Thomas Friedman struck a chord with the RNC when he wrote this article about the dangerous rhetoric used against Obama, the proponents of which are obviously associated with 24 hour news cycles, but now seem to be seeping into the floor of the house itself. Friedman argues that the bipolar climate is similar to that which existed in Israel on the eve of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination.
On the forefront from the media-side of the attack is no doubt Fox News. If you haven't seen Glenn Beck's ridiculous ranting, you are probably just waking up from a coma or just very very lucky. In this maniacal monologue, Beck essentially is telling his viewers to "drive a steak" through the bloodsucking government.
"What kind of madness is it that someone would create a poll on Facebook asking respondents, “Should Obama be killed?” The choices were: “No, Maybe, Yes, and Yes if he cuts my health care.” The Secret Service is now investigating. I hope they put the jerk in jail and throw away the key because this is exactly what was being done to Rabin." Friedman writes.
And a valid point. After 8 years of George Bush, it is not only appropriate to distrust government, but mix that cultural sensitivity with a resurgence of old-school McCarthyism and latent racism and you have a recipe for the kind of anger that makes people protest health care reform wearing loaded guns.
Many will argue that these are the "fringe." Moderates, fiscal conservatives and intellectuals may disagree with the government on issues from time to time, but certainly do not wish death upon our leaders. But what we are seeing here is a fringe that is becoming more and more pinned to their firearms listening to every word Glenn Beck tells them.
Let me say first and foremost that I am a strong supporter of the first Amendment. It is important to protect everyone's right to free speech, no matter how utterly ignorant it can be. Our constitutional freedoms are not made up by the good guys, it was the assholes that secured our rights (re. Brandenburg V. Ohio.)
I do not think Fox News should be censored. Simply sued by its customers for providing false information. To Say "Fox News" is a misnomer is giving it too much credit, its false advertising in the most dangerous degree. And people who only watch Fox News are getting a slate of crap sold to them as news, creating a self-contained informational divide. If you are watching a news station that tells you everything you want to hear to validate your ignorance, why would you choose to pop that perfect little bubble?
Lets say Fox created a channel called Fox Health, the mission statement being to provide Healthy tips to Americans. 50% of the time they may say the right thing (get your cardio, weight training, walk instead of drive etc.) The other 50% of the time they fill the airspace with pundits who are "health experts" who claim you need to "Eat your McDonalds, because you need protein!" Or "Don't trust your Doctor, all cholesterol is 'good' cholesterol." Hell, lets even give it a corporatist throwback: "Smoking was never really that bad for you, it was just the whiny liberals who made up those lies, just like global warming!"
This channel would be breaking so many ethical rules, and also may eventually be blamed for the deaths of the 15% of Americans who only get their information from Fox Health. Sadly, this isn't far from what Fox News is doing. It is irresponsible, unethical, and essentially false advertising. Journalism with a bias is almost unavoidable, but this bias shows a deliberate attempt to manipulate the truth for its own political agenda. It cannot rightfully be called a news channel*.
for more on intentionally distorted truths, go to http://mediamatters.org/topic/onlyonfox/
*Other cable news networks also need to up their game responsibility wise, irresponsibility is symptomatic to news-for-a-profit structures. But when it comes to intentionally distorting facts for viewership, FOX far outweighs its competition.