetle larvae, then. Eels don’t sport legs or pincer mandibles.

  175. 175
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Rob in CT: Understood, and you have my sympathies. I know folks like that.

    FWIW, intellectual correction can sometimes come from the least-expected places. Nothing served as antidote to the wingnuttery of some of my undergrad classmates like the semester of religious study covering The Book (which I’m sure the trustees convinced themselves was Bible Study for College Kids and what the Theology Dept taught as The Book as Cultural and Historical Artifact). A LOT of eyes got opened digging through that, what with the umpteen versions of the creation myth, the hundreds of wives, the pages upon pages of “no meat and dairy in the same dish” in Leviticus, etc.

  176. 176
    Iowa Old Lady says:

    @Betty Cracker: Being less obnoxious about it is worth a lot. The saying is that hypocrisy if the tribute vice pays to virtue. “Hypocrisy” may be to strong a word for what’s just self censorship, but FOX gives people permission to let their obnoxiousness be spoken. Hypocrisy and self-censorship are no longer needed in the FOX hole.

  177. 177
    Citizen Alan says:

    My late father passed away last November, just two months shy of his 84th birthday. For the last fifteen years of his life, he watched absolutely nothing but ESPN (mainly basketball and baseball) and Fox Business. The latter he watched with the TV muted so the idiots talking wouldn’t distract him from the stock ticker. I attribute that to the fact that he was perfectly lucid and a decent person right up until the end. Granted, he had some racist tendencies (as you might expect from an elderly lower class white Mississippian) but over twenty years ago, I asked him politely but firmly to never use the n-word in my presence again. And he nodded at me and never did. And he voted for Obama twice.

  178. 178
    Chris says:


    Well, there was a thread on this a few days ago. The takeaway being, IIRC, that there were various reasons for the explosing in fundiegelical activism in the 1970s – but an important one of them was simply money. As with the think tanks and media outlets that sprouted during that time period, a lot of evangelists found that preaching the right wing gospel was an easy way to be showered in money from wealthy donors who could make them a lot richer and better connected than if they’d been trying to build their churches on nothing but their communities’ tithes.

    That’s really a microcosm of what happened across the entire country: conservative elites poured billions and billions of dollars into people who in the old days would’ve been dismissed as cranks, freaks and outcasts and building them up into a real, “mainstreamed” movement.

  179. 179
    nancydarling says:


    Yes, many elderly get mean and nasty as the years go by, and all they need is a nudge to go full blown wingnut.

    As a 70 year old (pushing hard on 71) I say “fuck” a lot more than I used to. Other than that, I think I grow more liberal with age. At least more compassionate and I try to walk a mile in everyone’s shoes. Right wing xtianists and militia types vex me the most and their shoes are the hardest to put on. I’m also vexed by the “both sides do it” folks.

  180. 180
    xenos says:

    I am rather proud of my father for not falling for it. He is a very conservative guy, voted R in every election in his life until recently.

    As white, straight, midwestern kind if dude you could ever meet. From a middle class background he made to Harvard, Wall Street, a CFO position for a paper and chemicals corporation.

    The abu Graibh happened, and it all melted away. For the first time in his life he felt his honor insulted, and soon he was hosting fund-raisers for John Kerry, and being even more disgusted when Kerry lost (“welcome to being a Democrat, Dad!”).

    Now he lives in a 1%er enclave in Florida where Fox is on all the time, at the Barber, the dentist, the boutiques, everybody’s fucking TV. IT is obviously a cult, but some escape it.

    My very liberal mother is thrilled. After 55 years of marriage she has retroactively won every damn argument since 1956.

  181. 181
    NotMax says:

    @Chris – @boatboy_srq

    Probably would appear quaint now, but nonetheless everyone ought to watch Marjoe at least once.

  182. 182
    aimai says:

    @Bobby Thomson: I think there’s a control group of white people who don’t watch fox. My parents are among them. Age 83, both of them, and still very much on the left. They are also too busy to watch any TV or even TV news. My father gets most of his information from newspapers and political blogs. My mother reads newspapers and the Huffington post. But I can see the way she receives information from the HuffPo that her ability to criticize or speak back to the articles she reads is limited. If she were watching Fox news? I’m not sure if she could really fight back.

  183. 183
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Punchy: Sesame Street has always been a target of right-wing rage. Why? Don’t listen to the words, look at the colors of the humans on the screen. And I don’t mean the Muppets.

