April 14, 2018

A Brief Look at Fox News

Yesterday morning, I recorded Fox & Friends on my DVR. I have never watched this program—if I’m not listening to Morning Edition while the program is on the air, I’m watching Morning Joe—but I thought that I should take a look at the guidance being given President Trump by his most influential advisors.

When I began to review my recording, it didn’t take long to be gobsmacked. The show’s introduction included the following teaser:
Fired FBI director James Comey slamming our commander-in-chief, attacking President Trump’s integrity and appearance, saying, “This president is unethical.”
What is odd here is the phrase “our [emphasis added] commander-in-chief.” Here’s why:
  1. The “commander-in-chief” title is inappropriate in this context. Trump was Comey’s president, not his commander-in-chief, since Comey was not in the military chain of command.
  2. Stranger is the use of “our,” rather than the more usual “the.”
What do I conclude from these observations?

First, conservatives have a fondness for, if not authoritarian structures, then at least hierarchical ones. 
“Commander-in-chief” suggests more authority than does “president.” The Fox morning team seems to prefer a strong president, as long as he is white and conservative.

It was the use of “our,” however, that really got my attention. In normal conversation among Americans, we tend to talk about the president, not my president or our president. Were we speaking with outsiders—were we having a conversation in South Africa, for example—we almost certainly would refer to our president. This usage is unusual on an American television program targeted to Americans.

The use of “our” on Fox & Friends has a conspiratorial air about it. The hosts are addressing the Fox News audience that sees itself as a tight-knit community assailed by liberal antagonists. Trump is our man, not theirs. Indeed he is!

I didn’t get much further into reviewing my recording. Doing so promised to be painful, and I will need to steel myself for the project. I did watch enough to notice that the hosts assume that Hillary Clinton did something illegal. Perhaps, when my blood pressure is lower, I will watch the rest of Friday’s show. Maybe it was Fox & Friends that gave Trump the idea of launching an attack against Syria on Friday night.

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