A few political links today.
First, several links about a study, widely reported this past week, about what happens when Fox News viewers are paid to watch CNN.
Fortune, Amiah Taylor, 12 April 2022: Over 700 Fox News viewers were paid to watch CNN for a month and the results are illuminating
This piece includes some especially vile comments by Tucker Carlson about Ketanji Brown Jackson. And this summary:
A new political study published on April 3 confirms that personalized media streams promote confirmation bias, or the tendency to filter new information through your existing and long-held beliefs and ultimately reinforce your previous ideas, irrespective of accuracy. On the flip side, exposure to varied news outlets can promote more divergent ways of thinking, as noted by the study’s two authors, political scientists David Broockman of University of California at Berkeley and Joshua Kalla of Yale.
Second Nexus, 10 April 2022: Devout Fox News Viewers Were Paid to Switch to CNN for a Month and the Results Have People Surprised
OnlySky, 11 April 2022: What we learned when Fox News viewers were paid to watch CNN.
Fox News isn’t just a news network or part of a larger media and entertainment umbrella. It is a lifestyle, a political worldview, a cult. This bubble or better, cage, is where Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity are the sect leaders, manipulating and cajoling, provoking and controlling.
And like with any cult, breaking out is difficult, and doing it on your own can be a challenge. But recently, for a select few members of the Fox News cult, help came to them in the form of research.
Researchers paid some 300 regular Fox News viewers $15 per hour to watch CNN, up to 7 hours per week, for a month. As Fox News viewers, these were people who likely believe the presidential election was stolen, and believe misinformation about COVID.
Switchers were five percentage points more likely to believe that people suffer from long Covid, for example, and six points more likely to believe that many foreign countries did a better job than the U.S. of controlling the virus. They were seven points more likely to support voting by mail. [ And so on, further examples ] …
Researchers were surprised there was noticeable change at all, but then concerned that the changes didn’t last. Habits and attitudes dissipated.
So what does this mean? That persuasion is possible but people fall back into familiar habits, perhaps to keep peace with their family and friends?
There is a lot to be concerned with in light of such findings. What can we do with this knowledge? Given that the news media landscape is very much part of the free market capitalist enterprise, not a lot. Perhaps, as in Finland, education authorities should now be considering tackling misinformation formally right down in the younger levels of schooling. But with school boards and policy-makers in the states wrapped up in the very ideology one might be seeking to tackle, this is sadly unlikely to happen.
So there is no escaping this kind of stuff anytime soon…
AlterNet, David Badash, 11 April 2022: Fox News dangerously declares war on teachers: Calls for violence, accusations of ‘inclination’ to pedophilia
Media Matters, Matt Gertz, 11 April 2022: With Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, Republicans have weaponized their Fox News base against teachers
Salon, Amanda Marcotte, 12 April 2022: Republicans follow Putin’s playbook: Target LGBTQ rights first, subtitled, “Before Florida’s ‘don’t say gay’ law, Putin used ‘groomer’ accusations to gut LGBTQ rights in Russia”
Comment: this last item is part of the reason, I gather, that right-wingers support the warmonger Putin. Because he’s anti-gay too! So invading Ukraine and killing thousands of innocent people is OK.
Trying to look on the bright side?
Salon, Brian Karem, 14 April 2022: Trump, Putin and their kind are still dangerous — but their time is almost up, subtitled, “Old-guard autocrats like Trump, Putin and Erdogan can’t control information — in the end, that will destroy them”
This sounds like it should be true — if you believe a lie, won’t reality eventually catch up with you? — but I’m skeptical. Information has been out there all along, and this hasn’t stopped there being so many people *eager* for misinformation, anything no matter how absurd that will flatter them and their group. See CNN items above; exposing people to better information doesn’t have a lasting effect.
But let’s see what the article says.
These autocrats have experienced success up to this point by using the old methods of controlling access to information — jailing, killing and smearing the opposition and the reporters who try to report the truth.
But social media is proving to be the tipping point. Putin can’t cover up genocide. He can’t sell his propaganda because he cannot control the dissemination of information, even as he tries to shut down access to the internet in Russia. Erdogan cannot stop the word from getting out because he can’t control the 21st-century printing press — the cellphone.
Trump can no longer succeed as he once did because he cannot control social media either. Those left worshiping Trump are, for the most part, scared, aging white people (many of whom are racists, misogynists and religious fanatics) who rely only on Trump and Fox News for the information they receive.
Well maybe he has a point. Putin is struggling. Yet many of his people still apparently believe his version of the story for the invasion of Ukraine (Nazis!) because they hear nothing else; Putin *has* cut off other sources of information.
And Trump voters still watch only Fox News.
So we’ll see.