Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Fox News causes brain rot

Luke O'Neil in New York magazine:

...No matter where the stories came from they all featured a few familiar beats: A loved one seemed to have changed over time. Maybe that person was already somewhat conservative to start. Maybe they were apolitical. But at one point or another, they sat down in front of Fox News, found some kind of deep, addictive comfort in the anger and paranoia, and became a different person — someone difficult, if not impossible, to spend time with. The fallout led to failed marriages and estranged parental relationships.

For at least one person, it marks the final memory he’ll ever have of his father: “When I found my dad dead in his armchair, fucking Fox News was on the TV,” this reader told me. “It’s likely the last thing he saw. I hate what that channel and conservative talk radio did to my funny, compassionate dad. He spent the last years of his life increasingly angry, bigoted, and paranoid.”

Something about the piece struck a chord. It had gone viral, and wave after wave of frustrated and saddened Fox News orphans began to commiserate with me and with each other on Twitter and in my messages. 

Others wrote of similar phenomenon in Australia with the television channel Sky or in the U.K. with the tabloid Daily Mail. I heard from more than a hundred people who felt like they could relate to what they all seemed to think of as a kind of ideological brain poisoning. They chose Fox News over their family, people told me. They chose Fox News over me.

There was the one reader who wrote of his Puerto Rican uncle becoming a Fox News junkie, and turning on his own people, as he put it, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. “He was literally sitting in the dark and still defending Trump,” he said, which seemed a metaphor almost too on the nose...

Young parents wrote that they don’t want to bring their children to visit aging Fox-brainers. “The worst is when my children go to spend time with their grandparents and come home with Fox News talking points coming out of their mouths,” one told me. “I have to decontaminate them every time”...

One woman told me about her mother, who has stopped talking to her since becoming convinced Democrats are murdering children. It wasn’t always this way, she explained. Her mother had been a Democrat until 2008, and then something switched.

A lot of the stories echoed that turning point. There was something about Obama that seemed to make a lot of previously apolitical or moderate family members lose their minds. Gosh — what could it have possibly been?

This is, I think, where the channel’s genius lies. Any salesperson or con artist will tell you that you can’t insert a thought in a mark’s mind out of nowhere. You have to find the hook that’s already there — fear, or desire — and exploit it. 

When it comes to exacerbating and honing the anxieties of aging Americans you can’t do much better (or worse) than race and immigration...

O'Neil's blog: Welcome to Hell World.

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2 Comments:

At 5:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a little confused. Are we now blaming Fox News for democrats bullshit now? Are you absolutely sure that it's Fox News and not democrats being mentally controlled by aliens?

 
At 12:18 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

No, it's Fox News that empowers semi-literate racist assholes like you and your contemptible leader.

 

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