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Without the “Fox effect,” neither Bush nor Trump could have won

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We've had a few threads exploring media bias, the dangerous political climate, and various ways propaganda seems to be shaping our politics, but I felt this one was specific enough to have it's own.

 

 

Fox News’s propaganda isn’t just unethical — research shows it’s enormously influential
Without the “Fox effect,” neither Bush nor Trump could have won.

Quote

Fox’s propaganda broadcasting matters. It’s a somewhat underexplored topic in political science research, but the information that’s available suggests that right-wing propaganda broadcasting — led by Fox but also including Sinclair Broadcast Group — has a decisive influence on American politics.

<...>

if Fox News hadn’t existed, the Republican presidential candidate’s share of the two-party vote would have been 3.59 points lower in 2004 and 6.34 points lower in 2008. Without Fox, in other words, the GOP’s only popular vote win since the 1980s would have been reversed and the 2008 election would have been an extinction-level landslide.

<...>

It would be ridiculous, of course, to argue that absent conservative propaganda broadcasting, Republicans would never win an election. What would happen, instead, is that in order to avoid constantly losing, Republicans would need to do more to bring key aspects of their policy agenda in line with public opinion and display less indifference to the prevalence of scandal-plagued individuals in party leadership. The conclusion, however, remains the same: Fox appears to be a decisive influence in making the Republican Party as currently constituted an electorally viable entity. And these studies are based on Fox's past — according to Mayer, the network has only become more propagandistic since the 2016 election.

<continue reading>

I think we need to do something about this. TBH, I don't know quite what that can/should be and how to improve matters while still having appropriate deference for the First Amendment.

Also, as seems clear from the data, arguing that this is a "both sides" issue is (to be kind) disingenuous. 

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I think right wing and fringe media like Breitbart, Drudge Report, InfoWars, and etc multiply the FoxNews effect. Alone FoxNews is merely a bias cable network not all that different (though more successful) than MSNBC. It is the glut of personalities beyond FoxNews like Limbaugh, Savage, Levine, Coulter, Jones, Beck, and etc who create the echo chamber FoxNews expertly exploits. 

I don't think FoxNews can be censored. I don't think FoxNews should be censored. Freedom of speech protects their right to render  their  opinions. However just like the WWF was forced to change it's name to the WWE because too many people thought it was real so to should FoxNews have to drop it's News label. It is just a collection of media personality spouting off their opinions. It is no more a news channels than in Howard Stern's Sirius satellite Channels are News channels. 

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It's a "tragedy of the commons" when issues are taken to nth degree for self interest, as opposed to the public interest at large.

The right went on for decades about so-called liberal media. Rather than balance it,  instead took it to the extreme.

That's a fail and an ironic one at that.

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2 hours ago, Ten oz said:

I don't think FoxNews can be censored. I don't think FoxNews should be censored. Freedom of speech protects their right to render  their  opinions. However just like the WWF was forced to change it's name to the WWE because too many people thought it was real so to should FoxNews have to drop it's News label. It is just a collection of media personality spouting off their opinions. It is no more a news channels than in Howard Stern's Sirius satellite Channels are News channels. 

WWE changed their name because of a trademark lawsuit with the World Wide Fund for Nature(WWF).

 

And I don't think they should be forced to drop their News label. The ability to decide what is and isn't news is not a power I want in the hands of the government. That might as well be Trump's wet dream.

"You get a fake news label, and you get a fake news label, and you get a fake news label....."

Edited by Raider5678

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Not too many avenues of redress given the First Amendment (and rightly so). However, many actions - such as withholding potentially damaging stories - could be considered illegal contributions to the Trump campaign. I guessing there have been FCC violations as well - but I doubt the fines are commensurate with the impact and profit.

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8 hours ago, Raider5678 said:

WWE changed their name because of a trademark lawsuit with the World Wide Fund for Nature(WWF).

 

And I don't think they should be forced to drop their News label. The ability to decide what is and isn't news is not a power I want in the hands of the government. That might as well be Trump's wet dream.

"You get a fake news label, and you get a fake news label, and you get a fake news label....."

I see. I had thought the name change was an acknowledgement. My mistake.

The FCC (govt) already regulates TV. I am not suggesting anything other than the enforcement of existing rules. As a sponsor of the Republican Party FoxNews should have to air identifiers.

