Americans who watch “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” are more up-to-date and correctly knowledgeable of current events, according to a recent PublicMind Poll™ conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson Univ.
Yes, it’s certainly strange that a 30-minute entertainment show on the appropriately-named Comedy Central television network is more informative than actual news media.
But a focal point of the study isn’t odd. It should be, true, but … we’re all well used to the fact that the Fox News network tells its viewers nothing but crap.
And sadly enough, it seems to be working. Fox viewers knew significantly less about current news on the national and global levels than those who rely on news from all other media – national and local television, national and local newspapers, and even political blogs.
Not only do Fox fans know squat about current events, but they even know less than folks who don’t watch or read any news at all – 18 percent less than those media-hermits, in fact.
Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson and an analyst for the PublicMind Poll, concluded, “ the results show us that there is something about watching Fox News that leads people to do worse on these questions than those who don’t watch any news at all.”
But this has been par for the course for quite a while now. For example:
An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found 75 percent of Fox News viewers to believe the then-proposed healthcare plan consisted of “death panels.”
They remain misinformed to this day about the healthcare act, according to a Kaiser Foundation poll.
A World Public Opinion poll from last year learned Fox News viewers were apt to believe their income tax rates recently increased, TARP was opposed by Republicans, and Obama was born outside the U.S.
They don’t believe in global warming, a study done by Stanford Univ. found.
A study done at Ohio State University found Fox News’ report on rebuilding a New York City mosque to be rumor-laden, and with its viewers believing its construction was funded by terrorists who had declared intent for the mosque to be an anniversary celebration of 9/11.
And as the Ohio State researchers concluded: “(T)he results are very clear: the more people use Fox News, the more rumors they have heard and the more they believe.”
This isn’t necessarily a reflection on the intellect of those viewers (well, not necessarily, at least), but clearly indicates their gullibility.
Fox News reports complete garbage, such its recent claim “we caught Bin Laden by waterboarding”; telling the public that the pepper spray infamously used against peaceful protesters at UC-Berkeley was just “a food product”; that an Obama budget proposal was “four times bigger than Bush’s costliest plan”; and the list goes on.
This compilation by Media Matters might be a couple of years old, but it’s still very indicative of what we get from the Fox network.
And there seems to be little anyone can do about it. Fox already testified in federal court that it had every right to lie in its broadcasts, and because there’s no law against knowingly distorting news with deliberate intent to misinform, it argued. Fox News won the lawsuit.
Yesterday’s attack on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (Ariz – D) rings the same anarchist toll as many other recent circumstances of violent demonstration.
It's bad enough that many of these attacks on human life only stem from protest against health care. What's worse, though, is that they seem promoted by politicians, political groups and politically-influenced media - all of which are related to current mantras of the Republican Party, if not the GOP all by itself.
On January 8, Giffords was critically wounded by a gunshot to the head while at a public forum in Tucson. Six persons including a 9-year-old girl, one of Giffords’ staff and a federal judge were killed. Twelve others were also injured, including two other Giffords’ staff members.
Anti-immigration sentiments may also be behind the slaying of John M. Roll, the federal judge shot at the incident. Roll received many violent threats against him and his family in February 2009 after allowing a lawsuit filed by illegal immigrants to move forward in court.
Rep. Louise Slaughter received recorded message at her campaign office that threatened assassination and murder of “the children of lawmakers who voted yes” for the health care bill.
In Virginia, the gas line at the home of Rep. Tom Perriello’s brother was severed, seemingly to create fire or explosion. A Tea Party activist posted the specific residential address, mistaking it to be that of the representative, along with addresses of others who voted for the bill, on a blog advising readers to “drop by” their homes to express discontent.
The same blog site acknowledges it made encouragement to “break the windows of local democrat party headquarters(.)”
Marchers carried signs depicting images of a Browning firearm that read “Warning: If Brown can’t stop it, a Browning can,” referring to Sen. Scott Brown, who in 2006 voted for the public insurance program now used in Massachusetts while a state senator. Brown, a Republican, voted against the national healthcare plan the day after this demonstration.
Even new House Majority Leader John Boehner predicted that Democrats voting for the health care bill would be at risk, stating Rep. Steve Driehaus, a Democrat from his same state of Ohio, "may be a dead man" for supporting the Affordable Care Act.
And Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn) issued statements that included violent terms as far back as early 2009, albeit on a different issue. “I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax," she said on radio interview.
One Republican official even praised violent actions of terrorist inclination. After a small-craft airplane was purposefully flown into an IRS building in Texas in February 2010, killing two, Rep. Steven King (Iowa) acknowledged anti-tax sentiments promoted by the far-right may have encouraged the incident, but attributed that act of terrorism to be a positive keystone: “when the day comes when that is over and we abolish the IRS, it’s going to be a happy day for America.”
Violence, assassination and armed rebellion were common themes in the 2010 campaigns of Republican organizations and congressional candidates, as well.
Such themes were at times only alluded to, such as in a combination gun rally and campaign promotion for Rep. Giffords’ most recent election opponent. "Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly," read the Republican candidate’s website.
Violent, if not anarchist, statements were directly made at other times, though. Stephen Broden, a Republican candidate for congress from the Dallas area, promoted government overthrow in his campaign, adding that “the option (of violence) is on the table.”
