Only Once – Watch Fox News

22/04/2019

I suppose watching Fox can be seen as worthwhile from an academic point of view. The manipulation and distortion of the public narrative in the media is at its zenith in Murdoch’s conservative halls, and it has interesting to see just how grand an impact it has had on the global population and its perceptions. But if not for academic purposes, I would never recommend the Trump-worshipping channel.

Until now.

Bernie Sanders, that damned Democratic candidate and self-proclaimed socialist, said yes to a Town Hall talk with Fox. A brave move, and one that many people like him probably would have backed away from. The gamble paid off though, quite brilliantly, in Sanders’ favour.

As someone with an interest in international affairs, and a fan of Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, it was great to watch. But I also think it is worthwhile for anyone with even a mild interest in politics, whether international or local. There are many reasons I could list, but the core thread woven through them all is simple: listen to, and work for, the people.

Socialism, communism, capitalism, and countless other -isms are used as buzzwords with hardly any meaning attached to them. Sanders, although he calls himself a democratic socialist, avoids the historical baggage of such phrases by succinctly defining what he means when he says it. He then puts the term aside, saying that nothing he proposes is even slightly radical, and proceeds to focus entirely on issues that matter to the American people.

Healthcare for all. Tuition free college education and getting rid of student debt. A living wage so that the poor and vulnerable can keep food on the table. Clean drinking water. Immigration reform that deals with growing concerns in the US, but that stays away from the violent and offensive rhetoric of an unhinged President. Pulling US troops out of countries they have no need to be in.

None of those things are radical ideas, and, best of all, they are all things that a majority of any population would believe in. The Fox mouthpieces that ran the talk tried their best to derail his positions and catch him with ‘gotcha’ questions, and ultimately failed. The most spectacular was when they asked the audience to raise their hand if they got private healthcare, and then to keep their hand up if they would willingly transition to a public Medicare for all system. Not only did hands stay up, but more joined them with applause.

Fox tried to catch him out on his newfound millionaire status, and he straight up refused to apologise for writing a best-selling book – if he weren’t so old and relatively monotone, the sass was almost tangible. He deflected that criticism – as I explained in my piece yesterday – by saying that he would absolutely oppose Trump’s tax plans, plans that would benefit his newfound wealth.

When they tried to appeal to the fact that he was a Jew and yet supported Omar, he immediately shut them down. He said that while Omar may need to learn about what to say when speaking to certain demographics (personally, I see nothing particularly wrong with what Omar said in relation to AIPAC), but that he did not support the vile comments she has received. He also spoke the phrase many politicians neglect – criticism of a right-wing Israeli government is not anti-Semitic.

On immigration they attempted to rile him up over the plan to send asylum seekers to sanctuary cities, while simultaneously claiming there was no demonisation of immigrants being carried out by them. Sanders rightfully called them out on that lie and proceeded explain his plan to handle the crisis at the US-Mexico border. Absent from his retort, however, was any mention of the US’ imperialist history in Latin America.

Sanders’ greatest deflection was after the two commentators tried to ask him which country he believed was the greatest threat to US’ security– edging towards Russia and China. Not only did he call out the establishment for their hypocrisy – threats of ‘war’ with China while maintaining lucrative trade deals with the country – but he rejected the notion of a single country being a threat. Instead, he took a chance to call on Donald Trump to stop referring to climate change as a hoax.

Yes, on Fox News, Bernie Sanders directed a comment about climate change to the President. He repeated what many scientific bodies have already stated – we have a decade to curb emissions, and we cannot play politics with our environment. If only the morons we call our (Australian) government’s major parties would take such a stance alongside the Greens.

Sanders had little trouble handling his Fox handlers, and so far I have not found a single negative comment online (at least on social media and certain papers) about him. Love or hate his policies, this appearance has earned him the respect of many, including Republicans and some Fox viewers. One can only hope that Sanders’ message and sincerity will change the minds of many who fell for Trump’s similar but false promises.

If you ever willingly watch Fox News, or any Murdoch media, let it be this enlightening (and, to Fox’s credit, unedited) Town Hall talk. I’m pessimistic about the 2020 US election, but there will always be a glimmer of hope when Sanders is in the running.

 

Liked this? Read Outfoxed: A Reflection

Previous piece: Sanders, Socialism, and the Media

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