What Caring for My Mother Taught Me About Fox News and Right Wing Media
In 2005 I moved cross country to care for my elderly mother, my father had died in 2003 and the time had come for and extra set of eyes on her. My parents were staunch Republicans always voting party never issues. Both had been in the Navy, my father 30 years, my mother ten.
It wasn’t my mothers mind that was receding, it was that her body would no longer heed her requests. A once active woman was now reduced to minimal activity sitting in her old-timey beach chair in the kitchen next to the sliding glass door watching Fox News and commenting on how chilly it was. She did not feel that sitting next to the glass door was the culprit of her chills. I did though.
The sitcoms my mother loved, rerun after rerun, such as Cheers, Becker, Frasier had now been replaced by her constant watching of The Fox News Channel, interspersed with Entertainment Tonight, Inside Hollywood, and the occasional rerun.
The TV was turned to Fox News Channel from morning to night and as most elderly people, not only was she an early riser but also a night owl. She would talk throughout the day with her two best friends of fifty years, also Navy wives. The conversations would rollick and roll about what had just been reported by Fox News, sometimes they would talk on the phone while watching simultaneously.
When we would go out I would put NPR on in the car, but the house was her domain and Fox News ran constantly. After weeks that turned to months I laid my boundary with Fox News in the house. I could no longer sit and have dinner with her if Fox was on. Any other station could be on, but when we sat down to eat, Fox News was off limits. I explained to her that hearing the yelling, name calling, mocking of people who didn’t agree with their point of view was unappetizing. All I could feel while listening to the shrill, bombastic rhetoric blaring from Fox was of a regression back to the schoolyard days of grammar school. I could feel the disgust, the distaste of my earlier years, when I would watch schoolyard boys whose only power was hurtful words and fists. They had nothing of substance to add, only hollow bravado and a wish to be taken seriously.
When I asked about her inclination towards Fox, why she watched it all the time, why her friends watched, her answer surprised me. It made her feel alive inside. The sitcoms had been good, but the laughing wasn’t enough now that she was no longer physically active. The Main Stream Media bored her, there was nothing in it she could sink her teeth into, nothing to get riled up about, nothing to quench her thirst of wanting to feeling alive inside. Except Fox News, with their less than honest truths, over the top fear mongering, and victimization of America. That she could sink her teeth into, that made her feel alive inside. Which is what Fox News and the alt-right media do. From the cleavage baring female commentators on Fox readily giving an eye full to the men at home so they can regurgitate their fantasies from earlier years when they fancied themselves Romeos, to the alt right media and their ridiculous story headings and articles which are slim on actual provable facts but pumped full of steroids to trigger a visceral reaction.
The median age of a primetime Fox News viewer is 68.