Tea Party/Republican candidate Sharron Angle twice referred to “Second Amendment remedies,” implying use of gun violence, to contest congress in general and her opponent, incumbent Sen. Harry Reid (Nevada), in particular. In the latter incident, Angle implied she was carrying a concealed weapon at that moment.
Even direct incidents of violence occurred at campaign events. Lauren Valle, a MoveOn member demonstrating at an appearance by now-elected Rand Paul, was knocked down and stomped on by Paul's campaign supporters.
Website operator Tony Hopfinger attempted to interview Joe Miller, candidate for U.S. Senate from Alaska, but was held and handcuffed by Miller's campaign staff, who took away Hopfinger's video recorder. Part of the video was later found to be erased, Hopfinger stated.
Both Miller and Paul ran as Republicans with Tea Party support; Paul won the race in Kentucky, while Miller's campaign was unsuccessful.
Culiminating awareness of the potential impact of these terrorist-like actions is none other than former Alaska Governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who issued statements and even images that are now connotated with yesterday's mass-shooting and murders.
On March 23, just two days after the healthcare act passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, Palin issued a rallying statement to her supporters. "Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!" she tweeted.
That twitter message directed recipients to Palin's facebook page, which displayed a map (now removed) decorated with rifle cross-hairs to indicate the regions of particular Democratic congresspersons who voted for the Affordable Care Act, including Giffords' district. The representatives were also listed by name below the map.
Conservative media appear to have influence on these incidents, as well, and not just through websites, such as the previously-noted blog that acknowledges encouraging vandalism against the Democratic Party, and which is also credited with encouraging an attempted assasination.
National media - namely FOX News, already known to blatantly provide slanted and false information to its viewers - is recorded to have encouraged public disorder, violence and terrorist-like acts, too. FOX commentators, in particular Glenn Beck, are often directly attributed to be impetus to baseless public demonstration, and even murder.
For example, an August 2009 forum on healthcare in Tampa, Fla. was interrupted by hundreds of angry protestors, many of whom stated they were inspired to demonstrate by a recent Glenn Beck broadcast. The loud and interrupting protests led to a fist-fight in the crowd.
Williams credits Glenn Beck as inspiration for his attempted terrorist action against the organization, a progressive non-profit firm that Beck claimed was destroying capitalism. "It was the things that (Beck) did, it was the things he exposed that blew my mind," said Williams in a later interview.
Beck had mentioned Tide Foundation 29 times on his FOX television broadcast over an 18-month period prior to the incident, and twice in the week immediately prior. Researchers found no other media to have reported any type of information on Tides in that same time period, and that the organization had only been mentioned two other times and only by one other FOX News host.
FOX commentator Bernard Goldberg was listed as inspiration of the 2008 shooting at a Tennessee church, and directly by the shooter. In a letter intended to serve as a suicide note, shooter Jim David Adkisson wrote "Who I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the Senate and House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book" (100 People Who Are Screwing Up America). Adkisson, who had also recently read books by FOX's Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, said he settled on that Unitarian church, which he said was too liberal, because it was too difficult to get to the elected officials.
Richard Poplawski said that frustration with the possibility that Pres. Obama would take away his guns - a false story repeatedly run by FOX News, which Poplawski frequently watched - was the inspiration in his murder of three police officers at his Pittsburgh apartment in April 2009.
Gregory Giusti was arrested in April 2010 for threatening the life of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, an idea his mother said Giusti received directly from FOX News. Glenn Beck had once suggested poisoning Pelosi in a 2009 broadcast.
The common factor in each of these circumstances is its antagonist: far-right wing sectors threatening violence, encouraging violence, approving of violence, and engaging in violent actions.
The goal is the same, too: to protect personal political interests through restraint of public freedom, amounting to anti-equality, anti-immigrant, anti-public good, anti-progress ... and anti-American, to boot. And all under the guise of a political sector that is revealing itself to be more and more anti-American every day.
Just over the last couple of years, last year especially and reaching a crest only yesterday, the far-right side of so-called conservatism has displayed itself as fascist. Corporatist. And terrorist. Making demands that take away personal freedom, and threatening - even taking - personal lives when those demands aren't met. And taking away everything this country was supposed to be founded upon at its initial creation.
The Republican Party is a dying entity in the United States, dropping to only 22 percent of Americans who identify themselves as GOP and leaving it in third place behind Democrats and independents. What its far-right sector has been attempting to do over the last two years is keep a tight rein on government despite that minority presence.
And it has done so by instilling fear and breeding anger in the same middle-class sector of the population the Republicans have abused. The media attention these fascist actions receive certainly helps its goals, especially when one news corporation in particular directly promotes and supports such fascism through purveyance of false information.
The GOP now has its public dirty work done by the Tea Party side. (When asked after the shooting if his daughter, Rep. Giffords, had any enemies, Spencer Gifford sobbed "Yeah. The whole Tea Party.")
It uses national media to reach unstable individuals and encourage them to conduct the violence that the Tea Party is too well-known to do itself directly.
And this equates terrorist activity by the same group that claims need to restrict American freedoms to protect us from terrorism.
But this recent terrorist-style mass murder must definitely set a limit. Turn off FOX News. Turn away the uneducated psychopaths who watch and believe FOX News. And vote out the Republicans who are responsible for all this garbage.