Quote

 

The sponsorship identification rule requires the identification of the sponsor of any cablecasting that is presented in exchange for money, service or "other valuable consideration."  All political spots must contain a visual sponsorship identification in letters equal to at least four percent of the screen height and the identification must be on the air for at least four seconds.  Where the cablecast advertises commercial products or services, a mention of the corporate or trade name is considered sufficient.  Link

 

Numerous FoxNews personalities have been given jobs in the current and in previous Republican administrations, campaigned for Republican Politicians, and been provided special access. There is clearly an exchange of service or other value at play between the Republican Party and FoxNews. 

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12 hours ago, iNow said:

I think we need to do something about this. TBH, I don't know quite what that can/should be and how to improve matters while still having appropriate deference for the First Amendment.

Also, as seems clear from the data, arguing that this is a "both sides" issue is (to be kind) disingenuous. 

I think there's a discussion to be had about the fact that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are two separate items in the first amendment. If FOX is not acting as the press, then there are limitations that can be put in place that do not infringe on their freedom of speech. We don't have to give them the airwaves for free, for example (though that's a much smaller effect than it once was)

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2 hours ago, swansont said:

I think there's a discussion to be had about the fact that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are two separate items in the first amendment.

That's an interesting point. My initial thought goes to questions around how "press" is defined and who owns that. There's probably SCOTUS precedent here that could be leveraged.

Your post reminds me also of an overlapping topic in the news recently, specifically whether or not Facebook, Twitter, and similar platforms can be treated as news sources and potentially regulated as such. Not immediately relevant to this discussion, but would need to be considered in any discussion involving an updated definition for "press."

Either way... More important for me is the need for a distinction between "news" or "press" and "propaganda."

That's where I visualize the pointy end of the spear in these discussions... press vs. propaganda... and where their Venn diagrams overlap. There has to be a way to differentiate the two, and one that goes beyond the "I'll know it when I see it" definition so often used for porn. 

Clear definitions might help us find ways to clearly regulate without insulting the protections afforded by the constitution (or, they might not... this is a challenging topic).

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It’s incredibje. 

Its sad. It’s dangerous. It’s so many things. 

 

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We can't change the press- if nothing else, free speech means we are stuck with it.

We can change education.

 

We can teach kids to recognise dross when they see it.

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23 hours ago, iNow said:

Your post reminds me also of an overlapping topic in the news recently, specifically whether or not Facebook, Twitter, and similar platforms can be treated as news sources and potentially regulated as such. Not immediately relevant to this discussion, but would need to be considered in any discussion involving an updated definition for "press."

Either way... More important for me is the need for a distinction between "news" or "press" and "propaganda."

That's where I visualize the pointy end of the spear in these discussions... press vs. propaganda... and where their Venn diagrams overlap. There has to be a way to differentiate the two, and one that goes beyond the "I'll know it when I see it" definition so often used for porn. 

Clear definitions might help us find ways to clearly regulate without insulting the protections afforded by the constitution (or, they might not... this is a challenging topic).

 

That's a tight Venn diagram, when does bias become a lie...

4 hours ago, John Cuthber said:

We can change education.

 not while the accountants run things.  

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10 hours ago, iNow said:

It’s incredibje. 

Its sad. It’s dangerous. It’s so many things. 

 

Right, this type of stuff crosses the line with regards to the FCC's sponsorship identification rule I linked earlier. At a minimum shows like Hannity's should have to acknowledge with some time of on screen text that it's a Republican Party endorsed/affiliated show. 

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I'm not a fan of G W Bush either, but wasn't Fox News more of a "normal" conservative news source at that time?

Not questioning the premise that Fox could have made the difference foe Bush also, but if replaced by another conservative news source I don't think it is quite as clear.

 

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51 minutes ago, J.C.MacSwell said:

I'm not a fan of G W Bush either, but wasn't Fox News more of a "normal" conservative news source at that time?

less  bias, perhaps but "normal" ?

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Just now, dimreepr said:

less  bias, perhaps but "normal" ?

Yes normal being in quotes. The actual News side of Fox is still "normal" in this respect, but I don't think it gets the same viewership as the entertainment/opinion/advertising for Trump side. I can't remember the same level of "support" for G W Bush.

