Fox News is Leading Prime Time Network

Preying on the fears of old white people is good business.

President Donald J. Trump participates in a FOX News Channel virtual town hall entitled America Together: Returning to Work, with co-moderators Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum live from the Lincoln Memorial Sunday, May 3, 2020, in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

Between the hours of 8 and 11 Eastern Time, more Americans are tuned to crackpot conspiracy theories and outright lies than any other channel. Not just any news channel. Any channel, period.

New York Times (“Boycotted. Criticized. But Fox News Leads the Pack in Prime Time.“)

In June and July, Fox News was the highest-rated television channel in the prime-time hours of 8 to 11 p.m. Not just on cable. Not just among news networks. All of television. The average live Fox News viewership in those hours outstripped cable rivals like CNN, MSNBC and ESPN, as well as the broadcast networks ABC, CBS and NBC, according to Nielsen.

That three-hour slot is a narrow but significant slice of TV real estate, and it is exceedingly rare for a basic-cable channel to outrank the Big Three broadcasters, which are available in more households and offer a wider variety of programming.

Even the return of live sports did little to stop the momentum: The Fox News programs hosted by Mr. Carlson and Sean Hannity drew more live viewers than competing baseball and basketball games, including a Yankees-Nationals matchup on Opening Day.

Fox News’s big summer has been boosted by a rise in audience for news programming in general, an increase driven by interest in the pandemic, civil rights protests and the presidential election. ABC, CBS, and NBC, meanwhile, have more reruns on the summer schedule; the coronavirus has suspended most TV productions; and viewers are being lured away by streaming services and on-demand Hollywood movies.

To some degree, then, this is an anomaly. This is an unusually weak period for broadcast television and a peak time for news programming. Presumably, the return of Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football, and Thursday Night Football (presuming that actually happens) will restore the universe to its natural balance.

But there’s a reason one particular news network is leading all the others.

But the Fox News ratings also demonstrate the size and resilience of America’s audience for pro-Trump opinion, and the loyalty of Fox News viewers who shrug off the controversies that routinely swirl around the network.

“Massive news events that conservatives view through a highly partisan lens are driving the ratings, and none of the controversies really land with loyal Fox News viewers,” said Nicole Hemmer, a scholar at Columbia University and a historian of American conservative media.

Lachlan Murdoch, the executive chairman of Fox News’s parent company, bragged on an earnings call last week about the network’s “astronomical” ratings. He also said its ad revenue was up from a year ago — a reminder that Fox News, for all the flak it takes from critics, politicians and the advertisers that fled Mr. Carlson, remains an unrivaled profit engine for the Murdoch empire.

Complaints that Fox News prime-time hosts downplayed the coronavirus — and, in the case of Laura Ingraham, encouraged the use of hydroxychloroquine, a drug shown to be useless, and even dangerous, for Covid-19 patients — made little difference.

“The belief that hydroxychloroquine is something between a therapeutic and a miracle cure is wildly popular in conservative media, especially talk radio,” Ms. Hemmer said. “Tucker Carlson’s controversies have never really hurt his ratings, though they have cost him advertisers.”

The notion that lies and conspiracy theories “made little difference” is cute. They’re a feature, not a bug. Everyone else is telling the same story. One outlet is telling these people what they want to hear.

Two days stood out when Fox News ratings fell significantly: the funerals of George Floyd, the Minnesota man who died after a police officer pinned him to the ground during a routine stop, and Representative John Lewis, the towering civil rights figure.

Like its rivals CNN and MSNBC, Fox News carried the memorial services live. During Mr. Floyd’s funeral, viewership on all three networks dipped. On both occasions, the drop in Fox News’s audience was stark, down to numbers more typically seen during overnight hours. (CNN and Mediaite previously reported on the ratings dips.)

That’s . . . not surprising. Floyd isn’t a public figure. Nobody outside a small circle had ever heard of him or had any interest in his funeral. That his brutal death at the hands of police sparked a national—indeed, international—protest movement doesn’t mean that it was about him per se.

It’s worth noting that, even though Fox News is leading prime time during an anomalous period doesn’t mean it’s the dominant news source.

