And that, in a roundabout and by now fascinating (anthropologically speaking) way, is what’s truly remarkable and, ultimately, insidious about Fox News: not that they’re a news organization with a right-wing bent, but that they’ve managed to convince their viewers that they’re the only ones reporting things honestly, the only place that you can get the real story. That “fair and balanced” shit isn’t just trolling (as comforting and ultimately harmless as that would be).
They’ve built a business model around the specter of the “liberal media” so successfully that we now just have multiple versions of the news, with no single trusted source. So when a story — like this one —paints a less-than-flattering portrait of trigger-happy white people, other trigger-happy white people can just find the version of the news that doesn’t make them uncomfortable. And make no mistake, this is about coddling Fox’s white viewers; otherwise, someone, somewhere within the network might’ve pointed out the slight discrepancy between their commentators’ unquestioning trust of the Ferguson police and their coverage of the Cliven Bundy clusterfuck.
But perhaps the most damaging byproduct of Fox News’ ubiquity is that they’ve managed to shift the goal posts for even the “liberal media” that they sneer at, forcing outlets that don’t conform to their worldview to at least tip to it. (That’s about the only plausible explanation for the New York Times’ already notorious “no angel” piece.) Never mind that stealing cigars, to say nothing of living in a community with “rough patches,” dabbling in drugs and alcohol, and “tak[ing] to rapping,” are not death penalty offenses.
The more Fox talks, and the louder they talk, the more they overpower the conversation we should be having: about an unarmed young black man, shot dead by an officer who was sworn to protect him, and left to lay in the street for four-plus hours. Instead, we’ll talk about race baiters, and irresponsible reporters, and New Black Panthers, and Officer Wilson, poor Officer Wilson, how can I send some money to poor Officer Wilson? “We will not hide, we will no longer live in fear,” an unidentified white woman told The Guardian at a pro-Wilson protest over the weekend. Well, at least we’re all clear on who the true victims are here.