A guide for left-wingers to watching Fox News
By Lawrence Solomon
December 14, 2018
Beware: You may find yourself learning something, or even straying right
Fox News’s Sean Hannity takes a little getting used to, so watch with care.
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Ever wonder why Donald Trump hasn’t been impeached yet, given the mountains of evidence against him and all those convictions of his cronies? Maybe you were even surprised that he was elected president. And that the stock market immediately soared. And that manufacturing has come back to the United States. And that U.S. economic growth is again at levels many thought were a thing of the past.
Maybe you were also surprised that the Brits voted to exit the European Union, and that the citizens in other European countries are moving in the same direction.
And that the Paris climate accord has led to the discord torching Paris streets. Maybe you’re wondering why peak oil never happened, and why you stopped hearing about all those Pacific Islands that were going to be submerged by global warming.
If so, don’t blame yourself. Blame the mainstream media, which has misled you and so often left you clueless. But there is a way to recover your understanding of the world, so that current events don’t keep throwing you for a loop. The cure isn’t for everyone. But those who want to be in the know can take the medicine, strictly following instructions.
The medicine is called Fox News. If you are a progressive for whom a low dose is required, you must never watch Sean Hannity, certainly not in the first year, before you’ve developed antibodies. He’ll make your head explode.
Also on the DO-NOT-WATCH list are Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham. If you do happen to stumble on one of them, the only antidote is switching to Shepard Smith’s 3 p.m. ET show at the earliest opportunity (maybe even TiVo him for use in an emergency). Shep will restore your equilibrium with some of TV’s finest Trump bashing, familiarly in the guise of presenting impartial news, just like they do on other networks.
For a fair and balanced Fox experience, start with Martha MacCallum’s 7 p.m. weekday show, The Story. You’ll be hard-pressed to notice any scent of ideology in her thoughtful questioning of brilliant guests, including many of the best legal minds in Democratic circles, such as Harvard University’s Alan Dershowitz and George Washington University’s Jonathan Turley.
MacCallum has no rough edges, she’s thoroughly likable, thoroughly prepared and fearless in asking disarming questions that elicit unscripted answers from her guests.
Super-smart and super-nice also describe Shannon Bream in her 11 p.m. show, Fox News @ Night, a mix of hard news and interviews, typically also of top legal minds of both parties. Bream, a lawyer and formerly Fox’s Supreme Court correspondent, is so unbelievably nice, in fact, that her guests and colleagues spontaneously gush, live on-air, at her unbelievable niceness.
Other shows that will impress left-leaners include Fox News Sunday, hosted by Chris Wallace, a tough interviewer whose pro-Democrat biases rarely show, and Bret Baier weekday 6 p.m. Special Report, which provides straight news and balanced analysis.
Unlike hosts on other networks, who can be counted on to downplay or altogether ignore news embarrassing to Democrats, the poker-faced Baier provides no such cover for wrong-doers of either party.
Fox News provides opposing perspectives, often articulated by their most accomplished advocates in head-to-head debates, letting you judge for yourself whose arguments best stand up to scrutiny.
Satisfyingly, these exchanges, and other interviews involving politics and law, also provide the civics lessons that schools today neglect. Crystal-clear explanations from the likes of passionate civil libertarians like Dershowitz are a treat to imbibe.
With so much of the news these days involving complex process issues — the Mueller investigation into Trump’s suspected Russian collusion, the Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearing, the rights of migrants to obtain refugee status — the need to understand the rule of law becomes paramount. By meeting that need, Fox makes its viewers smarter.
Fox attracts viewers across the ideological spectrum, with the proportion of Democrat and Independent viewers outnumbering its Republican viewers
Because all viewers — Democrats, Republicans and Independents — feel empowered when they “get it,” Fox attracts viewers across the ideological spectrum, with the proportion of Democrat and Independent viewers outnumbering its Republican viewers and the Fox audience sometimes exceeding that of CNN and MSNBC combined.
There’s a danger for those on the left who watch Fox, however: They may not stay on the left. According to a study last year in the American Economic Review, watching Fox News as little as an additional 2.5 minutes a week will make someone likelier to vote Republican, while watching MSNBC for that amount of time has negligible effect.
The study further found that Fox News has been responsible for an increasing share of the Republican vote: “Our estimates imply increasing effects of FNC (Fox News Channel) on the Republican vote share in presidential elections over time, from 0.46 points in 2000 to 6.34 points in 2008.”
That suggests that without Fox News, John Kerry would have obtained more votes than George W. Bush in the 2004 election, and Barack Obama’s 53-46 per cent win over John McCain in 2008 would have looked more like a 60-40 landslide.
The existential question for those who lean left then becomes, “Is becoming knowledgeable on the issues worth the risk that I will lose my identification as a progressive?” In this era of identity politics, the answer won’t be obvious.
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