This article in Politico caught my eye. The gist of the piece talks about how Fox News, the outstretched, right-leaning media arm of the Trump administration, is transforming into an outlet that pushes content more in line with Breitbart News. It seems like a debatable point, since Fox News has always veered heavily conservative in its “reporting.”
Even so, Fox News is attempting to bump shoulder to shoulder with Breitbart by offering content on its website that is reminiscent of a barbed wire fence. For starters, Fox is beefing up its digital content staff and giving those workers what they need to perform their jobs more effectively. Digital content hasn’t always been such a priority for the media organization, but Murdoch’s love child seems intent on not missing a beat.
How to describe Breitbart? Much less facts-oriented, more aggressive language. The article provides some good examples of Fox’s mimicry skills, such as referring to Trump’s visit to the FBI headquarters as “ENTERING ENEMY TERRITORY.”
Another interesting example was when Fox’s website described the North Korean scientists as “Rocket men.” Not only are they borrowing an insult from Trump’s playbook, they are magically taking the insult and applying it in a racist way. Maybe Kim Jong Un will start calling us all dotards? Point being that Fox has all but shunned any pretense to non-racist liberalism. For sure, it’s always been a racist cesspool, but maybe the language is a bit more free in its bigoted phrasing.
So, is the trajectory of Fox News’ language a clear thing? Could it even be described as an evolution? Certainly, the website has a new man at the helm, Noah Kotch, which lends itself to a different personal style. It’s always been my association that Breitbart is what Fox was scared to be. As I said, different leader, different style, that much is sure. I’m debating with myself now whether or not the language is indeed more incendiary on Fox’s website post-Kotch. It could be that there isn’t much of a difference in how both styles provide the contours for inflammatory language. In other words, both media outlets have the whiff of extreme insularity about them. The goals are similar.
Let’s think about it this way: that the architect of incendiary language in some cases consistently refers to the insularity required to sustain the effectiveness of that language. Fox News and Breitbart are highly similar, almost indistinguishable in this way. Fox creates a bubble for its listeners, keeping its viewers’ visions of the past alive through effective editing and sterile words. It has maintained this bubble for years. Now Breitbart moseys into town, thinking itself to be an edgelord. Fox has seen fit to emulate Breitbart’s style, increasing the insularity to match the perceived ignorance of the viewership. What’s new in this observation, then? Breitbart offering a a sharply more bigoted tone is the mainstream view. I think looking at the level of insulation is key to deciding. Insularity reinforces inflammatory language, and the heightened emotion of the words used reinforces that insularity.
What’s interesting to me is that Breitbart has perfected the lowbrow art of half-wittingly spamming a portion of the online population with content–something that Fox is experimenting with, but is still tweaking. Is the medium the message, then? Digital content can be very powerful, even more so if spammed correctly and over a long period of time. Because of how rapid social media reinforcement can be, the level of insularity offered is off the charts. Rapidity + Incendiary language + Insularity, the three-pronged effort of Breitbart, and now Fox News.
You know, I still haven’t decided which is worse yet. One wants to become the other, that’s bad enough.