Monday, November 12, 2012

Fox News leaves Republicans misled, stunned

I met a very nice Republican lady this past Tuesday (election day) and somehow we got to talking about politics—she saw my "I Voted" sticker—and she asked who I thought would win this year's Presidential election. I told her that I didn't know if Barack Obama would carry Virginia, but I felt confident that Barack Obama would win the general election because he would carry Ohio. Mitt Romney had screwed up too badly in Ohio to win there I told her.

She gave me a look like I was crazy. No, no, no, she told me very firmly: Mitt Romney would win Ohio and the Presidential election by a comfortable margin. In the next several minutes—as she interrupted me several times—I explained about Mitt Romney's "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" Op Ed in 2009 and the fact that one out of every eight jobs in Ohio are linked in some way to the automotive industry. I explained to her that it was very difficult for a Republican to win the presidency without carrying Ohio.

Then I told her about Mitt Romney's dishonest Chrysler ad that falsely accused Chrysler of planning to move all Jeep production from Ohio to China. I told I thought the ad had been an enormous blunder in a number of ways. First of all, it was completely false and easily debunked: Chrysler and GM both came out and called the ad false within hours. People don't like it when you lie to them. Then there was the volatility of the story: Romney was threatening peoples' livelihoods with this story about outsourcing; people paid attention—the story was a big deal. Finally, the story, once debunked, refocused attention back on Romney's own record of outsourcing companies to China and reminded people of his "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" Op Ed from 2009.

She became angry and denied that any of this was true. She said that she had never heard any of the story I'd just related. She reiterated that she was certain Mitt Romney would win Ohio and the general election. She was certain that what I had told her were lies from the liberal media and pursued me down the hallway as I tried to walk away, criticizing me for being a liberal.

The next day I encountered the same Republican lady. She was very subdued and she offered a somewhat weak apology for her behavior from the day before, admitting that I had been right about the Ohio story and my predictions about the election. She said that she had called her father and her father had told her that my story was, in fact, true. She then let me know how upset she was that Barack Obama had won re-election.

At this point I interrupted her and asked her where she normally got her news. Her answer: Fox News . . . of course. Like so many Republicans and conservatives suffering from cognitive dissonance, this woman was a devoted watcher of Fox News who refused to consult any other source of news. I reminded her that Fox News often slants coverage and even promotes false narratives. "But I agree with Fox News, I agree with their philosophy," she responded.

"But can't you see that if you don't have information that is complete or even correct you can't make accurate predictions?" She shook her head. "Look, if you've been completely misled about how a series of events are going to play out, well of course you are going to be surprised about the outcome."

She was unconvinced: "I agree with Fox News' philosophy," she said, and we parted. She was sad, and I could only shake my head.

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