If I didn’t watch Jon Stewart I’d have no idea what goes on at Fox News. When Stewart and his staff present clips from Murdoch’s various programs, I admit to being flabbergasted by the inanity, wrongheadedness, and unending non sequiturs spouted by hosts and guests alike. For his audience Stewart delivers constant humor of the absurd kind. Do adults really say such things?
Alas, they do. Worse, of course, millions of Americans take their cue from the likes of O’Reilly, Hannity, et al., who give their viewers permission to believe that black is white, the sun revolves around the earth, Obama is a Muslim, and all scientists are full of crap.
I suppose that at one time in our history the type of judgments uttered at Fox would occupy a thin sliver at the margins of broad discourse. Today is different. Those who utter the most outrageous opinions actually sit in Congress, supported by legions of benighted blowhards dining on the daily menu of lies, innuendo, and rhetorical bilge offered by Limbaugh and company.
Why should any of this matter?
Well, suppose that there are very serous problems that demand our urgent political attention. I’ll name two: climate change and growing inequality. If you subscribe to the views of Fox and their ilk, you’d simply deny that these problems exist, in which case, no remedial action is required.
For the Rest of Us, these are critical issues that must be addressed boldly and quickly. Unfortunately the solutions almost necessarily involve politics at the federal, state, and local levels. There are no obvious market-based fixes because perceived immediate interests favor the status quo.
Yet with reactionary obscurantists blocking workable remedies in our legislative bodies, the future looks pretty dismal for my grandchildren and their successors. Nothing really to laugh at.