Making Sense of Fox News' Common Freakout

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

You can almost pinpoint the moment yesterday when Fox News swung into action and threw its collective weight behind the right-wing freakout over the fact that the Chicago rapper known as Common has been invited to a White House poetry event. And once Fox News decided to hype the story, its anchors and programs were instantly onboard. (That's what talking points are for, right?)

That's how it works at Fox News. Once the decision has been made a fight a certain political battle (notice that journalism does not enter the equation), the whole team is expected to take up arms. So today, Fox News has decided that one of the most pressing issues facing America is that a rapper is scheduled to visit the White House.

But here's why it's happening. And here's why Fox News is always launching these kinds of pointless declarations of war; declarations that revolve around the phony premise that the American way of life is under attack.

Remember what the former Fox News insider told Media Matters earlier this year about the incessant need within the cable channel to manufacture us-against-them stories of cultural combat? [Emphasis added]:

"It was a kick ass mentality too," says the former Fox News insider. "It was relentless and it never went away. If one controversy faded, goddamn it they would find another one. They were in search of these points of friction real or imagined. And most of them were imagined or fabricated. You always have to seem to be under siege. You always have to seem like your values are under attack. The brain trust just knew instinctively which stories to do, like the War on Christmas."

It's a programming maneuver, plain and simple. Keep that in mind as Fox continues its Common freakout this week.

Fox News Channel
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