A Commentary on the January 6th Hearings, Fox News, Facts, Integrity & American Elections

This combines two posts that I ran this week directly on Facebook on Thursday, July 21 and Friday, July 22.

Thursday

I find it “interesting,” though hardly surprising, that Fox News isn’t carrying tonight’s January 6th hearing. Instead Hannity was on with talking heads condemning the hearing and everything being said there. Which is fine. Fox can and should present its perspective.

But the fact that Fox steers its viewers away from even seeing the hearing speaks volumes. Afterwards, if they wish, Fox could talk for days condemning it. By blacking out the hearing, Fox reveals what little regard it has for its viewers. They can’t be left to draw their own conclusions; they have to be spoon fed a political line.

This is hardly the first time, but Fox has revealed its true character: it’s a propaganda instrument. And that’s OK. Nothing wrong with propaganda — but please don’t call it news.

Friday

Continuing on my thoughts from last night about Fox News…

Fox is clearly pushing an ideological line. I defend its right to do so, but I question the integrity of its methods in blacking out the January 6th hearing.

Screenshot from MSNBC

Last night I watched the hearing on MSNBC, which like Fox presses its own ideological perspective or bias. The difference is that MSNBC aired the hearing itself. During breaks, though, Rachel Maddow and others hammered away and they even put a QR code on screen so viewers could follow a blog in real time as the hearing proceeded. I suppose C-SPAN or YouTube might have been the “purest” places to watch, free of peoples’ interpretation.

Frankly I don’t think there really is such a thing as unbiased news. Even the oldest and most respected news organizations have unspoken biases — like the belief that capitalism is the highest form of human society or the US. is the freest and most democratic nation. Everything they see and report is filtered accordingly. We maybe don’t perceive it as bias because these views are so “normal” and pervasive.

I think what distinguishes all the controversy these days is a total departure from facts. The side represented by Fox asserts things that are demonstrably untrue. And those leading the charge know it. Sidney Powell, defending herself in Dominion’s defamation case, said “No reasonable person would conclude that the statements were truly statements of fact.” Rudy Giuliani admitted to the Arizona House Speaker that “We’ve got lots of theories. We just don’t have the evidence.” They failed 60 times in court, even before conservative judges that Trump appointed, and in multiple recounts even when conducted by handpicked outfits like Cyber Ninjas. (Amusingly, Cyber Ninjas found a few additional votes for Biden that had been missed.)

There are facts and there are facts. It’s one thing to argue nonsense and lies, which Fox, Trump and their allies do. But proven facts often don’t necessarily settle matters. Facts need be interpreted. What do the facts mean? How did they come to be? What do they tell us about reality now? What, if anything, should we do about it?

This is the basis of legitimate debate and discussion. Verifiable facts might tell me one thing and tell you another. We can each interpret genuine facts quite differently, and then debate. But if your argument, or mine, rests on a conviction the Moon is made of green cheese, we’re at an impasse. No legitimate discussion is possible.

Finally a few words about elections and ‘The Steal.’ I do not believe we have free and fair elections in this country, but the problem is not what Trump is asserting. The mechanics of our elections are sound. The collection of votes including absentee, drop boxes, and in-person at polling booths is fine. Counting is also good. Like any human activity, errors occur and a certain level of fraud does also — but not enough to change the results. And if there’s doubt, there are procedures to contest and recount. To that end, Trump was entitled to press his case in those 60-odd court cases. But then the matter is settled!

I think gerrymandering, even though sanctioned by SCOTUS, is a big problem but I won’t address that here.

Where I don’t think our elections are free and fair is because of limitations on access to the ballot. The system is slanted to favor the two major parties, the Democrats and Republicans. Third parties have to leap huge and often impossible hurdles to get placed on the ballot. They face enormous petitioning requirements, and even if they succeed in getting a spot on the ballot many times their party name cannot appear. Someone will be listed as simply “Independent.” This makes it nearly impossible for third party candidates to be recognized and build a following — which is precisely the point of these hurdles. Those in power, Democrat and Republican, want to ensure they are the only game in town.

The media plays right into this. Third party candidates may get a token article or two in the paper, or a 2-minute report on the news, but otherwise 99.99% of coverage is devoted solely to the Democrats and Republicans.

These ballot restrictions I’m describing are verifiable facts. But getting to my point about facts above, we can now debate whether these restrictions are justified and serve a positive purpose. Some will argue we need these restrictions to avoid bloated ballots filled with trivial candidates who aren’t really serious. It’s a fair argument.

I take the position that these restrictions are intended to ensure that power remains strictly with the two parties and the wealthy interests they represent. I think these restrictions defeat true democracy by effectively reducing the Democratic and Republican parties to mere factions of a single party. As a result, I believe what we really have in the United States therefore is a de facto one party system of the rich.

Title image is a screenshot from the official YouTube channel of the January 6th Committee. All comments are welcome. I only ask that we remain civil and respectful of one another. If you clicked over from Facebook, please comment here rather than back there.

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