Churning Out True Believers Who Are Inoculated Against Doubt

Roger Ailes, Cupid

Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

Rolling Stone magazine has a lengthy article on Fox News’ Chairman, Roger Ailes. I’ve read news stories before about Fox and seen the documentary Outfoxed, but this article delivers a more detailed and carefully researched exposé about what it dubs “the most profitable propaganda machine in history.”

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to notice that Fox News functions like the PR arm of the Republican Party. This thesis is painstakingly documented by Tim Dickinson for Rolling Stone. What has escaped me before, however is the degree to which Roger Ailes’ political attack strategy has poisoned the entire process of discourse for devotees of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and others.

Dickinson’s article paints a picture of a man who has put his stamp on virtually every right-wing pundit. He has schooled each of them in the same strategy that he has used to help every Republican president since Richard Nixon. According to this article, Ailes’ strategy is to “forget all the facts and figures, and move to the offense as quickly as possible.”

It strikes me that the problem isn’t all of the propaganda that gets spewed forth by Fox and others; the problem is that over time they have trained an army of Tea Party patriots to be totally immune to facts or argument. As soon as they hear facts that challenge their own opinions, then they react by going on the offensive. They do not become circumspect. They do not wonder whether the fact is true. They do not search for a plausible counter-fact with equivalent weight. They simply get aggressive in their denial. And in the end, they’ve been energized by how well Ailes’ strategy has allowed them to “win” against those who disagree with them.

How can a society have intelligent discourse if people are inoculated against ever questioning their own beliefs? What is the point of educating such a person about history or anything else, if their mind has been effectively sealed shut? More troubling is the question of what is the consequence to a Democracy filled with people immune to all forms of doubt? Roger Ailes knows the answer, and that answer is the reason he’s dedicated his life to such a quest.

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  • Jim Wheeler  On June 1, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Indeed, Keith, I believe you have nailed it well here. The 2012 election may be a referendum on just how effective is this unprecedented far-right propaganda machine. No question that it resonates with the already-converted. But I think it’s an open question for the 20% or so Independents like myself. Personally, it only stimulates me to think of counter-arguments.


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