Fox Isn’t Covering January 6th:
It’s Not About You
By Reed Galen
In a not-at-all surprising move, Fox News announced that it would not be covering this week’s primetime hearing of the Select Committee on January 6th. That Fox is a nest of insidious race-baiters, would-be Goebbels and authoritarian shills is a given. Why they’re refusing to cover the hearings has nothing to do with trolling the likes of pro-democracy groups, the media and Democrats and everything to do with fear.
The MAGA media bubble starts with Fox, but works in concert with Alex Jones and Infowars, poseurs like Dan Bongino, and quack stalwarts like Mark Levin. From there, Facebook, Telegram, WhatsApp, 4Chan and 8Chan pump their noxious brew into American political discourse.
Money, sure. Power, of course. But necessity keeps them dosing American conservatives 24/7. Donald Trump, Tucker Carlson and the rest of the MAGA menagerie must keep their supporters and their zealots within a reality distortion field. It’s textbook authoritarian propaganda. Just as Vladimir Putin controls what little media Russians see, for fear of them learning the truth, Fox must continually pump Great Replacement Theory into their viewers’ veins. And they know it works, because the cohort most quickly radicalizing are middle-aged white men in Biden districts that have seen an increase in communities of color.
They will show videos of shootings in Philadelphia and Chicago as a reminder that the ‘real’ gun violence occurs among ‘those’ people, not in schools and grocery stores. Tucker and Co. will use the fear they incite to gently remind their viewers that, violence, to protect yourself and your way of life, is not a bad thing.
Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham will discuss transgender sports, Don’t Say Gay and abortion, specifically because they know that Democrats, rather than staying disciplined on January 6th (or any other winning campaign message,) will follow them down the rabbit hole. As my co-founder Rick Wilson famously said, “Culture wars are where Democrats go to die.
That they’ll double and triple down on these issues is evidence of how scared their viewers may be infected by the reality of ABC, CBS and NBC’s live broadcast coverage of the hearings. What Fox and the rest know is that their drug, while potent, wears off quickly. Two political scientists did a study in September 2020 where they paid Fox News viewers to watch CNN for a month. Did an overwhelming number of self-identified Pro-Trump Republicans change their minds? No, but somewhere between 10-13% did on a variety of issues.
Carlson and his ilk know this attrition is possible, therefore they cannot allow it. If the scales begin to fall from the eyes of just 5-7% of Fox watchers, the downstream political and electoral effects could be profound. Agent Smith must reinsert Neo into the Matrix or at least make sure he can’t spread his message of freedom.
While the networks won’t see Super Bowl-like ratings on Thursday night, a small but significant slice of the American population, Malcolm Gladwell would call them Connectors, will tune in to see what all the fuss is about. It will be a spectacle, and Americans love spectacle.
If news reports are correct, the January 6th Committee will offer them a modern, multi-media feast of sedition for the senses. They’ll loudly call out those involved. They’ll clearly connect the dots from Trump’s unwillingness to concede defeat to those true-believers, cynics and supplicants who wanted to help him find a way to stay in the White House. These efforts will have an effect.
Because Americans, for all our faults, do see ourselves and our country as exceptional, and the images and events of January 6th look more like something from a third-world coup than the United States. Despite the dark clouds swirling around our democracy, there are more Americans, millions, perhaps tens of millions more, who believe that what we have, though imperfect, is better than any alternative that Trump, Lauren Boebert, Jim Jordan, Elise Stefanik, or Glenn Beck could come up with.
We will see and hear new information this week. Some of it will break our hearts. A lot of it will anger us. But we must take that righteous indignation and channel it into ensuring that this fall, pro-democracy candidates win, and Republicans, big-lie believers and anti-democrats are defeated. It is easy to be cynical. Don’t let it happen. There is value in the fight. We won’t win everywhere, and we don’t have to. But where we win, gives us hope for the future.