Viewing Obama’s victory on television was eye opening because it showed how much I’ve let the birthers, Tea Partiers, and 1% define my reality. On Tuesday night I watched Fox News because that is who I wanted to narrate my election returns. Call me a masochist. I couldn’t find the Fox station – a funny commentary on my news viewing habits, since I have no problems finding the channel for other shows. I settled on MSNBC. Love that Rachel.
I never doubted that Romney would prevail because I’m that jaded. I lost hope early in this election. At 10:00ish on election night, I was explaining to my housemate how there was no way Obama could win even though it appeared he was in the lead with the electoral college. As newscasters called state after state, I had Bush/Gore flashbacks. It ain’t over until the Supreme Court sings after weeks of recounts and court battles. I asserted that Obama might squeak by, but certainly not with any sweeping victory. By 10:30, my Facebook friends went to bed, thereby missing Romney’s refusal to concede and Obama’s brilliant 2:00 AM victory speech. Where was THAT Obama for the past three years? By midnight, I figured I was in for a penny…and I wanted to hear the concession and victory speeches.
Since then I’ve heard all about how Fox News people were flabbergasted over Obama’s victory and Rove was in denial. Also, Obama transformed from “winning the electoral college but losing the popular vote” to actually “winning the popular vote with a comfortable margin.” In retrospect, the election was called with the entire liberal west coast yet to be counted, so who got the popular vote was a no brainer.
I wanted to see what all the fuss over Fox was about for myself so I watched a Youtube clip of the ten minutes in which they had to accept (announce…) Obama’s victory. It occurred to me that, like the far right, I spent the past year living in the Fox protective bubble of denial. I succumbed to their pundit-created world. They had been framing my narrative. Twenty years ago, when one of my professors told me that the white male political agenda was going the way of the dodo, I couldn’t envision it, but that time has truly arrived. And in my own lifetime, no less! Nonetheless, Fox pulled the wool over my eyes. In watching the clip, I thought that if I watched Fox during the actual election returns instead of a couple of days later, I might have genuinely believed that Romney had a chance down to the wire, when clearly he didn’t. I might have genuinely believed that Obama could have won only the electoral college and not the popular vote, when clearly the next day he earned a comfortable margin in the popular vote too.
The stunning question here, and it’s truly quite stunning, is how did I let this happen? I am a college teacher, and I let Fox bully me and yell at me. If that’s the case, what hope is there for people who don’t bother to question, read, or fact-check? My glass-half-empty cynicism doesn’t account for my utter inability to step outside the media echo chamber, and I don’t even pay much attention to the news except what people share on Facebook. That says something about filters and screens. It says something about biases and attributions. The power of Fox’s megaphone agenda-setting is frightening; it’s so loud that it managed to yell at me through my earmuffs of bias and selective rejection.