Yesterday I heard POTUS's Pete Dominick ask his satellite radio listeners an interesting question: What's the weird unfactual stuff many liberals believe that is equivalent to conservative lunacies like Obama being a Muslim?
Dominick observed that a majority of Republican voters in Mississippi think President Obama is Muslim rather than Christian. That's crazy!
So he asked conservatives to call in and give him examples of what lots of liberals/progressives believe that is similarly wildly unfactual. I listened for quite a while as I was driving around. The answer: nothing.
A few people cited "Bush was responsible for the 9/11 attacks." But Dominick correctly pointed out that this isn't a widespread liberal belief. I've never heard progressives at a campaign rally yell this out, like Tea Party types do with Obama is a Muslim!
Yes, there are people with crazy ideas on both sides of the political spectrum.
Yet I can't think of any reality-denying fantasy on the left that is anywhere near as fact-challenged, and as widely held, as the conservative denial of human-caused global warming. Or the cries about Affordable Care Act "death panels."
My wife and I never get bizarre emails filled with wacko lies about Republican politicians or conservative policies. Regularly, though, people forward us emails that are flying around cyberspace which contain blatant untruths about Obama and Democratic initiatives.
A large part of the reason for this seems to be the influence of Fox News on conservative brains. On a recent Point of Inquiry podcast, I heard Ari Rabin-Havt, Media Matters executive vice-president, talk about his book, "The Fox Effect: How Roger Ailes Turned a Network Into a Propaganda Machine."
Have a listen. Here's how Point of Inquiry summarized the interview.
If there's one thing Point of Inquiry is concerned about, it's ensuring a rational, sensible conversation in politics, in public life. And you simply can't have such a conversation if the culture is awash in political, and politicized, misinformation.
What do we mean by "misinformation"? The denial of global warming. Claims about "death panels." Assertions that the President of the United States wasn't actually born here.
One thing all these falsehoods have in common is that if you watch Fox News, you're more likely to believe them. Fox increases your risk, so to speak, of believing factually wrong things to support a political agenda. With other networks, this "Fox effect" just isn't there.
How did it get this way? How did one leading network become a fount of misinformation?
For that, we turn to the most dedicated Fox monitors of them all—Media Matters. They've got a new book out on Fox, and I've invited their Executive Vice President, Ari Rabin-Havt, on to talk about it.
Yes, watching Fox News is dangerous to your knowledge of reality. People who don't watch TV news at all are better informed about political issues than those who watch Fox.