I’m mostly—though not entirely—liberal, and for me that means I have not watched Fox News for more than a few minutes at a time for many years. Even if you’re just moderately liberal, you have to be more patient than I am to stand it for much more time. For many years I’ve maintained, only half-jokingly, that not watching Fox News would be the fastest way to raise American intelligence. Then came November 21, 2011. Frances Martel wrote a piece called “Left Rejoices As Poll of 612 New Jerseans Declares Fox News Makes People Stupid.” Of course the controversy divided pretty evenly along conservative-liberal lines, the main substantive knock on the poll being its methodology. However, the article at this url, http://www.mediaite.com/online/that-ill-informed-fox-news-viewer-poll-actually-its-based-on-proven-methodology/, seems to show the methodology to be fairly solid…or at least used equally by both sides.
Then came August 30, 2012. The day after V.P. candidate Paul Ryan spoke at the Republican National Convention, Sally Kohn wrote “Paul Ryan’s Speech in Three Words” (http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/08/30/paul-ryans-speech-in-three-words/). And, as you can see by the url, she wrote it for FOX NEWS! Then there’s this article by Rick Ungar about Obama being the smallest government spender in decades: http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2012/05/24/who-is-the-smallest-government-spender-since-eisenhower-would-you-believe-its-barack-obama/. It’s in the usually conservative Forbes magazine. True, Sally Kohn and Rick Ungar are the token “lefties” of Fox and Forbes, respectively, but still!
This is the age where anybody can say anything they want, and fact checkers just seem like party poopers.
If Paul Ryan, for example, wants to pin the closing of the auto plant in his home town on President Obama, that just seems ok, even though it couldn’t possibly be true. Sally Kohn caught Ryan on that and other points too.
But this was harder to catch because it wasn’t an outright untruth. Ryan had some “proof.” For example, his internet defenders point to an article in the February 2, 2009, Janesville Gazette, and another in April 2009, both speaking of continuing activity at the plant by around 50 people. It took some digging to find that the official plant closing was December 23, 2008, when 1200 workers, the majority of the plant’s force, was laid off. According to a blogger named CountryMouse24, “There were a few who stayed on to finish a small order for Isuzu (not GM!), and then the equipment had to be dismantled and moved and other clean-up jobs done—that doesn’t happen while the plant is open….” I have no idea who CountryMouse24 is, but he/she had it right.
If you’re prone not to believe just anything, it’s hard to trust anyone these days, and the major media have taken an especially hard hit. Sally Kohn, however, caused me to take a second look at Fox. (I’ve always looked at Forbes.) Is this just tokenism or does it represent some attempt at real balance? Probably the former, so my second look may not last much longer than a second, but one sometimes dares to hope.