Paul Krugman took a plane ride, and was subjected (sound blessedly off) to Newsmax TV (no choice, everyone had to watch it), which he speculates is even more right wing than Fox:
This sort of thing is obviously an important part of the reason we’re living in an age of derp. Events and data may have made nonsense of claims that the Fed’s policies would inevitably produce runaway inflation, and made those insisting on such claims look like fools; but there’s a large audience of people who, pulled in by affinity fraud, live in a bubble where they never hear about such evidence.
I think Paul has it only partly right here. The real issue here is not that “there's a large audience” for right wing propaganda (there may be, but this incident doesn't prove it), but that many of us are subjected to this propaganda against our wills. How many times have you gone into a commercial establishment to find that there is a TV on the wall turned eternally to Fox News. My wife has been engaged for years in a battle with the folks at her gym to get them to stop tuning the televisions there to Fox News. This is not coincidental. It can't be, since the phenomenon is so all pervasive. This sort of bombardment reinforces, for those who pay little attention, the idea that Fox is a legitimate news purveyor. After all, why would Dunkin Donuts show Fox if it were a purveyor of lies. Dunkin' wouldn't do that to us, would it? Inflicting Newsmax on defenseless airplane passengers is just a step more blatant, given that Newsmax does even less than Fox to hide its bias.
Not all of the business that tune into Fox are evil, malevolent, or willfully seeking to propagandize, though many of them are. Many are just following the examples of others. There is an establishment in Groton situated across the road from one of the poorest areas in town. We know the owner quite well. When we took her to task for subjecting us to Fox News (why there's a TV in a deli type establishment at all is another question), she looked totally mystified. She clearly had no idea that it was anything other than a straight news channel because she was totally unengaged politically. To prove that point, she's now displaying a Foley/Somers sign in her window, not, I'm sure, out of any firm political convictions, but because Somers is a hometown girl and she's doing her a favor. To some people, politics is like sports. They have no conception of the fact that it actually matters who gets elected and that taking sides might, in fact, turn customers away. We have let them know we won't be coming back. For myself, it is especially galling that she is displaying a sign for a man who will do his best, if elected, to screw the bulk of her customers, who come from the neighborhood I mentioned earlier.
So, unwittingly, she went too far. But displaying Fox News is different, because you can pretend that you are not taking sides at all; you're just showing the fair and balanced news. Only the politically aware will realize what you're doing. The rest will just soak it in, even those who might otherwise, if at home, watch CNN or not watch the news at all. A good illustration of taking sides when not taking sides, in another context, comes from Krugman's most recent column, in which he rightly tells us we should be squashing Amazon. He discusses the Amazon/Hatchette controversy, and notes:
Specifically, the penalty Amazon is imposing on Hachette books is bad in itself, but there’s also a curious selectivity in the way that penalty has been applied. Last month the Times’s Bits blog documented the case of two Hachette books receiving very different treatment. One is Daniel Schulman’s “Sons of Wichita,” a profile of the Koch brothers; the other is “The Way Forward,” by Paul Ryan, who was Mitt Romney’s running mate and is chairman of the House Budget Committee. Both are listed as eligible for Amazon Prime, and for Mr. Ryan’s book Amazon offers the usual free two-day delivery. What about “Sons of Wichita”? As of Sunday, it “usually ships in 2 to 3 weeks.” Uh-huh.
So, anyway, what Krugman's experience illustrates more than the lesson he took from it, is the all pervading corporate friendly propaganda to which we are endlessly subjected and which we are more or less powerless to avoid. Just another brick in the wall.