I have also lost friends to Fox News and also to these very unprofessional websites and YouTube videos where people claim all kinds of thing, such as: the western wildfires were started by antifa arsonists & BLM is a fundraising scheme for the DNC. The COVID stuff has been off the charts. FOX is one part of a multi-tentacled fear & outrage apparatus that is now global, and generally extreme Right/reactionary, teetering on fascist. Maybe fascist, full stop. We know the Russians are involved and I suspect the fossil fuel industry — seeking to stop sane action on climate and coming collapse. (SMH).
The scary thing about this kind of “news” is how it demonizes a whole portion of the US population to the point of possible violence against them. QAnon is particularly dangerous in this regard. And, how ironic that it comes from chat boards full of pedophilia, crass sexism, violent porn, Nazism and similar forms of insanity.
We saw the “strange fruits” of all this on January 6, at the El Paso Walmart and in other smaller or large incidents across the nation & elsewhere (New Zealand mosque shooter).
On the other hand, the more centrist and “left leaning media” does have a tendency to promote clickbait, and during the Trump years was quick to frame everything in the worst possible terms. This was fuel for FOX News and others, and difficult to navigate because Trump himself was actually so shocking and outrageous — as well as being a grifter and wanna-be mobster. Much of what was/is happening WAS/is sensational and extreme. Indeed, the mainstream news failed to cover some of the most shocking parts of the Trump history and presidency, including his oft stated belief in eugenics and superior genes, as well as use of Nazi symbology and clear dog whistling, even at the DHS home page. (See my Medium essays).
Despite all of this, I just wanted to drop in here and say, as a former investigative journalist in print media and now with a YouTube channel analyzing our politics, trying to be more calm and compassionate, journalism is VERY important. And good journalism is certainly alive and well! Particularly in long-form magazine articles and books and in the standard newspapers (warning: which often have a significant corporate & neoliberal bias) such as the New York Times and Washington Post and/or your local dailies. I like the New Yorker very much, as they dive so deep, the Atlantic and Mother Jones.
It is not enough, if we love our country and also our planet to just complain about the news media. We should search out those journalists and news outlets that are fair and balanced and show a sense of compassion.
This is our job because we are privileged and blessed to live in what is still mostly a democracy. So many people around the world do not have this privilege. Free speech here is a gift. We should not criticize it out of existence, but by our choices and engagement, make it better.