The Corner

Culture

‘Dangerous Threat’ Is . . . Dangerous, Apparently

The Fox News electronic ticker is seen outside the News Corporation building in New York City. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Garrett Graff of CNN insists that Fox News is a “dangerous threat to the national security of the United States.” Not only a threat, but a dangerous threat — as opposed to all those . . . non-dangerous . . . threats we are used to.

A whole lot of what goes on at Fox News is hot garbage piled high, but from here on out I’ll thank CNN and the rest of our progressive friends to spare us their ceremonial indignation about the assault on American journalism and its institutions. Most of what people watch on Fox News is opinion programming presented as such. Many of those opinions are bananas and ill-informed. Lot of that going around these days.

It also is the case that the New York Times won a Pulitzer prize for publishing lightly edited Soviet propaganda (on this we have the good word of the New York Times itself) which raises the question of exactly which institutions we might entrust with the power to distinguish real journalism from crap journalism from a “dangerous threat to the national security of the United States.” Because a “dangerous threat to the national security of the United States” is something we should do something about, no? Graff, of course, won’t say what.

Every sin that you can lay at the feet of Fox News — Graff dwells on the network’s repetition of talking points preferred by U.S. adversaries abroad when they coincide with domestic political interests as though that hadn’t been practically the whole of the media campaign against George W. Bush — is found to a greater or lesser extent in practically every other media outlet of any consequence. Sean Hannity lives in a fantasyland, to be sure. You can read all about it in between the horoscopes in the Washington Post and the New York Times’s advertorials for pseudoscience. Or public radio’s breathless reports on imaginary exploding bullets, Rachel Maddow’s conspiracy theory du jour, Rolling Stone’s very moving account of a horrible crime that never happened, the New York Times’s equally fictitious reporting on tax policy, etc.

Graff should be both more worried and less worried than he is. He overestimates the problem of Fox News specifically. He underestimates the problem of the way in which cable-news programming as a whole functions as an echo-chamber and amplifier for a relatively small but politically significant demographic of Americans who are old and stupid and credulous. Both Fox News and MSNBC have a median viewer age of 65, and oldsters are by far the most enthusiastic consumers of television across-the-board.

People who rely on television for their news are dumb. Dumb as rocks. Dumber than nine chickens. Everybody knows this, but some people have professional reasons for declining to say so.

Graff predictably lacks the courage of his convictions. What do we do about threats to national security — dangerous threats to national security — Mr. Graff? Do tell.

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