Hannity and Carlson Admit Lying to Audience (Then Try to Fire Fact-Checker) and DeSantis Hires Sexist Educator
NYT Writers Protest, Roald Dahl Gets Sanitized, Roberto Clemente Bio Banned, and More
The Game Show The Traitors Is the Most Frightening Post-Apocalyptic Series on TV
The most frightening apocalyptic show on television right now isn’t The Last of Us—it’s The Traitors, a reality game show that is a variation of the popular parlor game Mafia. Three of the group are designated traitors while the rest are called the faithful. Every night the traitors secretly eliminate one of the faithful, and the surviving faithful vote out who they think are traitors.
None of that is the least bit frightening.
What is absolutely terrifying is listening to the faithful spew their “reasoning” for whom they vote out of the game and whom they trust. They are all almost always wrong in both. Granted, there is little hard evidence to go on, yet they charge ahead with absolute confidence that they are right. And much indignation and malice at anyone who suggests they aren’t.
Mostly, the faithful target people with whom they have personality clashes, then try to justify their petty grudges using some very lame, middle-school reasoning. Despite repeatedly being wrong (I mean, REPEATEDLY), the faithful proudly brag about using their heart and guts. To them, making decisions based on heart and guts rather than reason is a good thing, despite its ineffectiveness, and they endlessly boast about it.
Whenever one of them actually uses logic to cast suspicion on an undercover traitor, the traitors manipulate everyone else to vote that person out. To see how easily people are led around by their “hearts and guts” is pretty disturbing. It brings me back to the famous line from Nick Hornby’s wonderful novel, High Fidelity: “I've been thinking with my guts since I was fourteen years old, and frankly speaking, between you and me, I have come to the conclusion that my guts have shit for brains.”
This microcosm of human reasoning reflects the typical way most of us think, forming opinions based on little information but lots of personal biases, then stubbornly and righteously defending those positions— even when new information contradicts it. Worse, it reveals the mob mentality of ganging up on those who disagree with us, even when they offer solid reasoning.
But the show’s illumination of flawed human decision-making doesn’t stop there. The ending of the show strips bare the mantra of all villains of reality shows with cash prizes: “I’m doing it for my family. Sniff. Sniff.” This virtue-signaling is meant to excuse every greedy backstabbing move. I’d prefer it if they just played the game to win without having to elevate themselves as noble saints in disguise. In fact, the winner of The Traitors made the same teary claim even as they unnecessarily betrayed another player in order to take their money.
Yes, it’s just a reality game show, but it is also a frightening demonstration of how people form ill-informed opinions, rationalize those opinions, and become hostile mobs to defend those dumb opinions—all the while being manipulated and betrayed by those they trust. Worst of all, no one learned from their mistakes, which made them easy to take down. Just mention “heart” and “family” and you can persuade most people of anything.
Media: To No One’s Surprise
Fox Stars Privately Expressed Disbelief About Election Fraud Claims. ‘Crazy Stuff.’ (The New York Times)
SUMMARY: “Newly disclosed messages and testimony from some of the biggest stars and most senior executives at Fox News revealed that they privately expressed disbelief about President Donald J. Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him, even though the network continued to promote many of those lies on the air.
“The hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, as well as others at the company, repeatedly insulted and mocked Trump advisers, including Sidney Powell and Rudolph W. Giuliani, in text messages with each other in the weeks after the election, according to a legal filing on Thursday by Dominion Voting Systems. Dominion is suing Fox for defamation in a case that poses considerable financial and reputational risk for the country’s most-watched cable news network.
“‘Sidney Powell is lying by the way. I caught her. It’s insane,’ Mr. Carlson wrote to Ms. Ingraham on Nov. 18, 2020.
“Ms. Ingraham responded: ‘Sidney is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy.’
“…Fox News stunned the Trump campaign on election night by becoming the first news outlet to declare Joseph R. Biden Jr. the winner of Arizona — effectively projecting that he would become the next president. Then, as Fox’s ratings fell sharply after the election and the president refused to concede, many of the network’s most popular hosts and shows began promoting outlandish claims of a far-reaching voter fraud conspiracy involving Dominion machines to deny Mr. Trump a second term.”
MY TAKE: The scariest part of this story isn’t that Fox consistently lied. Their twisting of the news into a soggy spit-wad of misinformation has been proven over and over again. What’s scary is the last paragraph of the above summary: when Fox actually reported something accurately, viewers didn’t like the truth and left, forcing a ratings crisis. Their core viewers made their wishes known: whisper sweet nothings in my ear or we’ll find another news gigolo.
The numerous quotes from Fox’s most popular personalities reveals an all-out panic and desperation at damage control. They were so frightened that when their colleague, White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich, tweeted a fact check of Trump’s election lies, they wanted her gone. “Please get her fired,” Carlson told Hannity. “Seriously What the f**k? I’m actually shocked. It needs to stop immediately, like tonight. It’s measurably hurting the company. The stock price is down. Not a joke.”
Fair and balanced—depending on stock prices.
New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman gives an apt description of Fox News: “We all sort of knew the truth about Fox, but now there can be no doubt: Fox News is to journalism what the Mafia is to capitalism — same basic genre, but a morally corrupt perversion of the real thing.”
So, with the lack of journalistic integrity they so often have demonstrated, Fox pimped itself out again by supporting kooks and liars that undermined democracy, all so they could woo back the coveted audience that demands to be assured the unvarnished truthiness that the kids today have no respect for traditional conservative values like racism, misogyny, and insurrection. Don’t worry, Fox will service your needs—for a price.
ALSO READ: “Why Fox News Lied to Its Viewers” (The Atlantic); “How Dominion Voting Systems filing proves Fox News was ‘deliberately lying’” (The Guardian); “Fox News texts reveal the truth: The Big Lie was a con — that the viewers were in on” (Salon); “Analysis: Fox News has been exposed as a dishonest organization terrified of its own audience” (CNN)