New York Magazine published an article on Tuesday by Luke O'Neil, writing from a very dark place. It's titled "What I’ve Learned From Collecting Stories of People Whose Loved Ones Were Transformed by Fox News" to the extent that it comes off as a parody of itself that could be called "Invasion of the Fox News Body Snatchers." [Scary Hannity image is theirs.]
He tweeted "I asked a bunch of people how it felt watching their family members be stolen from them by Fox News over the years". Read O'Neil's sad but unintentionally hilarious tale of loved ones who supposedly became mind-numbed robots (or pod people) due to watching Fox News and I guarantee you will burst out laughing.
Last week, I devoted an installment of my newsletter Welcome to Hell World to a dozen stories from people who, like me, had close relationships that had been strained or ruined by family members who’d become obsessed with Fox News.
No matter where the stories came from they all featured a few familiar beats: A loved one seemed to have changed over time. Maybe that person was already somewhat conservative to start. Maybe they were apolitical. But at one point or another, they sat down in front of Fox News, found some kind of deep, addictive comfort in the anger and paranoia, and became a different person — someone difficult, if not impossible, to spend time with. The fallout led to failed marriages and estranged parental relationships.
For at least one person, it marks the final memory he’ll ever have of his father: “When I found my dad dead in his armchair, f---ing Fox News was on the TV,” this reader told me. “It’s likely the last thing he saw. I hate what that channel and conservative talk radio did to my funny, compassionate dad. He spent the last years of his life increasingly angry, bigoted, and paranoid.”
Do not watch that TV set with Fox News on it! Just the glow from the screen will infect your mind and turn you into a cold conservative, alien to our liberal values!
Something about the piece struck a chord. It had gone viral, and wave after wave of frustrated and saddened Fox News orphans began to commiserate with me and with each other on Twitter and in my messages. Others wrote of similar phenomenon in Australia with the television channel Sky or in the U.K. with the tabloid Daily Mail. I heard from more than a hundred people who felt like they could relate to what they all seemed to think of as a kind of ideological brain poisoning. They chose Fox News over their family, people told me. They chose Fox News over me.
There was the one reader who wrote of his Puerto Rican uncle becoming a Fox News junkie, and turning on his own people, as he put it, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. “He was literally sitting in the dark and still defending Trump,” he said, which seemed a metaphor almost too on the nose. Hearing stories like that over and over again all weekend wasn’t pretty.
Hmmm... Could it have been because his uncle realized that a lot of the hurricane aide was mishandled by corrupt politicians on the island? Just to be aware of such well-known corruption qualifies you as a mindless Fox News pod person. Right, Luke?
Whatever the actual direction of causality, there are many, many Americans who blame Fox News for changes in their loved ones, and many people out there who feel as though their friends and family members have been lost to a 24/7 stream of right-wing propaganda....
Young parents wrote that they don’t want to bring their children to visit aging Fox-brainers. “The worst is when my children go to spend time with their grandparents and come home with Fox News talking points coming out of their mouths,” one told me. “I have to decontaminate them every time.”
QUICK! Turn on NPR full blast to decontaminate the children!
Another person told me that Rush Limbaugh sent his father on the path to isolation before eventually mainlining Fox News on a regular basis. Eventually, out of the blue, his mother filed for divorce. “He was crushed, couldn’t understand why, and took comfort in drinking while watching his friends on TV. She is happier than I have ever seen her and he is sad and angry living in the basement of a rented house, still watching The Five, Tucker Carlson, Jeanine Pirro, etc.”
Ah! So Rush Limbaugh was like the gateway drug to the full Fox News addiction which poor daddy now mainlines.