Jeff Schweitzer wants to help us “rediscover our inherent good, and act accordingly, individually and collectively,” according to a summary of his book, “A New Moral Code.” Unfortunately, that’s going to be difficult in this “new age of McCarthyism” in which the “Fox hydra” is “tearing apart the fabric of our society with vitriol and venom, lies and half-truths.”
Yes, a news network that doesn’t report as he thinks it should is ruining our nation, and presumably interfering with important consideration of our “own biological destiny” that another of Schweitzer’s encourages.
In a recent post on the HuffPost blog, Schweitzer, a scientist turned self-help hack (and, unquestionably, partisan hack) who used to work for Bill Clinton and Al Gore calmly informed readers that "Wild claims, oddball conspiracy theories, hateful rhetoric, racism cloaked in thinly veiled code, and pure fabrication are daily fare on Fox. If the truth is inconvenient, Fox simply manufactures a new reality: faith-based reporting in which facts are optional."
It’s uncertain why any of this should bother Schweitzer since, as co-author of “Beyond Cosmic Dice: Moral Life in a Random World,” he tells readers we all have the “power to create our own meaning.” In fact, in that book, “[t]he authors consider and reject a traditional, often religious, view that life’s meaning and purpose is controlled and manipulated by some unseen force.” Except maybe Roger Ailes or Rupert Murdoch?
In his post, Schweitzer goes on to make some other comments sure to raise an eyebrow. Schweitzer wrote, "Fox repeatedly cries that Obama has raised or will raise taxes. This is the fiscal equivalent of the Red Scare ... But the claim is blatantly false."
But even Politifact cited different taxes Obama raised, such as a tax for those who do not want mandatory health insurance. Obama himself said he wouldn’t raise taxes on those under $250,000. Which would be true, if those making less than $250,000 don’t smoke or go tanning, for starters.
“Yet in spite of [Obama’s] tax cuts only 12 percent of Americans know that Obama cut their taxes. Worse, 24 percent of those surveyed believed their taxes had gone up. Remember, they went down by $116 billion. Fox has managed to not only obscure the truth, but actually invert it.”
Fox News does take first in 24-hour news network ratings, but there are six other major TV news outlets (seven if you count PBS). Could FNC’s misinformation be influencing up to 88 percent of Americans? A look at the ratings from a single, discreet event – President Obama’s most recent State of the Union speech in January shows that an impressive 3.8 million viewers tuned in to the speech on FNC. But 20.6 million watched the speech on ABC, CBS and NBC. Another 5.4 million saw it on MSNBC and CNN. Less than 1 in 7 Americans turned to FNC for the speech.
And on the specific issue of taxes, an actual study using actual scientific methodology said most of the televised propaganda has cut the other way, with the broadcast networks spinning a fairy-tale of Obama the tax-cutter.
But Al Gore’s old science adviser isn’t really interested in science. Schweitzer preferred to present a tendentious list of Fox’s supposed omissions, including all Obama’s wonderful achievements, like allowing “children to remain covered by their parents’ insurance until the age of 26.” (Gosh, who could argue against making taxpayers pick up the tab for helpless 26-year-old children?) And of course it includes many of President Bush’s myriad crimes, (“let loose gun-toting weekend warriors in our national forests”! “Gutted the Endangered Species Act”!)
According to Schweitzer, there aren’t differing interpretations or opinions, just liberal fact and conservative fiction. And conservatives must be made to pay for their fiction. “I hope that I live long enough to see Fox's demise just as McCarthy was eventually discredited, ultimately brought down by the terrible weight of a truth different from the fantasy he created.”
Then maybe Schweitzer can rediscover his inherent good.