Miller: Turn off Fox, and other easy resolutions for the New Year
It’s a cliche and perhaps naïve to think that the changing of the year means we’ll magically be able to change our behaviors. On the other hand, if we take on little things that aren’t too demanding, it can make a difference. Here are a few simple ones for 2011:
Turn off Fox: This is an easy one for me since I don’t watch Fox News – except occasionally to reaffirm my belief that a more slanted, sordid, harmful and downright evil media outlet has never existed before in this country. Sure, there have been any number of magazines, newspapers, websites, blogs and other media that truck specifically in heavily biased and faux-populist content, but none in recent memory that have gained the audience base of Fox. The fact that Fox has become the de-facto communications arm of the Republican party gives it more the air of state-run media than a private network. Fox saturates its airwaves with distortions so heavily that an entire segment of the population hears of things like health care “death panels,” Obama not being a U.S. citizen and climate change being a hoax and takes them as articles of faith – not because they’re stupid but because the echo chamber is so effective at making such things seem like a common thing that everyone “just knows.”
Normal, intelligent people watch this stuff, and believe it, and that’s scary. I spoke to my brother on the phone recently and asked what he was doing.
“Watching Glenn Beck.”
“Oh, Pat,” I said, “Don’t watch him. He’s evil.”
He just laughed and repeated what I’d said to his wife. I have no idea if my brother watches this purveyor of mainstream right-wing extremism seriously or just as the carnival sideshow he is; I let it drop, knowing that my relationships with family are better off when politics are avoided. But still …
The reasons behind why Fox is such an awful, irresponsible media outlet are many and varied – so much so that entire organizations like Media Matters for America, News Hounds and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting exist to follow Fox and call out its many transgressions. If you do watch Fox, at least recognize that the channel deliberate crafts stories to maximize conservative outrage, and that if you’re cheering on millionaire vipers (they are not journalists) like Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Beck, you’re being heavily manipulated – to the detriment of your country as it relates to the public’s understanding of factual current events.
True, folks like Keith Olbermann on MSNBC and a few others shout their version of things from the other side, but they don’t come close to Fox’s cynicism and willingness to dupe the American public – all while raking in big bucks as payment for their nefarious efforts.
Turn it off, for America!
A related resolution comes from unplugging in general. Here in Summit County we’re more likely to hit the hill or the gym in our time off, but we’re still slaves to e-mail, “smart” phones and incessant web surfing. This stuff follows us around 24/7, invading our dreams, breaking up our thoughts and interrupting conversations. My teen daughter’s text-message alert has become as much a part of who she is as the sound of her voice. Do we really need this? Can we turn away – even for a few hours a day? The answer has got to be “yes.”
Finally, I’d add one pretty simple thing that may not be part of you’re here-and-now but which is easier than you think: Help, volunteer, donate time or money locally in 2011. This economic morass is far from over, and many of our friends and neighbors are suffering while our nonprofits are struggling to keep up. Even small contributions are meaningful, and it can be for whatever type of organization you’re comfortable with: social services, education, the arts, health care. – or an umbrella organization such as our fabulous Summit Foundation.
Oh, and one more thing I know I really need to focus on: Enjoy what you’ve got and quit worrying so much. Easier said than done, but worrying never solved much of anything. Action, on the other hand …
Happy New Year, Summit County!
Summit Daily editor Alex Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 668-4618.
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