Updated: Aug 15
It was in August of 2014 and I was lounging on the couch soaking in the news. The story of the day on my go-to channel, MSNBC, was the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson Missouri.
The news people at MSNBC were unabashedly intimating that this young man, Brown, 18 years old, soon to be on his way to college, had been mown down, murdered by a maverick policeman. Before he was shot a witness report claimed Brown held his hands up in a don't shoot gesture to the policeman who had been investigating a crime which occurred in the neighborhood. Grave tones and heads shook by MSNBC newspersons crying, How could this happen?
The pontificators implied a racist trend was now about in the land. They brought up the shooting death of another black man,Trayvon Martin, in 2012. President Obama had said then, “If I had a son he would look like Trayvon.”
I stretched and inadvertently mispunched my TV remote and found myself watching Sean Hannity on FOX. When this happened before, I'd always hurriedly switched back to MSNBC or CNN, feeling I’d violated some liberal protocol of never-watch-FOX. That day though I stayed fixed.
A video on FOX showed Brown, this model would-be-college student, strong arm robbing a store owner the same day of the shooting. That had me asking, what kind of man robs another then is portrayed as a model citizen all in the same day. And why is only one news source commenting on it?
Hannity and other FOX broadcasters said, despite the video, let's not rush to judgment about what happened until an investigation happens. I switched back to my comfort zone at MSNBC.
Surely they’d comment on some aspect of the robbery. Nada. But grave tones and bowed heads there continued intimating that a policeman had unjustly killed a black man. And they claimed that behavior is typical in America and for an unwieldy law enforcement population who trolls the streets hoping to shoot down black men.
And so it went for weeks thereafter. An investigation finally showed that the witness claiming Michael Brown had his hands up had fabricated the story.
The Ferguson event catapulted a narrative that would soon take hold on the airwaves, college campuses, companies and wedging families and friends apart; the narrative, systemic racism. At its root-FOX and the white man.
With the election of Donald Trump in 2016 heads popped off half the country. How could this be? The country really is racist! Just listen to that man! Many vowed retaliation.
Over the next several years 14 more black men died, who were unarmed and shot by policemen. Except for a minor young man wielding a toy gun, all were allegedly committing a crime.
During the same time period through 2020, 19 white men died unarmed, shot by police, allegedly committing a crime. That stat reported by FOX, was conveniently left out of MSNBC reporting.
Hillaryites, later joined by Bidenites, screamed, hair on fire, that racism was the most pervasive problem in America. Diversity was a buzzword for skin color, but not with diversity of ideas.
The rage brewing, a tipping point came with the death of a man in May 2020, a criminal, drug addict, George Floyd, who refused to be taken into custody and died at the hands of a white police officer who asphyxiated him. Cities burned with little commentary by MSNBC’s tall-hair Joe or sidekick turned wife, Mika. The police officer, who used inappropriate force and was responsible for Floyd’s death was later given a lengthy prison sentence.
As matters seemed to settle down, in the early part of this year, 2023, five black police officers in Memphis stopped a 29 year old black man, pulled him out of his car and proceeded to beat him. He later died from his injuries.
The race baiters said systemic racism was the underlying cause of the man’s death, even though all players in the episode were black. A black academic said, whites have indoctrinated all peoples, even black police officers in how to treat persons of color.
As I said, a funny thing happened to me on my way to watching FOX.
Churchill said, paraphrasing, if you are not a liberal when you are young, you have no heart. If you are not a conservative when you are old, you have no head.
I was no longer young, but a two-time Obama voter.
To help settle my angst about why I’d crossed over to the dark side watching FOX cable, I went to a Florida Atlantic University study that examined over 52,000 MSNBC and Fox transcripts. The study looked at the last three presidential elections, 2012, 2016 and 2020 using linguistic analysis. It found that MSNBC used more innocuous pronouns, such as, It, Its, Our, Them. FOX used more personal pronouns, such as You. Also, MSNBC talked more in the abstract and about ideologies, whereas FOX focused more on the personal.
The sense of this seems to mean: Youth protests about matters of the heart-ideologies.The aged are concerned about matters of the head.
Racism, social justice, and equity are ideologies and heard on MSNBC.
The price of food, rising crime rates and taxes are personal and themes heard on FOX.
This time in history with political thinking, the US population is polarized. True, there are many old people who are dyed-in-the-wool progressives. And there are youthful voters who are ardent conservatives. Neither side respects the other’s viewpoint.
It’s been nine years since that 2014 day when I changed my news viewing preferences. Since then, Democrats have impeached Trump twice. This past week, June 2023, there were rumblings by Republicans to begin impeachment proceedings on President Biden.
I have slowly dumped Fox News over the past months for YouTube channel viewing.
Assessments about persons are generalizations. But it behooves us to understand how our beliefs are shaped and what drives us to watch a particular network.