  184. 184
    beergoggles says:

    It doesn’t need to be reversed. We just need to cut medicare and social security so that they have less free time.

  185. 185
    Elizabelle says:


    I predict that Fox is going to be in for a very rough financial ride once the Kenyan usurper is out of office.

    I’m not so sanguine there. It will be harder, but Fox and too many in the GOP find any Democratic president to be illegitimate. There will be an audience and fresh poutrage.

    It will be interesting to watch what happens with Fox News if populism takes root in this country. They’re for the wealthy, Republican lawmakers, defense contractors, and big business.

    What happens if and when the little American realizes how badly screwed he/she is?

    That economic inequality and climate change are going to affect him and his family and their prospects, now or very soon.

    That believing the crap sold by Fox News has become an unaffordable luxury?

  186. 186
    Bill Arnold says:


    Now he lives in a 1%er enclave in Florida where Fox is on all the time, at the Barber, the dentist, the boutiques, everybody’s fucking TV.

    Get him a TV-B-Gone as a gag gift. (I see it on as well.)
    Also, I’ve found that if you ask if you can turn the sound down on a Fox-TV in a public place, people will often enthusiastically say yes. Ideal is to mute it and turn subtitles on, then everyone is happy.

  187. 187
    theotherwa says:

    @nancydarling: I’m glad you’re still thinking for yourself. I wish more 70+ folks were like you. I’ve met many who do not. They are the easy pickings for the hatemongers.

  188. 188
    Matt McIrvin says:

    I actually think my generation, Gen Xers now in our forties, are going to be worse. We’re already heavily into the libertarian-right, low-tax nonsense. We were the core of the post-9/11 Internet right. When we get real old and watch the 2040s equivalent of Fox all day we’ll probably turn into straight-up Nazis.

  189. 189
    danielx says:

    “I find your lack of faith…disturbing.”

    My parents went totally in the other direction, oddly enough. Both born in the early 1920s, FDR was the only president they knew for most of their early years. They eventually became Eisenhower Republicans; loved them some Grandpa Ike. They started to lose their faith in government – presidents, anyway – along about 1968 due to ongoing events in Southeast Asia. By 1971 my dad, a very patriotic guy who spent four years in the Army in some of the worst places in the world, was telling me to go to Canada because “there wasn’t a goddamned thing in Veet-nam worth one more American boy’s life”. Then along came Evil Dick hisself, and they became more or less apolitical at that point. The Democratic Party they’d known was long gone, and the Republicans turned out to be, in my mother’s words, “a bunch of criminals and con men”…as they remain today, with a lot of fanaticism thrown in for good measure.

    Who knows, if they’d been ten years younger they might have bought into Rush’s bullshit. As it was, they’d heard every kind of propaganda there was (is) by the time they reached their sixties and no longer believed anything anybody said on television, at least once Walter Cronkite had retired.

    But I’ve had friends go Rushing down the primrose path, as it were, and you can’t convince them or reason with them about anything – not for love, logic or money. They know what they know and ain’t nobody gonna convince them otherwise, and if you point out certain contradictions – such as how Medicare is socialized medicine, and everybody seems to like it pretty well – they end up getting mad because cognitive dissonance makes them uncomfortable. A lot of those people are no longer friends.

  190. 190
    Chris says:


    What happens when Fox News viewers realize they’re being screwed? IF they realize they’re being screwed, well, that’s not going to do anything to change their views of gays, blacks, immigrants, Muslims, hippies et al. So maybe they form their own far right movement similar to those you see in Europe (BNP in Britain, FN in France, BZO in Austria) – racist and anti-capitalist/globalist/1%er. Which wouldn’t necessarily be the worst thing in the world, as being separated from their big money would do a lot to marginalize them.

  191. 191
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!: Never underestimate the rage-inducing potential of Hillary Clinton. She’s been the Great Satan of conservative hate literature since long before anyone ever heard of Obama. And she’s a woman. There are vast reservoirs of crude sexism that are only beginning to be tapped.

  192. 192

    I actually think my generation, Gen Xers now in our forties, are going to be worse. We’re already heavily into the libertarian-right, low-tax nonsense. We were the core of the post-9/11 Internet right. When we get real old and watch the 2040s equivalent of Fox all day we’ll probably turn into straight-up Nazis.

