I don’t have Cable TV. I don’t have Satellite TV. I don’t have any regrets about that.
Because of the facts that I just placed into evidence, I’m certainly not the leading authority when it comes to the Fox News Channel. We do have Sirius/XM Radio in one of our vehicles, and I’ve listened to Fox News before while driving (although my children and I much prefer “Forties on Four” and “The Message”). I sometimes visit family who have Cable TV or Satellite TV, and I’ve consumed some Fox News programs there. We once had Dish Network TV, and the Fox News Channel was a part of our package. Indeed, it was the appearance of Ashley Madison advertisements during an FNC program that hastened the end of my business relationship with Dish Network. I’m thus not entirely ignorant of the Fox News Channel and its lineup, but many of you probably have much more extensive, much more current knowledge of FNC than do I.
The Fox News Channel has become a target for the scorn and ridicule of many of my friends. I see it on Twitter. I see it on Facebook. Even tonight, as people are reacting to the suspension of NBC News Anchor Brian Williams, I see a lot of people using the occasion to criticize Fox News instead of NBC and Brian Williams.
I’ve got to say: I just don’t get it.
Is it because the Fox News Channel features mostly people on the right wing of politics offering their opinions on opinion-based programs? For which network is that NOT true, whether for the right or the left? Editorialists, opinion columnists, talk show hosts, and advocacy guests find their way into print media as well as every corner of the broadcast spectrum, from what I can tell. A news department’s credibility doesn’t rise or fall on what the opinion shows say.
Is it because the Fox News Channel blurs the lines between news journalism and opinion journalism? I’m not sure that’s a valid charge. I can tell the difference between Chris Wallace and Sean Hannity, and I see no reason to believe that Fox News viewers are any less astute to the distinction than are the devotees of Jon Stewart or Steven Colbert.
Is it because Fox News viewers are so strident that we’re sick to death of them? If that’s the case, then why aren’t my friends also tweeting out daily derision for the Huffington Post or Slate?
I think one of two reasons is most likely. First, the Fox News Channel is not generally associated with cultural elites. Few things are more hoi polloi than FNC (and Roger Ailes is so wealthy because there are a lot of polloi out there). To the degree that we are elitists (or wish that we were), we are likely to want to flash our “intelligent” or “reasonable” credentials by subjecting the Fox News Channel to a little public flagellation.
Second, the Fox News Channel represents just the kind of Conservative Republicanism that engenders feelings of betrayal among many Southern Baptists. The FNC agenda is not a values-based agenda. Apart from Mike Huckabee, the network’s lineup seems mostly to represent a fiscal conservatism that is willing to say what social conservatives want to hear in order to keep the coalition moving toward lower taxes and decreased federal spending.
Even if that perspective about the Fox News Channel is accurate (and Ashley Madison, Shepard Smith’s boyfriend, and I think it probably is) does that make FNC any worse of a media company than MSNBC or the majors? Not in any way that is obvious to me. Why do so few of us find a middle ground between “Fox News = Truth” and “Faux News”?
We’ve read a lot of warnings in past years about letting our political views displace the gospel in our lives. We’ve heard that letting our churches become the local field office of the GOP drives people away from what really should be our message of spiritual deliverance. OK. Point well taken.
But Fox News Channel had nearly 1.9 million viewers this week. The station is routinely the highest rated channel on Cable TV. Is it just a little possible that constantly bashing the Fox News Channel might ALSO be an instance of letting our political views displace the gospel and drive people away?
I’ll just report that, and then I’ll let you decide.