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What Is Fox News Really Telling You?

Bella Nadler, News Editor

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Fox News: the media monster terrorizing the American mind. This powerful outlet has been the most-watched cable news network in the country for 12 straight years, regularly pulling in more viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined. Many Americans who search for a more accurate news report are left wondering: why does Fox News have such an effect on its audience? What tactics do they use to manipulate their viewers? Why are so many blind to the lies Fox broadcasts? As an educated, curious, and politically active citizen, I decided to find out.

For the past month, I took it upon myself to see what effect solely listening, watching, and reading Fox News would have on my perception of current events. As an aggressively liberal feminist, this was not an easy process, but, after only a month of this, even I became less resistant to the standardized media.

While I hate the current social climate and the political atmosphere, I like being informed. I like knowing what’s going on in the world, not just from one source or one side, but from a variety of perspectives. This way, I can make an informed decision regarding political positions and their pros and cons. Unlike my usual habits, for this experiment I was only able to receive my news from Fox in order to isolate myself from the opposing side.

Fox News has had years of practice in manipulating its audience. From spreading political slander to blatant lies, Fox has a history of being incredibly biased. But it isn’t just Fox. “Mainstream media,” as Fox likes to call it, is not entirely innocent. All news is slanted, but we are often blind to the bias because we read news from sources with which we align ourselves. The real challenge is knowing when one is being manipulated.

During this experience, I found that Fox attempts to capture the audience through maintenance of their distrust in other news sources. Whenever they can, Fox uses the phrases “liberal media” and “mainstream media” to perpetually reinforce the false dichotomy that isolates Fox viewers from reality. The most important component of maintaining a world built on propaganda is creating an enemy who is excluded from an in-group. Bouncing off of Nixon’s concept of traditional Americans, Fox has cultivated an image of its in-group (for its in-group) as people who love God, their families, and their country. Once the parameters of the in-group have been established, the process of “othering” begins. By exploiting pre-existing beliefs, images, and negative stereotypes, an out-group is formed. In the case of Fox, this out-group, again, aligns with Nixon’s definition of the “liberal elite:” people who challenge the oppression of the established power structure.

Another manipulation tactic I noticed is the response taken to wide-scale events. It seemed as though Fox wouldn’t report on something until they had a firm grasp on how to mold the story to their benefit. For example, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting was immediately reported on, but soon after a plethora of articles defending the 2nd amendment came about, attacking liberals for politicizing the event and supplying proposals which almost entirely supported having more guns. Fox used the shooting as a way to argue for more guns and to encourage their audience that arming oneself is the only way to be truly defended. Instead, Fox should have educated its viewers – the true purpose of a media outlet.

In my month of religiously reading Fox News, I noticed that they are the masters of using quotes to support their bias. Particularly in slamming liberals and Democrats, they use specific quotes (or quote-fragments, often out-of-context) to prove their points. It’s hard to notice when one is being manipulated, and manipulation is all around us: capricious aspects of an article such as diction can have an impact on one’s perception of a topic, statistics can be misleading, and polls and surveys can never truly represent the entirety of a population. In truth, the world is full of manipulation and twists on the truth. Fox News is no different.

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What Is Fox News Really Telling You?