    @Matt McIrvin: I’m from the same age cohort and could not agree more. We have some real shitheels that are causing the nation a lot of damage, and I’m afraid that will get worse before it gets better (gonna be a long time for all of us to die off).

  193. 193
    Pee Cee says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    I actually think my generation, Gen Xers now in our forties, are going to be worse.

    Luckily for the country, there are less of us than those other generations.

  194. 194
    KithKanan says:

    @Elizabelle: your suggestion gives a whole new meaning to “parental controls”.

  195. 195
    Jamey says:

    @rikyrah: Not even Redd Foxx?

  196. 196
    satby says:

    Man. I always come late to the great threads. I’ve been grappling with the Fox Effect for years now, my formerly lovely mother has turned into the most vile wingnut and totally down to Fox. She thinks O’Liely is a minor deity. I have told her that numerous medical studies have implied cognitive problems in frequent watchers; she doesn’t quite believe me but she’s worried enough about keeping her cognitive chops that it has caused her to cut back on viewing… just in case I’m right.

  197. 197
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Pee Cee: Beat me to it. And I’d even say it’s the older half of us that are terrible. I blame the 80s. Those of us who came of age in the 90s aren’t so bad.

  198. 198
    JPL says:

    @satby: Have your mom read the smoking thread on O’Reilly.

  199. 199
    Ajabu says:

    @rikyrah: Funny that. I was just thinking the same thing. Even the most conservative people in my family are only concerned about their religion and that the grandchildren be raised “proper”.
    Ain’t no Black folk getting into Fox unless they’re on the wingnut welfare gravy train.
    And nobody I know has that degree of self loathing.

  200. 200
    Annamal says:

    This is a convoluted chain of reasoning so bear with me.

    After the Christchurch earthquake, there was 24/7 disaster coverage, every time I saw part of it I would get a small spike of adrenaline. In the end as things ramped down I realised that I’d gottten accustomed to that sense of urgency and in a weird way almost addicted to that little flare of adrenaline.

    I have this theory that Fox news is a master at creating that little adrenaline spike over and over again. All cable news channels do it but Fox is amazing at generating situations that feed the spike.

    So if I’m right then Fox news is(on a very very small scale) physically addicting people as well as telling them to live in fear and be angry.

  201. 201
    catclub says:

    @Elizabelle: ” if populism takes root in this country.”

    Well, the last time it took root, William Jennings Bryan was not yet an anti-evolution wackaloon, and he also got clobbered running for President, so don’t hold your breath.

  202. 202
    Jebediah, RBG says:

    This kind of shit is one of the things that can really push me into despair. Shining city on a hill my fucking ass. Executing the mentally deficient, executing defendants whose counsel were seen to be sleeping during the trial, a lawyer who was drinking a fucking quart (!) of vodka a night…We need to stop executing people, period.

  203. 203
    catclub says:

    @Annamal: This.

    I think if you asked them “Does watching it make you happy?” Their honest answer is no, but they still watch.

  204. 204
    Jebediah, RBG says:


    All cable news channels do it but Fox is amazing at generating situations that feed the spike.

    I think it’s easier to do if you actively reject any ethics or obligation to the truth.
    And I think your theory is very plausible.

  205. 205
    danielx says:



    They need that anger jolt, and they need more of it over time to maintain a certain level of constant outrage.

  206. 206
    Anna in PDX says:

    I agree with the other Gen Xers who think there are a lot of idiots in our, mercifully smaller, generation. I have higher hopes for my children’s generation.

    I also think, living in Oregon, and having grown up in a very rural area and now living in the largest city, that apart from the age Fox effect, there is a real urban/rural divide with rural folks having a lot of weird resentment of city folks, not just the race oriented prejudices but also just the resentment that city folks have more stuff to do and more interesting lives, or something, and the idea that they, the rural folks, are more “independent” or whatever and don’t get the same level of services. I am often blindsided by weird attitudes from my FB acquaintances that are from the rural part of my life. I often see them spout what I already know as Fox talking points. It is kind of depressing. That said, I do not want to paint them with too broad a brush – lots of my rural friends are quite savvy about politics and have varying attitudes on different topics, they are not all foxbots by any means.

  207. 207
    Anna in PDX says:

    @satby: Good idea for those who watch too much of the wrong TV. Rather than change the channel, they can just turn it off and switch to Sudoku or something to ward off alzheimers. Whether it is true or not it will definitely be a net benefit for those who are related to them!

