Fox News works very hard indeed to maintain the sanctity of its infotainment ecosystem. The president's favorite teevee channel is rarely interested in hosting any invasive species who might bring along evidence-based decision-making or alternate points of view. Normally, these interlopers are limited to the Liberal Piñatas that the Tucker Carlsons of the world invite on to bash for a segment. Occasionally, however, a dissenter will cut a path through the dense jungle of nonsense and make a lasting impression.
A remarkable scene ensued when Fox & Friends hosted former Navy SEAL Jake Zweig to discuss terror threats after a man drove into pedestrians outside the UK parliament in August 2018. Presumably, the residents of the Genius Couch expected Zweig to hold the line on the idea the solution to international terrorism was maintaining our commitment to Endless War in the Middle East. That ain't how it went.
"We're going to have to take a different approach," Zweig said. "We're going to have to stop dropping bombs on their head and creating more terrorists. Probably going to have to go to an educational piece. What we're doing isn't working at this point." This brought a spluttering response from Brian Kilmeade. It's just not what he or his producers expected to hear when they booked an ex-SEAL.
Even more memorably, the aforementioned Tucker Carlson invited on a Dutch historian named Rutger Bregman. Carlson expected the academic to play along with his performative Elite Bashing, only for Bregman to eviscerate him as "a millionaire funded by billionaires," tasked with protecting the political and economic structure of the status quo while distracting the audience with propaganda. Carlson got sufficiently embarrassed that he refused to air the segment. Luckily, Bregman recorded it from his side and posted it online.
A similar phenomenon ensued during a town hall for Bernie Sanders Monday night, in which Very Serious News Anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum demonstrated they might need to spend a bit more time outside The Ecosystem. They knew what they were getting with Bernie, surely. What they had no idea is that many people in the audience would support his ideas.
One obstacle that Medicare-For-All proponents face is that, as it stands, some labor unions aren't particularly interested in giving up the private insurance plans that they've fought hard to secure over the years. That's why some Democratic candidates, like Beto O'Rourke and Pete Buttigieg, are leaning towards a public option like a Medicaid or Medicare buy-in. But a lot of the anti-M4A rhetoric, particularly on the right, seems to be based on the idea that people love dealing with their private insurance companies. This assumes facts not in evidence to say the least, as another Sanders riff from elsewhere in the evening showed:
Bernie Sanders spent more than 2 minutes of his Fox News town hall to defend Medicare for All and attack Trump’s Medicare plans - uninterrupted. Not sure I’ve seen that happen on Fox News before. pic.twitter.com/kuONJdbcB3- Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) April 16, 2019
Now, this sample might just constitute the kind of people who'd go to a Bernie Sanders town hall. But the notion that millions of Americans are desperate to sit on hold with Blue Cross Blue Shield so they can argue about whether some service is covered according to the intricate details of their private insurance plan is absurd. What people want is to keep going to their same doctors-an issue that prompted perhaps Barack Obama's biggest lie in office while he tried to get the Affordable Care Act passed into law. The problem there was that Obama's bill still largely operated in the swamp of for-profit insurance, where, as Sanders pointed out here, there are "networks" constructed to exclude some doctors and providers and actually limit choice. When shifting people around in this system, it was always likely that some people would be locked out of the networks that included their doctors.
None of this is to say that Medicare For All will waltz into law with universal support. But if it lives up to Sanders' promises here-particularly when it comes to freedom of choice on providers-and those pushing it do a good job of explaining how it will change the experience of actually accessing healthcare in this country, it will have support. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 56 percent of all Americans already favor "a national health plan, sometimes called Medicare-for-all, in which all Americans would get their insurance from a single government plan."
All this was enough reality for one day on the Fox News Channel, however. Sean Hannity invited former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik to discuss Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and hilarity did not ensue.
They are trying to get her killed. The congresswoman saw a spike in death threats after the President of the United States produced a propaganda film linking her to the 9/11 attacks, and his apparatchiks are doubling down. (In a tweet this morning, the president referred to Fox News as "we.") In the space of a week-since Omar's comments were dug up from three weeks previous and ripped from their context-the accusations have gone from the idea Omar was downplaying the attacks to the notion she actively supports terrorist groups. This is a perilous festival of lies, and of course it's produced by a cast of hypocrites who have zero recognizable ethics of any kind.
Donald Trump, you may remember, is the guy who used a TV interview on 9/11 to declare that, now that the Twin Towers had fallen, his building was the tallest in Lower Manhattan. (It was not, which makes the statement both sociopathic and false.) And Kerik, a longtime ally of Rudy Giuliani, did not merely plead guilty to eight felony charges, including tax fraud, and spend four years in prison after a judge suggested that, "I think the damage caused by Mr. Kerik is in some ways immeasurable." CBS News had more in 2004:
WCBS-TV reported that a Manhattan apartment Kerik reportedly used to conduct extramarital affairs with two women overlooked Ground Zero and was supposed to be for the use of exhausted 9/11 workers.
These are the people who are sold to us as the Brave American Patriots who really care about what happened on September 11. That's why they use it as a political cudgel to bash a freshman congresswoman who just happens to be black and Muslim, continually upping the temperature and with it, the danger to her life. And these are the folks you're supposed to believe have devoted even one single second of thought to whether you have adequate healthcare coverage.
('You Might Also Like',)