It almost feels like a waste of copy space to take on Fox News. The network is so utterly shameless and resistant to criticism from those it deems its political enemies that complaining about the whole enterprise feels like shouting at a wall. Fox News commits so many sins against ethical journalism and basic human decency with such enervating regularity that it's impossible to even know where to start in calling it all out. What's more, the specific thing that makes any attack on the network an exercise in frustrating futility is Fox News's complete lack of concern one way or the other what you think of it. The network either doesn't see its own awfulness or it implicitly recognizes its many bad acts and just doesn't care because, well -- fuck you, we're Fox News. If there's one thing Fox News rarely does, it's admit it's wrong -- especially to its critics.
That said, over the past 24-hours Fox News has had to, in a roundabout way, admit it's wrong -- or at the very least subtly acknowledge that something is very wrong under its roof. It started when the official Fox News website republished an entirely unremarkable AP news story about President Obama's older daughter, Malia Obama, being accepted to Harvard. The White House made the announcement on Sunday and the AP item detailed the fact that Malia had visited several colleges before deciding on Harvard, where her father got his degree, and that she'd be taking a year off before starting her classes there, as many students have done throughout the years. Pretty innocuous stuff, right? Nothing the least bit political or controversial, certainly not the kind of thing that could justify a show of hostile partisan rancor. Except that it did. Of course it did. But really, "hostile partisan rancor" is a very kind way of describing the reaction the story received at Fox News's website. "Outright, vicious racism" would be a better descriptor.
Addicting Info collected some of the best/worst responses from the comment section under the story. Suffice to say, the kindest thing Fox News's conservative insane asylum had to say about Malia Obama -- remember, a 17-year-old girl and the daughter of the President of the United States -- was that she was a "parasite" and her entry into Harvard was the result of Affirmative Action. (As if any of those commenting were specifically getting the shaft from Harvard because the school had chosen to accept Malia.) That sentiment, however, was overshadowed by, to put it bluntly, all the commenters who called her a "nigger." There were reportedly several of those. Likewise, there was the person who said that Malia should get "cancer or aids or one of those colored diseases"; the one who said she was "probably staying out a year so she can help her parents carry out the furniture and dinnerware when they leave the White House"; the guy who said that the "little ape should go to college in Africa." And then there were the shrieks about Malia Obama being a Muslim. So, so many of those, apparently.
The racist venom was so undeniably horrific and offensive that Fox News actually had to take action. The network's website closed the comment section under the story and wiped it clean. But here's the thing: It shouldn't be able to do that. It shouldn't be able to simply erase all that hatred and pretend like it didn't happen, because the fact that it took the unprecedented step of stopping people from leaving comments shows that Fox News acknowledges that there just might be a problem. Now it should -- granted it won't, but it should -- be forced to publicly address that problem rather than ignoring it. Because those people plastering racist hate all over Fox News's website? They aren't some anomaly or accident. That's Fox News's audience right there. That's who watches them day after day after day. That's their bread and butter. For the people who work at Fox News, being slapped in the face with the fact that their audience is made up of a bunch of bigots and racists should be a proverbial Come To Jesus moment. But again, it won't be. Because Fox News will simply sweep it under the rug and convince its own people that their network isn't doing a damn thing wrong.
But it would be nice to think that for the decent rank and file who work for Fox News, because there's no doubt they're not all dead-hearted reactionaries, this whole thing will be a wake-up call. If you simply go into work every day as a producer, a writer, an editor etc. because, hey, it's a steady job and the rent has to be paid, while it's understandable to feel this way, please let your network's own recognition of the racist hostility happening under its purview sit in the pit of your soul like a rock. Let it make it just a little harder for you to sleep at night knowing what you're contributing to. Let it make you want to take a shower each and every time you get home from work. Because, again, that's your audience. Those are your people. That's the repugnant, hateful idiocy you spend day after day simultaneously stoking and exploiting. Let that fact eat you alive. Fox News, your network, can quietly wipe away the evidence of its condemnable contribution to the national discourse, the damage it's done. But erasing comments doesn't erase the people who wrote them. They're still watching you -- every day. They still hang on every word you say. And they're fucking monsters.