    My parents, who are divorced and married to other people, are both extremely liberal and activist, so I feel really lucky. My mom is incredibly inspiring to me, and just turned 74.

  208. 208
    Iowa Old Lady says:

    @satby: I don’t know whether what you told your mother is true, but it’s an awesome tactic.

  209. 209
  210. 210
    bemused says:


    Your fil isn’t against SS and VA for himself because he deserves it. He earned it. He worked hard, blah, blah. It’s evil socialism for those other people who get all these freebies who are lazy, won’t get off the sofa and taking money out of his pocket. Most of them think this.

  211. 211
    Patricia Kayden says:

    “Have you seen the Fox Effect among your friends, relatives and acquaintances?”

    Thankfully no, but I’m Black. I only know a handful of Black acquaintances who are pro-Republican.

  212. 212
    satby says:

    @bemused: they all think that: “benefits for me but not for those undeserving types”. Dig down enough and undeserving almost always = some shade other than white.

  213. 213
    adepsis says:

    Regarding dialing them back – Sara Robinson had 2 series of posts on this subject at Dave Neiwert’s place ( several years ago. You can find them on the left sidebar – “Cracks in the Wall” and”Tunnels and Bridges”. Both were outstanding.

    ETA: It’s been a while, but IIRC it does take a board upside the head to get the process started.

  214. 214
    slag says:

    Definitely experienced the FOX effect with my parents as I was growing up. They both used to be somewhat heterdox in their views, though fairly conservative from my standpoint. But through the grace of Rush Limbaugh and FOX, in particular, they turned into raving loonies over time. Neither was old enough for the transformation to be the result of adult-onset dementia. There really was little else to explain it.

    On the plus side for me, I now know what brainwashing looks like up close and feel somewhat inured to its tactics.

  215. 215
    JPL says:

    @satby: It’s the smoking gun.. link

    here’s another link

    google the smoking gun and o’reilly.. I had no problem sending the links to friends and using the M word.

  216. 216
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    From your link:

    There are 3 primary phases to the plan:

    Phase 1 – Field millions, as many as ten million, patriots to assemble in a peaceful, non-violent, physically unarmed

    They lost me at “physically unarmed.” Like ten million wingnuts are going to show up without packing. All righty, then.

  217. 217
    John Weiss says:

    @Bobby Thomson: Heh, I live in Brookings, OR. Hotbed of wingnut thought in many ways. And yet – and yet! The wife and I have not only uncovered a hotbed of smoldering Liberalism, we’ve helped fan the flames.

    Now we have a permanent Democratic headquarters downtown. Not that we have attracted hundreds, but we’ve attracted dozens . In a tiny town, it’s something.

    And we’re all “olds”. But we don’t act like it.

  218. 218
    bemused says:


    Yes and I swear they think they can feel the undeserving pulling dollar bills out of their wallets. One white guy said no one has the right to expect SS should pay him/her more than he/she put in, nor SS cost of living increases. They should have just worked longer if SS wasn’t enough for them. I laughingly asked him if he would cut a check for SS overpayments to him if he takes out more than he put in and he said he’d consider it but he will take SS and won’t refuse col increases because it’s his money and he deserves it. He told me I was confused.

  219. 219
    The Pale Scot says:


    I’m convinced, having sat in his house and watched a bit of Fox with him, that all the graphic effects and sounds have a hypnotic effect that increases the power of the message.

    Having done some video editing, I can tell tell you there are textbooks written with psychologists that describe how to go thru your clip frame by frame and construct your message so that it bypasses one’s intellectual/skeptical filter and acts on the emotional.

  220. 220
    ruemara says:

    My mum started to head down neocon lane, but not via Fox. It was too much ‘Christian’ tv. Sitting there, absorbing so much pretend information from CBN and various preachertainments like Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer. She turned them off after the whole kerfluffle where Rick Warren’s wife was a jerk on a plane. It offended her religious sensibilities, to see the Warrens were so rich, abusive to poorer people and unchristian in demeanor. She said she was like ” what are you asking me for money for, if you’re wearing expensive clothes and have big house”. She realized that she couldn’t see any real ministry for any of them, but she did see them looking fatter and richer. So she stopped listening to any preacher on tv, or that was too rich or who was conservative (since they do too much blaming, and prosperity gospel) & she does a local small church and only supports them & a lady who does prison outreach. I was relieved. She may be mom, but it would not stop me from going passing on neocon garbage.

