Friday, July 01, 2011

Bye Bye Beck: Whew! Fox's Worst Is Gone, But It's Still Fox

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Glenn Beck's finale yesterday was pretty much what you'd expect: lotsa fond remembrances, beginning with Beck's own version of his "greatest hits" (we much prefer our version,, but you can't please everyone) and wrapping up with a few moments' preachiness and a list of credits on a chalkboard.

Of course, we've already given our thoughts on his exodus, and what more can you say that hasn't already been said -- and said well -- over at Media Matters?

Now, of course, the anticipation will be about seeing how Fox fills his time slot. Will Eric Bolling's months-long audition as someone nuttier and nastier than Glenn Beck finally pan out? Or will Ailes & Co. try to tone it down a bit?

Which only raises the more important point: Beck's show was only the worst of many awful things on Fox. Ultimately far more noxious -- and damaging to democratic discourse -- is the relentless lying and propagandizing that now permeates nearly every corner of the Fox News operation (Shep Smith's show being the lone possible exception).

Beck was especially bad because he so effortlessly transmitted far-right extremist ideas into the mainstream, and on such a massive level. But it still happens elsewhere on Fox. And one of the major effects of these kinds of transmissions -- to alienate ordinary people from factual reality, creating a kind of wedge with the real world, thus priming many of them, particularly those with mental illnesses or violent instabilities, for acting out in extreme and often violent ways -- in fact is also present with "newscasts" that deliberately falsify and distort. Disinformation can radicalize people as surely as conspiracy theories.

That's still very much ongoing at Fox. Beck may be gone, but the beat goes on. And so does the work of people keeping an eye on it.

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