Ray's Reviews > The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned a Network into a Propaganda Machine

The Fox Effect by David Brock
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Mar 06, 12

Read from February 27 to March 01, 2012

This book is most likely to inspire a number of "hated it" as well as a number of "loved it" responses, since it discusses one of our most sensitive topics, e.g., partisan politics. The Country seems to be as polarized as it's ever been, and ideologues from the left and the right are sure to weigh in on this book.

The left and the right seem to battle like prosecutor and defense counsel in the criminal trials. And like trial lawyers who only present one side of an argument, and will offer theories which support their side as "facts", political party loyalists or spokepersons seem to be doing the same. And that's the basic premise of this book.

David Brock points out how Fox has become the broadcast voice of the Conservative Movement in this country. It's hard to argue against that. Most of the recent and current GOP candidates for President, with the notable exception of Mitt Romney, have been commentators on the Fox network. It'll be a long time before a prominent Democrat or Liberal will host a show on Fox.

Brock doesn't argue that people of any political persuasion shouldn't have the right to speak and be heard, but does make the case that a constant theme from only one perspective, and the selective use of facts, is better defined as propaganda than as news. As in civil or criminal trials, prosecuting attorneys are expected to pursue their case with vigor, but their duty is to refrain from improper methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction. Instead, they are expected to use every legitimate means to produce a just outcome. And Brock, a converted conservative, feels that these same principles should apply to television networks as well. He provides examples where Fox hosts have gone beyond "legitimate means", and provide one sided points designed not to inform, but to reinforce their views. He notes that the "fair and balanced" slogan Fox executives use in describing their network is valid if meant to mean that Fox provides a voice which is designed to balance the more liberal voices of the mainstream media. In that regard, viewers of the Fox Network, as the more conservative members of society, will agree with the Fox executives that they bring balance to political discussions. And those more left or centered will disagree with that viewpoint, and find Brock's book to be a voice of reason.

Brock also points out how the popularity of the Fox Network, and it's constant theme supporting conservative views, has prevented politicians from agreeing to compromises, for fear of being criticized by the Network voices. Ultimately, the inability to compromise, or to hear the other's views and be able to find common ground leads to roadblocks and inaction. And in politics, that contributes to the extremely unfavorable view of Congress over these past few years. And that may well also account for the growing number of voters, especially those in the 18 to 34 year-old group, who consider themselves to be neither Democrat nor Republican.
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