  221. 221
    Pogonip says:

    Don’t forget what Fox leaves OUT. My parents are both victims of Fox, and when I say it’s a shame that so many hundreds or thousands of people were laid off, for example, at least one of them will say in honest surprise, “But the economy is improving! Despite Obama!”. Fox is a Potemkin village whose peasants even believe it’s real. I suggest passing laws against fomenting sedition and shutting Fox and talk radio down.

  222. 222
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Nellie in NZ:

    You know, it’s interesting to listen to radio, now that I’m attuned to this. Earlier this evening I was listening to “The Ed Show” (Ed Schultz, on MSNBC — I don’t watch his program, but I often hear the audio in the car on Sirius XM Radio). He’s not my favourite host, but I never had major problems with him, and in fact generally agree with his positions on policy and political issues — but tonight, when Ed and I were alone in my car, it struck me how very similar to Rush Limbaugh he is. Not in the content, obviously, but absolutely in the tone: hectoring, lecturing, pontificating, superior, shouty. I hadn’t really noticed it before, at least not consciously. Now I’m not sure I can ever listen to him again. This stuff is insidious.

    ETA: I will check out Kim Hill. Thanks for the recommendation. I assume I can find the interviews (podcasts and/or transcripts) on the Intertubes.

  223. 223
    Pogonip says:

    @Anna in PDX: If they only knew: most of us city folk spend a lot of time doing such fascinating urban things as sitting in traffic, spending whole afternoons working our way through big boxes, cleaning up dog poip when you don’t have a dog, shoveling out the end of the driveway after the snowplow goes by…yes, the urban life is indeed glamorous.

  224. 224
    bemused says:


    A to Z! I have a mild curiosity if there are some rightwing arguments in there I haven’t already heard but it’s probably not worth the aggravation to find out.

  225. 225
    Pogonip says:

    @Pogonip: Er, that’s dog POOP, not poip. How come Apple is eager to change real words I type but ignores obvious typos?

  226. 226
    bemused says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    My in-laws are over 90 and lifelong Dems. My fil has always enjoyed talking politics. Now that he is 94, he says whatever is on his mind even if he is talking to a rightwinger including one son. The son loves his dad but it must drive him crazy keeping his mouth shut.

  227. 227
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Bobby Thomson:

    There’s no control group of old white folks who don’t watch Fox.

    SiubhanDuinne puts hand up to volunteer.

  228. 228
    Woodrowfan says:

    My Dad was going that path in the Clinton years. He passed away from cancer and I miss him, but I have the feeling it spared us a lot of arguments…

  229. 229
    SatanicPanic says:

    @bemused: Makes me wonder what some of the more obscure letters represent. Z? X?

  230. 230
    bago says:

    In an Irish pub and I heard the original version of this song:
    What is it?

  231. 231
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    As a 70 year old (pushing hard on 71) I say “fuck” a lot more than I used to. Other than that, I think I grow more liberal with age. At least more compassionate and I try to walk a mile in everyone’s shoes. Right wing xtianists and militia types vex me the most and their shoes are the hardest to put on. I’m also vexed by the “both sides do it” folks.

    Nancy, I couldn’t identify more. I will be 72 in a few months, and I, too, am much more liberal with every passing year. (And yes, I also say “fuck” much more than I used to, and those who don’t like it? Fuck’em.)

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    Cheryl from Maryland says:

    Oh this makes me miss my dad. An Obama supporter from the get go in SW Virginia at age 80, he had Obama signs in his yard. He read three newspapers a day; I think his decline started when the WAPO and the NY times were no longer available in his city. He never watched TV news.

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    notorious JRT says:

    Weighing in without having read other comments. I have most definitely observed in my siblings. I call them Foxified. It is not just conservative political views; they are ultra-sensitive to their own sense of grievance and make a lot of sweeping statements that to my ears come straight from right wing media. They absorb and emit back into their environment all the right wing grievances. It is as if Fox turns their ability to reason WAY down and replaces reason with tribal grievance chants. Smart people, caring people but wanting everyone off their damn lawns. When challenged, they sometimes snap out of it. I was with them once when they were going off about some thing or other. I said (surprising myself), “Jesus, when did you get so damn crusty?” They just looked shocked, but they stopped with the diatribe.

    I think it can be reversed, but I don’t see how you get them away from Fox & right wing talk, which is the minimum it will take.

