At Lawrence, Fox News is a label that inspires laughter. This is unsurprising when considering how liberal our campus is. While I do find Fox to be an unpleasant mixture of obnoxious and offensive—– Megyn Kelly and Bill O’Reilly would just like to remind you that Santa is definitely a white man –– I wonder if laughing is the appropriate response.
Any television channel, whether or not they’re news, is aiming to appease their audience. Fox News just does so blatantly. Rich white men like to hear other rich white men agreeing with them. Nerdy liberals appreciate other nerdy liberals validating their viewpoints. MSNBC is no paragon of media virtue. They just manage to look a little less evil than Fox to the college demographic.
Just as audiences have their biases, so do journalists. Biased news is unfortunate but unavoidable. All journalists have some sort of bias, even if they try to be objective. Additionally, viewers follow journalists with opinions similar to their own. Fox may give their viewers biased news, but those viewers already believe what Fox says.
However, staying within one’s political comfort zone is also problematic. If a conservative rarely hears from liberals, how do they truly know what liberals believe? How can they argue against a viewpoint when all they know is how wrong that viewpoint is? Discussion falls flat because neither side understands or respects the other.
In this circumstance, liberals do not have to try very hard. One cannot debate with someone who has no idea what they’re arguing about. However, when one side will not budge and cannot argue, nothing can be accomplished. The recent government shutdown illustrates this troublesome divide in policymaking.
While I have my biases, I want to point out that liberals do this, as well. We chuckle at Bill O’Reilly, particularly when he shows up on “The Colbert Report” or “The Daily Show,” but we never wonder if he has some decent ideas. Personally, I think he spews nonsense, but disregarding him completely means we may miss the crux of his argument.
The underlying issue here is partisan politics in news reporting and television watching. Both conservative and liberal news stations stick fast to their opinions. No one looks at the other side; or, if they do, it is only because they want something to laugh at. No one really gets the full story because the news fuses with the reporter’s opinions. Forming opinions distinct from the main liberal or conservative beliefs is difficult.
The conservatives at Fox aren’t very good at being conservatives precisely because they go right along with their party and ignore the other side. Ideally, a good conservative or liberal would begin at a neutral point, understand both sides, and fall on the conservative or liberal side of the spectrum because of their own conclusions.
Good liberals need good conservatives and vice versa. One needs the other so they have someone to debate with. One’s beliefs become stronger when they’re subjected to other beliefs. This makes one revise and rethink one’s opinions, thereby making them stronger. The real issue with Fox is their unwillingness to consider other opinions. Trying out a different perspective does not necessitate abandoning your original ideas. In fact, those original ideas usually become stronger because of it.