On Glenn Beck and Global Warming and the Danger of Fox News

I am so glad Glenn Beck is off the air. That man was an absolute cancer to American politics. The irresponsibility of his claim there was no evidence of global warming has set back the movement to help heal our planet for years (I won’t even touch on his negative influence on controlling Wall Street). I started getting clued in on his negative influence when a very close friend and I had a heated debate about global warming. As a faithful watcher and listener of Glenn Beck, he just spouted back what Beck said: There was no evidence of global warming. I was amazed by that claim, after having read scientific evidence to the contrary! My friend challenged me to provide evidence right then and there – and as we were on the phone, he knew it wasn’t possible. In any case, he was so firm in his position, that nothing I said would make him even consider the possibility.

It completely amazed me that my friend, whom I believed to be reasonable could be utterly and complete brainwashed by a known “shock jock” who was hired by Fox News Channel simply to incite the angst and anger of people. Way to go Fox, mission accomplished! You managed to drive a wedge into US politics where we’ll be cleaning up the mess for years to come, as this article from the Huffington Post relates.

I read that article last year and wanted to throw it into the face of my friend; tell him that his devotion to this wacko was dangerous, and that following the advice of someone who didn’t even believe this stuff he was saying would simply create a greater divide between conservatives and liberals. Okay, deep breath… Circling back to the issue of global warming, what really set me on the edge was what that article said about Glenn Beck’s personal position on global warming vs. what he actually said on his show,

Let’s take the example of climate change. There was a time when mainstream Republicans like John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Tim Pawlenty thought that man-made climate change was a real problem and that government had a role in fixing it. Then Beck and friends on Fox News Channel and talk radio in went to work. Beck’s role in all this is remarkably cynical, as he told USA Today Weekend that he personally believed in climate change — “you’d have to be an idiot not to notice the temperature change,” he said — but said the complete opposite on the air. “Americans know this global warming thing is a scam,” he proclaimed on the radio.

When I read that, I just about screamed out in rage! Here was a man who single-handedly defeated any kind of measure to control a serious problem by getting his listeners and viewers to follow what he said on his shows and put pressure on their representatives such that Republicans who were once in favor of global warming legislation completely turned their backs on it!

Months ago a study was released that Fox News viewers were less informed than those who don’t watch the news. I don’t think it suggests anything about their level of intelligence, but to me, it suggests that Fox News isn’t really focused on news, but on commentary and opinion on a a narrow set of issues that they know will incite the anger of their viewers. Rather amazing, but I believe the net effect coming from this type of “journalism” is that it has completely changed the face of American politics from open debate on issues to arguing on whose ideology is better. Throughout history, we’ve seen what governance through ideology gets us: pre-WWII Germany and Russia.

The thing that is very frightening to me is the Republican fixation on ideology. It is turning people who I have known to be great debaters and political conversationalists – such as my close friend whom I mentioned above – into ideologues. No longer do they try to get their news from a variety of sources; no, they get their news from sources that simply fit their ideology. Worse yet, they’re unabashed about regurgitating everything they read.

Another person whom I know well is particularly prolific at ideological regurgitation. I used to have a lot of respect for him, as he is a very successful attorney, and one with whom I used to have intelligent conversations on various issues. But now, he has been reduced to yet another Obama-hater, using Facebook to post link after link on why “Obama is this…” or why “Obama is that…” What a waste of a brain.

You’ve got to hand it to Fox and their ilk: They’re powerful enough to sway people – super-smart people – away from intelligent and respectful debate. But that’s where the danger lies. If we allow emotion – especially anger – affect our thinking, we’ll never come together as a country. But this seems to be Fox’s goal. Appeal to the angst and you can get millions to move. Fox gets ratings that drives in revenue. But the losers are the people. It’s saddening to see what’s unfolding before our very eyes.

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