The FOX effect on the Republican mind is beyond dispute. Now Fred Hobbs, a former state representative and a member of Tennessee's Democratic Executive Committee, provides a chilling example of what FOX's powerful propaganda techniques can do to the minds of Democrats.
In the June 13 issue of the City Paper, Hobbs was asked why Democratic superdelegate Congressman Lincoln Davis (D-Pall Mall) was reluctant to endorse Barack Obama. Hobbs said this:
Maybe [it's] the same reason I don't want to -- I don't exactly approve of a lot of the things he stands for and I'm not sure we know enough about him. He's got some bad connections, and he may be terrorist connected for all I can tell. It sounds kind of like he may be.
Of course, there's absolutely no proof of this, and Hobbs was appropriately criticized for this statement. But in a recent letter of apology to the Tennessee Democratic Executive Committee, Hobbs revealed how he had gotten it so wrong:
I was not as well prepared as I should have been when speaking with reporters, and I should have taken more time to research Senator Obama's positions. My comments did reflect questions I had after what I had seen reported on FOX News, but I should have taken some time to check the accuracy of what I saw on television before speaking publicly. My statement that Senator Obama "may be terrorist-connected" was incorrect, and I apologize for making it.
There it is.
FOX's powers of misinformation are so powerful and insidious that they could even cause a prominent member of Tennessee's Democratic party to believe that Obama might have ties to terrorism. If this is what FOX's lies can do to committed Democrats, imagine what it does to the minds of Republicans and Independents. And those people probably share what they've "learned" from FOX with friends, family, and coworkers.
And if you watch FOX's coverage of Hobbs' initial comments, notice how Brett Baier makes no mention of the fact that Obama does not have connections to terrorists. My guess is that you'll also hear a deafening silence from FOX now that Hobbs has identified FOX as the source of his misinformation. This rumor of Obama's alleged terrorist connections didn't come from some shady anonymous mass email -- it came from FOX. At least that's where Hobbs heard about it. My guess is that he heard this claim so many times from so many people on FOX and said with such conviction that he could not believe that they would all be lying. But he was wrong. He believed the lies, amplified them, and now it may even lead to his resignation.
A while back, I wrote about the many reasons why Barack Obama should not go on FOX. Aside from the fact that FOX is simply the Republicans' propaganda outlet and not an actual news organization, another big reason is that FOX viewers are primarily conservative Republicans who vote overwhelmingly for Republicans, evidenced by the incredibly lopsided percentage of FOX viewers who voted for George W. Bush (88%) over John Kerry (7%) in 2004.
Some would respond by saying, "What about Democrats who watch FOX? Shouldn't Obama be reaching out to them?" I couldn't believe that any Democrat would watch FOX unless they enjoyed being demonized, but Hobbs proved me wrong. Maybe there are some Democrats out there who watch FOX -- but watching FOX makes Democrats think like Republicans.
I'd say put another nail in the coffin of the claim that FOX is "fair and balanced," but that casket got buried a long, long time ago.