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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Newport war college prof calls out Fox News

Fox News is an addictive drug for paranoid elders

Related imageTom Nichols, a conservative professor at the Naval War College in Newport, RI, broke with many of his ideological brethren in 2016 when he refused to vote for Donald Trump.

Since then, he’s taken a more critical eye not just toward Trump himself, but also toward the right-wing media ecosystem that made Trump’s presidency possible.

The most powerful right-wing media platform, of course, is Fox News — and Nichols recently posted a lengthy Twitter thread explaining how the conservative news network serves as an addictive drug for elderly Americans who are frightened about the pace of change in the United States.

“I had a convo recently with someone whose father is completely addicted to Fox,” writes Nichols. “I think it provides old people with a vessel for expressing rage about the world changing in ways they can’t control, and puts names on what would otherwise be ‘just the way the world is.'”

Nichols in particular notes how Fox makes its elderly viewers feel more comfortable by, paradoxically, filling them with paranoid delusions. This works, he says, because they feel safer believing that there’s a single, malign force that is behind changes to society that they don’t like, rather than simply a gradual evolution of cultural mores.

Nichols concludes by saying that while he sympathizes with older people being dismayed by watching the world change so quickly, he doesn’t think it’s good for them or anyone else to have a network that specializes in pumping them full of fear 24 hours a day.

“It’s tough to be old,” he writes. “I’ve watched my father and my relatives pass on. I get it. But constant rage isn’t going to help anyone live longer. And from 7pm to mid-afternoon the next day, every day, Fox is pure, stupid, unvarnished rage for the old and the ignorant.”