Elizabeth Warren Refuses To Feed The Fox Beast. If Only We All Did

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. (John Minchillo/AP)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. (John Minchillo/AP)

I appeared on Fox News once, many years ago. I had publicly resigned from my position as an adjunct professor at Boston College, because I found the administration’s decision to award then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice an honorary degree despicable. This position, naturally, brought me to the attention of Sean Hannity’s producers.

I was promised a 15-minute segment on "Hannity & Colmes," which I figured would afford me the chance to discuss Rice’s role in promoting the misinformation that led to our disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq. I told myself that delivering this message to Fox viewers was especially important, because what they usually heard was the Bush company line.

If you want to see how that bright idea went, you can read the transcript. Be warned: The entire segment is 6 minutes, and I am allowed to speak for a grand total of 1. The rest of the time Sean Hannity yells at me. The moment I start to push back, the segment comes to a crashing halt.

I mention all this by way of praising our senator-turned-presidential-candidate Elizabeth Warren for flatly refusing to appear on a Fox News town hall.

Of course, Warren would be granted more than a minute to make her case on the network. And other Democratic candidates, most prominently Bernie Sanders, have made compelling cases for their policies, to viewers who are more accustomed to hearing his name invoked during paranoid rants about socialism.

But Warren’s decision to boycott Fox isn’t predicated on her personal strategy as a candidate. Her concern is broader and more profound. As she noted on Twitter:

Fox News is a hate-for-profit racket that gives a megaphone to racist and conspiracists. It’s designed to turn us against each other, risking life and death consequences, to provide cover for the corruption that’s rotting our government and hollowing out our middle class.

Warren recognizes that larger game here. The central reason Fox invites Democratic candidates to appear isn’t to expose Fox viewers to new ideas or policies, but as a corporate ploy to keep advertisers from bailing on their increasingly unhinged propaganda.

As with any dose of principled common sense, Warren’s stand immediately offended the pundit class, whose profession requires them to rank the pursuit of ratings above the pursuit of democratic ideals.

Whoopi Goldberg, one among the gaggle of deep thinkers on "The View," offered a typically brainless hot take: "You know what, if you can’t face a Fox audience, you can’t face the U.S. — it’s that simple."

Equating the Fox audience to the rest of the country is an insult to those of us who accept the verified scientific reality of climate change ...

You know what, Whoopi Goldberg? Fox pulls in an average of about 3 million viewers, or 1% of our total population, and that core audience happens to be the most ideologically intransigent viewership in America. Its viewers are also among the most misinformed in America.

Equating the Fox audience to the rest of the country is an insult to those of us who accept the verified scientific reality of climate change, and who don’t accept verified nonsense such as death panels, or that George Soros funded that paramilitary caravan of Central American migrants or that President Obama was a Muslim, any of the other racist fantasies Fox spins nightly into gold.

There’s a reason our in grifter-in-chief will only sit down for interviews with Fox: because it’s the only network this side of Infowars that provides him a safe space for his pathetic, fact-free fearmongering. We now have a president who spends more time watching "Fox & Friends" than reading his national security briefings. (Someone might want to check with Whoopi to see how she feels about that.)

Despite occasional public spats, Trump and Fox are, at this point, the co-leaders of the GOP, which functions less as a political party these days and more as a cult of white victimization, a cult in which anyone like Warren, with real policy proposals intended to help Americans, is derided as an elitist or a socialist or, if they happen to be a woman, a nag.

Warren’s decision to snub the network won’t bring down Fox News. That will only happen when its aging viewership is no longer around to be hypnotized by hate. In the meantime, she doesn’t have to feed the beast.

Neither do the rest of us.

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Headshot of Steve Almond

Steve Almond Cognoscenti contributor
Steve Almond is the author of 12 books. His new book, “Truth Is the Arrow, Mercy Is the Bow,” is about craft, inspiration and the struggle to write.



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