Yesterday, we posted a video clip of Fox News host Anna Kooiman reporting over the weekend that President Obama was planning to pay, out of his own pocket, to fund something called the Museum of Muslim Culture during the ongoing government shutdown. The fact that Kooiman is the leggy blonde seated between two white guys in what’s a pretty standard Fox News format should tell you everything you need to know about the size of the brain in her head, but that’s really only part of what’s behind the story here — the story being that Kooiman was wrong. Not just wrong but embarrassingly wrong. Not only is Obama not funding the Museum of Muslim Culture but there is no Museum of Muslim Culture and the item she was referencing had come from a satire site, the National Report. The whole thing was nonsense designed to mock the delusional paranoia of Fox News’s audience and damn if it didn’t wind up going right into the machine that feeds that delusional paranoia 24/7. It’s like a Möbius strip of pure crazy.
Kooiman apologized on Twitter for the screw-up, blaming “flawed research” — which is a hell of a long way from admitting she got had. But it needs to be pointed out that Fox News proper doesn’t plan to issue any sort of retraction until next weekend, on the upcoming edition of Fox and Friends Weekend. That’s a pretty blatant breach of ethics because it allows the lie to fester for a full week without being corrected for viewers, who go right on believing that Barack Obama is personally paying to keep a Muslim museum open during the shutdown. But then, that’s precisely the point, isn’t it?
Not long ago, I wrote a quick piece here blaming the media for the current shutdown, in that it’s the political press’s unwillingness to traffic in reality rather than dutiful stenography and false objectivity that emboldened the crazies in the GOP. If they were never going to be called on the bullshit they’ve been pulling for the past few years and forced to answer for it by an informed electorate, why stop? Why suddenly play by the rules or tell the truth? What do they possibly have to gain? But it obviously goes much deeper than that, because in addition to not having a fair-but-adversarial national media to have to answer to, the Republicans also have their own media that will literally broadcast anything they say, regardless of whether it’s the least bit tethered to reality. They know this, too. They know that they can make up any story they want — concoct entire Matrix-level worlds out of pure shit, pulled directly from their own asses — and that the conservative press will obediently parrot it to the faithful word-for-phony-word. Truth? What’s that? There is no truth, only the spin that, left uncorrected, becomes its own funhouse mirror kind of truth.
What’s more, Fox News has become so good at circulating the outlandish that it now can no longer recognize reality from its own largely fictional narrative. The crap it puts out there non-stop in a desperate attempt to demonize and smear its political enemies, turning them into caricatures, is so self-satirical that the network can’t spot those satirizing it. Or, perhaps, it can tell the difference and simply doesn’t care. Once the negative story about Obama is released into the partisan political bloodstream, like some virulent toxin, it doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not, only that it serves the purpose for which it was intended. I realize this has been said many times, but now that our country stands on the verge of an economic cataclysm due largely to one party and its coordinated campaign of misinformation, it needs to be said again: Fox News is not news. It isn’t even simply opinion. It’s horseshit, plain and simple. If a massive press outlet and those ancillary outlets that hang on its every word refuse to play by the rules that govern almost every other journalistic organization, what can you do? Who’s to stop it?
Make no mistake: If someone could snap his or her fingers and make the entire irresponsible conservative media complex as it currently exists vanish in an instant, I would be 100% in favor of it — cries of censorship be damned — because it would be good for the country. It would pop the epistemic bubble conservatives have chosen to surround themselves with and at least partially halt the damage it’s doing to each of us and America in general. This isn’t about opinion. There’s nothing at all wrong with offering even a forceful opinion, regardless of who agrees or disagrees. This is about telling the truth. When that goes, we’re lost — as we now know all too well.
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.