Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified before Congress regarding the attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi. Initially reported as the outcome of a spontaneous demonstration and later revealed to be a terrorist plot, the attacks have been a black eye for the State Department and a cause celebré for Republicans. Romney made much of them in the late days of the presidential campaign, and the Tea Party caucus has seized on them as evidence that the Obama administration is soft on terror. If you don’t think Benghazi has become a partisan issue, I advice you to consider Fox News’s coverage of Clinton’s testimony, captured in the screen shot above.
This summary of testimony by the Secretary of State—conveniently referred to as “Hillary,” so there is no danger that the reader might mistake her for a person who should be taken seriously—contains no information whatsoever. Even still it is inaccurate: the Secretary concluded her testimony when she was dismissed by the hearing committee, not when she felt like it, as “later!” implies. I have not read the full transcript, but it is my understanding that “hey guys” was also not included in her remarks.
It is surprising that any news organization would take this approach to reporting on the Secretary of State. It is saddening to think that the organization that did so is the most-watched cable news network in America. As much as liberals dismiss it, Fox News is not some incendiary website warning an audience of wackos about gold and measles vaccination. It is the primary news source for a plurality of Americans, and in that context it is extremely troubling.
A news viewer without access to other sources could get no information from the graphic above. Yet he will have no problem deciphering the message: Hillary Clinton is a stupid person whose actual words are not worth knowing. The combination of no facts and a clear thesis makes this particular nugget of “news” pure propaganda. It seeks to form an opinion in the viewer without burdening him with information.
I reiterate: we are talking about the most successful news outlet in the country. More Americans get their news from Fox than from any other source. If the government disseminated such news, it would be decried as an obvious instrument of propaganda. Yet because it is a privately-owned endeavor executed for money rather than power, Fox News is somehow justified in its massive effort to stupefy and control the public.
I don’t know what to do about a problem like Fox News. In moments like this, it is tempting to overstate how pernicious and biased it is. For many hours of the day, Fox is a normal reporting medium, indistinguishable from other cable news networks. At moments like the one pictured above, however, it crosses a line. It assumes its viewers do not want news so much as instructions, and it is right far too often. Fox News is an evil entity that makes people dumber, and it is winning.