  234. 234
    Svensker says:


    . I tried weaning him off the hardcore FOX and American Spectator stuff by giving him a subscription to The American Conservative but I don’t think he really took to it — not enough showbiz outrage.

    Tried that, too. Didn’t work. My big brother is lost to Rush “Grima Wormtongue” Limbaugh. Used to be the sweetest guy in the world. Now is crabby and mean and it just makes me so sad.

  235. 235
    phillygirl says:

    Beats me. My mom moves leftward with age, along with all her old League of Women Voters pals. Same with all the other older people I can think of, some of whom were once Republicans but pretty much left off with Jerry Ford. I don’t think it ever occurred to any of these people to watch Fox, for any reason. Am I living on a special little planet?

  236. 236
    bemused says:


    lol, I wondered that too.

  237. 237
    Anna in PDX says:

    @John Weiss: Southern Oregon coast represent! I grew up in Port Orford.

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    🌷 Martin says:

    Have you seen the Fox Effect among your friends, relatives and acquaintances?

    Sort of. My mom was more of an anti-Democrat than a proper conservative. She’s pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, etc. She definitely got on the wingnut bandwagon in 2008 and signed on with Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, but I think I convinced her that she was far more out in the weeds than she realized. All of that positive reinforcement within the bubble convinced her she was mainstream. She turned off a lot (but not all of it) and has come back a fair bit from where she was.

    tl;dr version: no shit propaganda works. It’s always worked. Why is this some new discovery?

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    Betty Cracker says:

    @Pee Cee: Yeah, and our kids tend to be ultra-libs — they’ll save us.

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    WereBear says:

    I think it’s not a coincidence that the two most fervent Fox-watchers I know were both people who turned out to be suffering from dementia.

    I personally don’t worry about getting sucked into Fox because it evokes nausea and the feeling that my nerves are getting frayed by an emery board.

    I must have antibodies.

    I totally agree with the “adrenaline addiction” theory. Still, I’m floored by the fact that this is such a popular hobby. I could fill hard drives with things I’d rather do that watch TV all day, much less Fox.

  241. 241
    Quicksand says:

    OK, sure, I’ll concede that Fox News has had a tremendous impact on the discourse in this country. But what about the Lefty Blog Effect? #bothsidesdoit

  242. 242
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Rob in CT: Technically they will grasp for new status distinguishers which probably means more racism.

    My maternal grandmother voted for Reagan even though he ran on cutting benefits. Then he cut her benefits, and she was shocked. I don’t really know how the story would have ended because she voted for that jackwagon again but then succumbed to cancer and bad surgerying by 1989. (My parents were glued to the tube watching Mondale and bemoaning the state of the country.)

    These folks just “know” that their hero didn’t mean to hurt them. First they bargain by visiting their winger congressturd or state reps. Sometimes they get speshull bills advanced in the state lege or whatever. If that doesn’t work they figure they must have been mistaken for moochers and get obsessed with distinguishing themselves from moochers. As Americans we often look to consumption signals for this but credit is tight. So here comes obsessing over ethnicity, religion, immigration status, and even political views.

  243. 243
    MomSense says:

    I finally had a chance to watch the clip above and to read the comments. I googled Fox and cult and found some interesting articles about the subject. Now I’m doing some research and watching Bill O’Reilly’s program. Holy tamales but the framing is relentless. They do it so well. Just watched a discussion of the SCOTUS affirmative action decision and it was just ripe with right wing framing.

    Maybe we could run one segment from a FOX program every week and just break it down in the comments. I would be interested to read how others in this community perceive the way FOX manipulates/reports/entertains/brainwashes. It strikes me that the techniques they use are pretty sophisticated. I can see how people could watch and not realize that they were being manipulated.

  244. 244
    Pogonip says:

    @WereBear: Might Fox Geezer Syndrome be an early warning of senility? My mom used to have it on 12 hours a day. She is now so cognitively impaired she can’t follow the yelling heads–Er, the talking heads–anymore. If we had had any idea what would follow innocuous, if annoying, FGS, we’d have tried much harder to get her away from it. Maybe those of you seeing incipient FGS in your parents should try hard to get them to a neurologist.

  245. 245
    coin operated says:

    I lost a very good friend for a couple of years to the ‘Fox Effect”. It was during the birther years. See, my dad didn’t have a birth certificate either…the best he could do from his rural, country-doctor Minnesota county was a certificate of baptism. When I told my friend that my dad didn’t have a ‘long form’ birth certificate either, but was still able to vote and get a passport, he said “well, he shouldn’t be able to do those things”

    I told him to go piss up a rope, and if he had real balls he could tell my dad that to his face. My dad is an old-school Norwegian, and at 82 I’d be afraid to take him on one-on-one. Took my buddy two years, but he did finally apologize.

