We don’t have cable at our apartment, so my exposure to Fox News is limited. Thank god for small favors, right? Still, even I know that the network is overflowing with crazy. For anybody well-acquainted with reality, watching Fox News is like tuning in to the latest updates from Bizarro World. Up is down, left is right. (Except the left is never right, because those flag-burning socialist baby killers are coming after your children to take away their religion while turning them into homosexual jihadists.)
I am not the first or even the 26,000th person to say that facts are only somewhat relevant to Fox’s reporting. Interpretation, opinion, spin, and emotion have stronger pull. Fox distorts the truth to fit its agenda, and in a triumph of evil-genius message-manipulating puppetry, its talking heads regularly complain about how the liberal media is biased, and only Fox has the courage to tell the “truth.”
I have been thinking about how we can have our own Fox News channel inside our heads. To some extent, most of us create versions of reality to fit our personal agenda. We might downplay inconvenient facts and concoct new interpretations of events. We look better than we are when we broadcast these lies — and they are lies, even if they’re small ones. The more we repeat them, the easier it is to believe the stories we tell ourselves. We have met Karl Rove and he is us.
And of course these stories get high ratings, because they tell us what we want to hear about ourselves.
I have not been completely immune from being overly imaginative in this way, but I am doing my best to be straightforward and honest — with both myself and other people. I aim to be BBC World News, not Fox News. This is why lately, I am alternately angered and amused by people who habitually lie to themselves and to me. It angers me because I initially question myself: Did I get the story wrong? But then I look at the immutable facts and think, “No, I’m just dealing with the Glenn Beck of my personal life.”
It amuses me because after figuring that out, I somewhat enjoy watching the Fox News mentality in action. At first, I think these people must be plotting their dishonest moves, but then I realize that’s giving them too much credit. They actually believe their distorted worldview over the facts staring them in the face. So it becomes entertaining to see them drift off into their Bizarro World, in which their stories have little to no basis in reality. I watch for a while, just to observe the craziness in action. And then I go back to living in the real world. We all are affected by our own perspectives, but when they substitute for reality, it is time for me to change the channel.