How Fox News Created a Vacuum Of Ignorance And Filled It With Donald Trump
The fact that a con man, a pathological liar, a bold racist and a sexual predator to succeed the first African-American president is unambiguous evidence that our democracy is not functioning properly. Donald Trump’s election is both embarrassing and terrifying. But a demagogue like Trump wouldn’t be possible if not for the impoverished culture of anti-intellectualism that conservative media like Fox News have worked so tirelessly to foment.
According to several studies, gullible Fox viewers are the most misinformed in the country. They crave mindless, inane entertainment over intricate discussions of objective policy. Fox News instills in its viewers a formidable distaste for critical thinking. It encourages dogmatism while discouraging curiosity. It teaches people to care more about “what” a belief says about the world than “why” one should accept it. That made it easy for Donald Trump to fill the vacuum of ignorance and promote a campaign of fear and bigotry that ultimately led him to tweet his path all the way to the White House one insult at the time.
One study even found that Fox News viewers are more misinformed than people who don’t watch any news at all. From climate change to Obama’s birthplace to the Iraq War to Obamacare, conservatives are far more likely to hold demonstrably false beliefs — often with tremendous, unshakable confidence. This is incredibly dangerous to our country’s future because critical thinking is the intellectual backbone of every functioning democracy.
Fox success is anchored in fear and bigotry.
By elevating terrorism above other crimes, to the status of existential threat, Fox News has become a master of fear, constantly delivering “news alerts” on the threat of terrorism and Muslims in general. Ironically, the far right, which Trump coddles and whose dog whistles he cheerfully blows, is responsible for more terrorism than Muslims in the US.
Fox Cable News, the baby of billionaire and extremely corrupt press lord Rupert Murdoch, and run by serial sexual harasser Roger Ailes until he was forced to resign, spent tens of thousands of hours and tens of millions of dollars to promote hatred of Muslims.
But a dysfunctional democracy is, of course, exactly what Fox News wants, for the obvious reason that it makes controlling the masses of cognitively stunted voters much easier. But then Trump rolled in with charismatic authoritarianism and quickly filled the vacuum of ignorance, fear and gullibility that Fox News and its media cohorts had diligently carved out for the past eight years.