All happy families are alike; some unhappy families are unhappy because of Fox News.
You might have come across the articles (“I Lost My Dad to Fox News” / “Lost Someone to Fox News?” / “‘Fox News Brain’: Meet the Families Torn Apart by Toxic Cable News”), or the Reddit threads, or the support groups on Facebook, as people have sought ways to mourn loved ones who are still alive. The discussions consider a loss that Americans don’t have good language for, in part because the loss itself is a matter of language: They describe what it’s like to find yourself suddenly unable to speak with people you’ve known your whole life. They acknowledge how easily a national crisis can become a personal one. At this point, some Americans speak English; others speak Fox.
Political theorists, over the years, have looked for metaphors to describe the effects that Fox—particularly its widely watched opinion shows—has had on American politics and culture. They’ve talked about the network as an “information silo” and “a filter bubble” and an “echo chamber,” as an “alternate reality” constructed of “alternative facts,” as a virus on the body politic, as an organ of the state. The comparisons are all correct. But they don’t quite capture what the elegies for Fox-felled loved ones express so efficiently.
Fox, for many of its fans, is an identity shaped by an ever-expanding lexicon: mob, PC police, Russiagate, deep state, MSM, MS-13, socialistagenda, Dems, libs, Benghazi, hordes, hoax, dirty, violent, invasion, open borders, anarchy, liberty, Donald Trump. Fox has two pronouns, you and they, and one tone: indignation. (You are under attack; they are the attackers.) Its grammar is grievance. Its effect is totalizing.
Over time, if you watch enough Fox & Friends or The Five or Tucker Carlson or Sean Hannity or Laura Ingraham, you will come to understand, as a matter of synaptic impulse, that immigrants are invading and the mob is coming and the news is lying and Trump alone can fix it.
Language, too, is a norm. It is one more shared fact of political life that can seem self-evident until someone like Trump, or something like Fox, reveals the fragility that was there all along. You might have observed, lately, how Americans seem always to be talking past one another—how we’re failing one another even at the level of our vernacular. In the America of 2020, socialism could suggest “Sweden-style social safety net” or “looming threat to liberty.” Journalist could suggest “a person whose job is to report the news of the day” or “enemy of the people.” Cancel culture could mean … actually, I have no idea at all what cancel culture means at this point.
Fox, on its own, did not create that confusion. But it exacerbated it, and exploited it. The network turned its translations of the world into a business model. Every day, the most watched shows of the most watched cable network in the country—a prime-time destination more popular than ESPN—take the familiar idioms of American democracy and wear away at their common meanings. The result is disorientation. The result is mass suspicion. Like a vengeful God bringing chaos to Babel, Fox has helped to create a nation of people who share everything but the ability to talk with one another.
Continued at Source: The Atlantic