 

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Just now, J.C.MacSwell said:

Yes normal being in quotes. The actual News side of Fox is still "normal" in this respect, but I don't think it gets the same viewership as the entertainment/opinion/advertising for Trump side. I can't remember the same level of "support" for G W Bush.

 

2

Way to kill the joke. :rolleyes:

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4 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

Way to kill the joke. :rolleyes:

I was not as aware of Fox at that time, which prompted my question. Also makes it hard to judge your humour.

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2 hours ago, J.C.MacSwell said:

wasn't Fox News more of a "normal" conservative news source at that time?

As dim pointed out already, "normal" is relative, but summarized: Yes. The scale, scope, and consistency of Fox' rage generation machine, propaganda, and false stories has dramatically increased over the years, as has their embeddedness and collaboration directly with the current White House.

 

2 hours ago, J.C.MacSwell said:

if replaced by another conservative news source I don't think it is quite as clear.

As the article I shared points out, nobody is suggesting Fox operates in a vacuum or is unassisted by other sources. It is, however, important to consider scale, scope, and intent. The data supports this conclusion in essentially every study ever conducted.

Here's one: https://web.stanford.edu/~ayurukog/cable_news.pdf

We estimate that Fox News increases Republican vote shares by 0.3 points among viewers induced into watching 2.5 additional minutes per week by variation in position. We then estimate a model of voters who select into watching slanted news, and whose ideologies evolve as a result. We use the model to assess the growth over time of Fox News influence, to quantitatively assess media-driven polarization, and to simulate alternative ideological slanting of news channels.

<...>

We find that the estimated effect of removing FNC on Republican vote share increased in magnitude from -0.46 points in 2000 to an estimated -3.59 points in 2004, and -6.34 points in 2008 as a result of increased viewership.

<...>

Our estimates imply increasing effects of FNC on the Republican vote share in presidential elections over time, from 0.46 points in 2000 to 6.34 points in 2008. Furthermore, we estimate that cable news can increase polarization and explain about two-thirds of the increase among the public in the US

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1 hour ago, J.C.MacSwell said:

Yes normal being in quotes. The actual News side of Fox is still "normal" in this respect, but I don't think it gets the same viewership as the entertainment/opinion/advertising for Trump side. I can't remember the same level of "support" for G W Bush.

I think actually that it was always designed to work the way it does today. However, it was more about promoting a certain type of conservative worldview (which did clash with the reality early on) rather than protecting the presidency as it does now. That part is indeed new. However, the overall design was always to have a serious news arm to provide legitimacy and then surround it tightly with pundits for opinion dissemination. While they provided welcome ammunition for the GOP, they were not quite as intertwined with the administration. The reason for that is that probably for the first time they realized that they exert direct influence over the president himself, rather than indirectly, via their voter base.

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4 hours ago, J.C.MacSwell said:

I'm not a fan of G W Bush either, but wasn't Fox News more of a "normal" conservative news source at that time?

Not questioning the premise that Fox could have made the difference foe Bush also, but if replaced by another conservative news source I don't think it is quite as clear.

 

Relative to media as a whole FoxNews was no Better under Bush than it is under Trump. Just has Trump has hired FoxNews employees to come work in the White White and for his campaign so did Bush. FoxNews personality Tony Snow was Bush's Press Sec. after all and Sean Hannity use to fly around on Air Force one and get special access. 

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6 hours ago, J.C.MacSwell said:

I'm not a fan of G W Bush either, but wasn't Fox News more of a "normal" conservative news source at that time?

That depends on your frame of reference.

In most of the Western world, the Clintons and Obama would be considered Right wing.

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Fox News started out as the anti-Obama channel.  They had 8 years of practice defaming Obama, especially with Birtherism.  Whenever I watched Fox News during Obama's term, the main story was how Obama was the source of all evil in this world.

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22 minutes ago, Airbrush said:

Fox News started out as the anti-Obama channel.  They had 8 years of practice defaming Obama, especially with Birtherism.  Whenever I watched Fox News during Obama's term, the main story was how Obama was the source of all evil in this world.

Uhm, I think you meant Bill Clinton? FoxNews was launch in 96' and shot up quickly assailing the Clintons and Al Gore. 

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A more humorous take from Sam Bee on this same story

 

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