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    West of the Rockies says:

    @John Weiss: I would love to stop by and say howdy; I love Brookings and get up there almost every year for the Azalea Festival. Keep up the good work!

  247. 247
    bago says:

    @catclub: Qua on Aero?

    I have done cloud services and in ten years wires will be a figment of charging imaginations. Care to expound?

  248. 248
    Zelma says:

    Can be reversed. For reasons not necessary to discuss here, I was able to prevent my husband from watching Fox News and listening to conservative radio c. 2007. If he wanted to watch a news channel, it had to be MSNBC. (CNN was already brain dead). The result was a much less paranoid fellow who hasn’t voted for a single Republican since 2006. Of course, my rabidly conservative step-daughter has accused me of “stealing” her father’s brain.

  249. 249
    Matt McIrvin says:

    In my own family, I actually haven’t observed much of this. I have many right-wing relatives, but they were always hard right, and if anything the older ones have mellowed over the years in that they’ve backed away from really blatant racism.

    My parents are liberal Democrats, albeit the kind who pay attention to the Washington Post and think I’m crazy for calling Fred Hiatt a neocon. My surviving grandma votes Democratic these days, I think in part because she’s 95 and can remember the Great Depression.

  250. 250
    mere mortal says:

    Roger Ailes, who plays Darth Vader to Rupert Murdoch’s Emperor Palpatine (mixing sci-fi metaphors, but you know what I mean)

    Umm, no mixed metaphor, it’s the same sci-fi story. I would have gone with Ailes/Murdoch as Vader and Limbaugh as Palpatine.

    The Sith self-pity and revenge fantasy is Limbaugh’s oeuvre, siren’s song, cri de coeur, and joie de guerre.

    Now there’s a mixed metaphor for ya.

  251. 251
    dianne says:

    What a great thread. I don’t read too many all the way through, but I did this one. I was a changeling yellow dog dem dropped into a family of right wingers in the deep south. Got out thirty years ago, thankfully, and don’t have to be a part of that society anymore. I am able to be a part of my families’ lives by studiously avoiding politics. They know my views and after a few screaming matches we have agreed to disagree. Fox certainly gave them affirmation but was never the catalyst – it was already there and just waiting for the media to catch up. Religion is a big part of the mix. In the south, “where do you go to church?” is the first or second question asked of new people. If you don’t answer correctly, expect to be shunned.My brother once told me that anyone with my views would have to move. I reminded him that I had.
    By the way, I love the obvious intelligence and well thought out comments on this blog. And the trolls stayed away, for once.

  252. 252
    David in NY says:


    There’s no control group of old white folks who don’t watch Fox.

    SiubhanDuinne puts hand up to volunteer.

    Me too!!

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    Paul in KY says:

    @rikyrah: I think Blacks maybe have better BS detectors & also the propaganda is not geared to Blacks either.

  254. 254
    Paul in KY says:

    @Jim C.: Good job, Jim!

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    Paul in KY says:

    @nancydarling: Wish I’d got to meet them.

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    bumper says:

    I saw my husband turn into a wingnut after 9/11. The day of the attack he was very angry and wanted revenge. So he went all in on supporting Bush and his policies, otherwise he couldn’t see himself as a true patriotic American. It was important to his identity. Even when it was obvious that mistakes were made, he had to keep on defending the war, he had to lie to himself which made things worse. He also had low self-esteem so people like Rush and Palin made him feel better by telling him he was smarter than liberals.

  257. 257
    Paul in KY says:

    @Nellie in NZ: My dad is 90, and has been diagnosed with senile dementia. Every once in awhile he will say to me repeatedly ‘Paul, look how old my hands have gotten’.

    He is still a proud Democrat, though!

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    Paul in KY says:

    @xenos: Is it that ‘Seaside’ place near Seagrove Beach? That place is creepy, IMO.

  259. 259
    xenos says:

    @Paul in KY: Vero Beach. Like Boca, but more white. Really white, except for some of the waitstaff at the country club.

  260. 260
    Paul in KY says:

    @xenos: Thank you for answering so late. Best wishes!

Comments are closed.