(Todd A. Smith)
As much as I love cable news, the partisan nature and the desire for higher ratings and profits has led to such division in America that it has put our beloved democracy in peril.
Many people do not know the difference between a journalist and talking head.
Therefore, when some talking heads on a network with news in its title tell them something that they like, those people usually gravitate towards their words as if it is the Gospel, not knowing that their favorite television personality has duped them with fake news.
According to Jeremy W. Peters and Katie Roberson of The New York Times, “Newly disclosed messages and testimony from some of the biggest stars and most senior executives at Fox News revealed that they privately expressed disbelief about President Donald J. Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him, even though the network continued to promote many of those lies on the air.
“The hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, as well as others at the company, repeatedly insulted and mocked Trump advisers, including Sidney Powell and Rudolph W. Giuliani, in text messages with each other in the weeks after the election, according to a legal filing on Thursday by Dominion Voting Systems. Dominion is suing Fox for defamation in a case that poses considerable financial and reputational risk for the country’s most watched cable news network.”
In layman’s terms, many Fox News late night personalities knew they were reporting fake news.
But because fake news was good for ratings and their bottom line, they continued to report falsehoods that eventually led to the insurrection on the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Even though media members must tell the truth, even if giving their opinions, certain media members ignored the ethics and morals of their profession because they feared their fans would leave them for other conservative fake news outlets.
There is nothing wrong with commentary, whether liberal or conservative.
I personally like to hear from all sides of the issue before forming my opinion on the issues of the day.
However, even those who give commentary instead of just reporting straight news are told that their opinions must be backed with facts and examples.
They cannot say I believe someone raped or murdered someone else just because they want it to be true or just because it would make the story more sensational, therefore attracting more eyes and ears.
However, when the Fox News ratings began falling after correctly calling the election for President Joe Biden and reporters fact checking Trump on social media, a conscious effort was made to put our democracy in danger just so they could benefit financially.
They must not have cared that people would lose their lives, even some of their fans.
They did not care that they put the lives of police officers in danger, even though many of its most popular television personalities claimed to back the blue during the Black Lives Matter movement.
They did not care that people would spend a significant amount of time in prison because they believed Trump’s big lie.
They sold all those people, some who probably faithfully watched their network, out for the almighty dollar.
A network that likes to spread Jesus Christ’s message to the masses must have forgotten that the love of money is the root of all evil.
And what America saw on Jan. 6, 2021, was purely evil.
Sure, Fox News says that what it reported on its airwaves is protected by the First Amendment.
However, any undergraduate student who has taken my Law and Ethics of Journalism class at Texas Southern University can tell them that freedom of speech and freedom of the press does not allow them to defame anyone or any company or organization.
Furthermore, with text messages showing that the television personalities and executives knew what they reported was false, the defamation case probably will meet the criteria for malice, or the lesser criteria of negligence.
As a result, Fox News will lose much more money in the lawsuit than they would have lost if they had just done their job as a news source.
That is to simply report the truth.
And they might lose credibility as a news organization.
Even former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly said he would never sell his soul for the ratings.
Whether a person liked O’Reilly’s old show or agrees with his politics, one must respect someone who will at least tell the truth when they know what the truth is.
But by knowingly lying to people about widespread voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election, amongst other things, right wing fake news outlets might eventually lead to the destruction of our Union if those people are not checked.
However, the blame should not be shouldered alone by television personalities like Carlson, Ingraham and others at certain conservative media outlets.
Consumers are to blame for the dissemination of fake news because when journalists at networks like Fox News told the truth about Biden winning the 2020 presidential election, while fact checking Trump about his big lies, viewers changed the channel and tuned into conservative competitors like Newsmax and OAN, which led to declining profits for Fox News.
Lastly, politicians like Trump and his minions deserve the rest of the blame for attempting to destroy our freedoms just so that they could remain in power illegally.
However, the reality of Fox News’ lies will probably never reach its fans because Fox News refuses to cover its defamation case, and many people only watch cable news that reinforces their opinions and bias, creating an echo chamber and a false notion that all their opinions are based in fact and reality.
That is why our current reality sees an eroding of our democracy and the possible destruction of the country we all love so dearly.