Fox News Fans Actually Believe The Lies, That's Why They're A Lost Cause
Persuasion can't work with this crew
“They can’t really believe that, though? Not really.”
That is frequently the reaction from liberals when faced with the sheer enormity and audacity of the falsehoods that many on the right believe and repeat.
These are complex, wide-ranging conspiracies often spanning years and decades, requiring enormous groups of people working in perfect concert with each other, never leaking inside information or breaking the blue wall of silence.
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Take, for instance, the purported destruction of several American cities in the summer of 2020.
This is something Republicans in Congress regularly reference, a shared point of reference they use to deflect from investigations into the January 6 Capitol attack. They’ll ask why the federal government is turning a blind eye to the actions of Black Lives Matter and Antifa during that summer, even as they arrest hundreds of Trump supporters.
Those who are not glued to Fox News are unlikely to know what these Republican members of Congress are talking about. But for Fox superfans this line of rhetoric hits them in their hearts.
After all, when these people engaged in their daily ritual of turning on Fox in summer 2020, they “saw” the “reality” with their own two eyes. Over and over again, programs like “Fox & Friends” opened up their broadcasts showing footage of cities like Portland, Oregon, in absolute flames, buildings reduced to rubble, and unpoliced streets running wild with dedicated Black and/or leftist militants.
These images were reinforced by Donald Trump, himself a Fox News superfan, who tweeted incessantly about the purported state of emergency and who sent in federal troops to quell the anarchy.
And Fox News viewers were shown these images again and again, often long after the relatively small protests had been quelled, and reminded that leftists, liberals, and Democrats had destroyed these cities. It had to be true. They saw it on Fox.
People were and are genuinely concerned by what they saw. When I brought up this topic on Twitter, a litany of people recounted stories of friends and family members expressing concern for their wellbeing as they lived in the battle ravaged cities that Fox kept telling them about.
These people are not cynically faking it and pandering to emotion like Republican senators. They truly believe this happened, and that the mainstream media is complicit in not covering it, and that figures like President Joe Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi explicitly supported the violence — even as those same figures specifically condemned it.
Yet these very same people, if you believe a lot of Democrats, can nonetheless be converted into Democratic voters. Somehow.
Democratic leaders almost uniformly subscribe to the school of thought that Fox News watchers are like people who pay attention to any other media outlet: Rational consumers of information who are open and persuadable if given a well-arranged argument.
The thought process is that the 3-4 million people who tune in to Fox’s prime time lineup every night constitute one of the largest audiences on cable television and in a world of elections with razor-thin margins, they can’t just be written off.
But this is a nonsensical argument. Fox News’ super-viewers are not like most of the rest absorbing the media. They are not just casual consumers of the news. They are full-fledged diehard believers in the Fox News Cinematic Universe.
Their belief in Fox’s falsehoods are more akin to religious doctrine than just news consumption.
In that context, believing that a Democrat can appeal to Fox viewers is as realistic as believing that a single presentation in a tiny portion of a religious service could convince a Christian to become a Muslim, or vice versa, in the blink of an eye.
A thirty second appearance on Fox by transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg, no matter how well-prepared he is, will not shake the paradigm of Fox fans in any way. If anything, that appearance will further reinforce the notion that Fox is the real news - because “even Democrats have to go on.”
The network’s superfans love the lies and the lies explain a complicated world to the viewers through the lens of “us” versus “them.” These are not just news or propaganda broadcasts, but religious instruction packaged in flashy graphics and manipulated video.
The time and resources necessary to maybe deprogram one or two of the people indoctrinated into this cult are enormous. It certainly dwarfs the resources that would be required to motivate the considerably larger universe of people who are not in the church of Fox News.
Resources are finite. Fox News viewers are so far gone it is not worth it. It’s past time to stop tilting at this particular windmill and leave the cultists to their own fate. If they find a way out on their own, that’s great, but most of them simply cannot ever be helped.
It may sound cold and pessimistic, but it is reality. More reality than you’ll ever find on Fox News.