I can’t stand Fox News. I’m actually thrilled that my cable package doesn’t include it, but even if it did I wouldn’t be tuning in.
And I say that as a truly conservative, Christian, white guy.
Yes, I’m a white, conservative, evangelical Christian who doesn’t watch (or even like) Fox News.
How’s that for breaking the identity paradigm?
Though, to be fair, I don’t really watch cable news much at all. If there is a major news story or election coverage to watch, I’ll tune into CNN. Otherwise, cable news isn’t on the menu.
There is something rotten in cable news (particularly Fox and MSNBC) that frankly offends me as a former journalist. Most of the people on cable news aren’t really journalists in my opinion. They’re editorial talking heads. They’re not even trying to be objective, and they’re certainly not trying to help viewers grasp the nuances of complex issues.
Cable news isn’t structured for that purpose. It’s about structured around ratings and drawing out emotion.
When I hear people blaming “the media” for our nation’s ills, or when I hear President Trump declare “the media” as the enemy of the people, I translate “the media” to mean “cable news.” Those criticisms aren’t being lodged against copy editors in Baton Rouge or beat reporters in Greenville or photo journalists in Tucson.
Those true journalists leave their ideologies at home. Their only agenda is uncovering the truth and telling real, meaningful stories. The agenda of cable news is crafting a version of a truth that the audience wants to hear, wrapped in an entertaining package.
Fox News might be the worst at this, though the other networks have their moments. Although I cringe at Fox News’ attempt to label itself fair and balanced, I do believe its existence helps keep cable news as an entity fair and balanced. It’s no secret that the news media tilts left, and there needs to be a check on that in order for some stories and perspectives that need to be heard to break through.
So even if Fox News serves a purpose, what I really can’t stand about it is that it has come to embody conservatism and even religious conservatism, when it really doesn’t. If anything, it’s become an idol for evangelicals (or at least those who identify as evangelicals, but that’s for another post).
Fox News represents the quest for worldly power. It masks fear-mongering with a posture of “we’re looking out for you.” It feeds our worst impulses as human beings, rather than drawing out our best fruits of the spirit as Christians.
As Paul wrote to Timothy, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
Christians who place their hope in and receive their marching orders from a profit-seeking, biased media organization are completely missing the point. Christ has already supplied all the power that we require. He has taken away any need for fear. He has modeled for us the kind of love we are to share the self-discipline we are to employ.
So not only have Christians who fully embrace and rely on Fox News missed the real thing, they’ve also poisoned the well for so many non-Christians who associate our faith with the worst characteristics of the cable network.
Instead of being known for who we worship and the sacrificial service we provide in our communities and around the world, we’re known for toeing the line on Fox News talking points. That’s a huge problem, and one that is not easily overcome. There is certainly a prescription that includes weaning off the cable news and increasing acts of service and love, but it will take time.
For now, I’ll continue avoid Fox News and most cable news in general, focusing my consumption on a balanced menu of news and commentary websites on both ends of the political spectrum, supplemented with some key Twitter accounts and YouTube channels.
That’s a better way to stay fair and balanced.