It is clear to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention that we live in very interesting times. What passes as news in the mainstream has been altered and adapted to keep up with pop culture and entertainment, and what is considered news has become entirely subjective. The Fox News channel has been ahead of this game for quite some time. In a news organization where Karl Rove, former Bush administration deputy chief of staff, co-founder of the American Crossroads Super PAC, and an obviously biased pundit, can order the news anchors to re-examine election results live on television, anything is possible.
While Fox News has been consistently cited as slanting the news toward a right wing point of view, its online forum, Fox Nation, views the world through the right wing crazy lens. Current hot topics on the website include “Editor Predicts Obama Will Lie Under Oath,” “White House Continues Its War On Women,” and the latest Carmen Electra Bikini pics. Really? This is what people are consuming as news? What Fox Nation delivers is opinionated hit pieces with the real facts glossed over or omitted entirely.
The most egregious example of the Fox Nation view of reality comes from a small post from December 20th 2012, entitled “Bikers Turn Out to Protect Newtown Mourners from Westboro Baptist Church.” That seems innocuous enough, doesn't it? The headline gives us the illusion that this post will be about bikers keeping protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church away from mourners at the funeral of Newtown, Conn., shooting victim Dawn Hochsprung. What we get instead is a sub-headline that boggles the mind and sends us spiraling down the extreme right wing rabbit hole.
"Bikers Turn Out to Protect Newtown Mourners from Left-Wing Westboro Cult." Yes, the Westboro Baptist Church, a group that created the website, Godhatesfags.com and posted a video entitled “God sent the Shooter” is a Left-Wing cult. Didn't you know that? This is Alice in crazy land. And it gets better (worse). The Fox Nation post is a short, Frankenstein-like patchwork that sews together bits and pieces from a legitimate newspaper article from the Cochrane Times, and a conservative blog. The blog post itself is from the website of Jim Hoft, a blogger known as gateway pundit.
Right upfront, Mr. Hoft begins to tilt at the conservative windmills, seeing giants that aren't there. “Conservative bikers turned out yesterday to protect Newtown mourners from Democrat Fred Phelps and his Westboro cult from protesting.” The “conservative” bikers Hoft is quick to point out are from the Patriot Guard Riders. The PGR are a group of bikers who serve as a support group for veterans and fallen soldiers. The PGR are admittedly apolitical. Their mission statement states:
“We don’t care what you ride or if you ride, what your political views are, or whether you’re a hawk or a dove. It is not a requirement that you be a veteran. It doesn't matter where you’re from or what your income is; you don’t even have to ride. The only prerequisite is Respect.” If that's not the statement of a clearly non-partisan group, I don't know what is.
Beyond mislabeling the Patriot Guard Riders, you probably noticed that Mr. Hoft labeled Fred Phelps, founder and leader of Westboro Baptist Church as a Democrat. In the conclusion of the blog post, Hoft again calls Phelps a “lifelong Democrat.” A quick search on the internet and one will soon learn that Fred Phelps did in fact support the Democratic party ... in the late 80s and early 90s. Phelps even supported Al Gore in the 1988 Democratic Party presidential primary election, because of earlier, seemingly anti-gay statements Gore made as Senator in 1984.
The gateway pundit article stops there. You will find no mention of the fact that “liberal Democrat” Fred Phelps denouncing the Democrats and the Clinton administration for supporting gay rights, nor will you find any reference to videos in which Phelps called President Obama the Anti-Christ. Why would a “Democratic” radical do such a thing? He wouldn't. Phelps is far from being a Democrat and even farther from being a liberal. The two are not entirely interchangeable. I contacted Mr. Hoft and asked if he had other sources that could further highlight the connection between Fred Phelps and the Democratic Party. Not surprisingly, I have yet to hear a response.
One can understand why Fox Nation and Jim Hoft would be so quick to distance the Westboro Baptist Church from the conservative mindset, especially after the horrific tragedy of the Newtown shootings. Who in their right minds would want to be associated with a group of sick individuals that would protest the funerals of innocent shooting victims?
The real irony that this Fox Nation post points out is that no one was associating the average fox news consumer, or anyone in conservative politics, with Westboro.That is, until now.
Fox Nation gave us the biggest, most obvious similarity between itself and the Westboro Baptist Church. These are the only two groups that had the disgusting, unmitigated gall to politicize such a tragedy in order to evangelize their own twisted agendas. Once you pay a little closer attention, Fox Nation and Westboro have more in common than one would realize, and you don't even have to view the world through the crazy lens to see it.