Fox “News,” Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and the rest of the right-wing media noise machine have spent years amassing an audience by manipulating the emotions and subverting the reasoning process of its consumers.
Millions have bought into grandiose and exciting narratives spun by their favorite hyperventilating TV and radio personalities who pretend to be delivering real information.
Hollywood asks us to suspend disbelief to enjoy two hours or so of movie entertainment. Right-wing media ask their customers to suspend reality wholesale and step into a fantasy-bubble where conspiracy theories become real.
More and more we are seeing unstable, heavily armed individuals step out of that bubble and violently act on those paranoid, anti-government fantasies in the real world.
It’s like Fox and its media accomplices have filled a theater and — right at the scariest moment in their movie — yell “FIRE!” while refusing to accept any responsibility for the people getting hurt in the panic.
After the bloodbath in Tucson in 2011, Sheriff Clarence Dupnik warned of the toxic environment created by extreme media, saying: “To try to inflame the public on a daily basis, 24 hours a day, seven days a week has an impact on people.” He also said, “[Limbaugh] attacks people, angers them against government, angers them against elected officials and that kind of behavior in my opinion is not without consequences.”
He was immediately set upon by the attack dogs of the right-wing media.
But as unfolding events continue to tragically demonstrate, Sheriff Dupnik is right.