The evening newscasts on ABC, CBS and NBC are notching their biggest audiences in years. David Muir’s “World News Tonight” on ABC has been a standout: In July, its episodes were the top 18 telecasts across all of broadcast and cable television, drawing more viewers than usual summertime ratings leaders like NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”

All three of the network newscasts, which air at 6:30 p.m., draw more viewers than Fox News’s prime-time shows, with Mr. Muir more than doubling Mr. Hannity’s average in July.

I honestly couldn’t tell you who is anchoring any of the other networks’ nightly news broadcasts these days. But it’s interesting that these fading entities still draw more than double Fox News’ most popular show—even though it’s dominating prime time.

Hannity and Carlson are, at the end of the day, infotainment at best. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have an outsized role in shaping public opinion among a niche audience.

FILED UNDER: Media
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. 8-11 is the least newsy part of the Fox “News” Channel’s lineup, too.

    9
  2. EddieInCA says:

    What many of us in Blue State America don’t see, and can’t comprehend is how strong the feedback loop is with right-wing media. I’m in Utah, still, and if you watch one of the local stations here, a Sinclair channel, you’d be hard pressed to distinguish it from Fox News. And Sinclair is HUGE in rural areas. Combine that with AM Talk radio, and Limbaugh, Hannity (radio), Savage, Medved, Prager, Webb, Erickson, Shapiro, etc, etc, all parroting the exact same Fox talking point, and creating a an alternate reality, it’s no wonder much of the media gets branded as “fake.”

    It’s still surprising now strong the feedback loop.

    There was an interview over the weekend where the head of “Bikers for Trump” was interviewed, and he said (paraphrasing), “This virus was created by the left to bring down Donald Trump”. You had to see it to believe the idiocy coming out of this guy’s mouth.

    https://www.politicalflare.com/2020/08/bikers-for-trump-founder-says-the-left-planned-the-coronavirus-pandemic-to-hurt-trump/

    11
  3. Kathy says:

    Odd to see the two-minute hate stretched to three hours and with commercials.

    3
  4. Jen says:

    And yet, Ainsley Earhart broke out this gem of a statement.

    Fox is not news, it is pablum for aggrieved conservatives tired of being confronted with facts.

    8
  5. gVOR08 says:

    Joseph Goebbels must turn over in his grave realizing how much money he could have made if he’d run his operation like Murdoch.

    9
  6. CSK says:

    @EddieInCA:
    The notion that the virus, or at least the pandemic, was created specifically to bring down Donald Trump is a very widespread one on the right and has been for months. The “thinking” is that the Russia hoax couldn’t bring him down, the Ukraine business couldn’t bring him down, and impeachment failed, so the left had to create a pandemic.

    6
  7. Mikey says:

    @EddieInCA:

    “This virus was created by the left to bring down Donald Trump”.

    I don’t think the morons who drool out that kind of crap understand how damning it is to Trump.

    But then, they’re morons, so…

    2
  8. Mikey says:

    @EddieInCA: Also, there’s significant projection in that statement (as there is in everything put out by Trump and his supporters). It was, after all, Kushner who convinced Trump to just let the virus run rampant in the “blue” states, with the specific objective of taking down Democratic leaders.

    5
  9. gVOR08 says:

    This points out a huge problem. I commented yesterday on the flood of pieces about the future of the Republican Party after Trump goes down in flames (please God). The modern Republican Party has two major assets, the Billionaire Boys Club funders who want to ensure we don’t do anything about AGW or raise their taxes and the Conservative Entertainment Complex with FOX as their flagship. I don’t see either going away. OK, the funders will eventually drop away if GOPs continue to lose, but one loss won’t do it. And FOX et al are sitting there waiting to stoke outrage over everything Biden does or doesn’t do for the next four years, preparing the ground for Cruz or Rubio or whoever.

    (I used Marco Rubio and Raphael “Ted” Cruz as hypothetical candidates because I expect the GOPs to try a classic divide and conquer, inviting Hispanics in while continuing to run on anti-Black racism. Probably take more than one cycle, but it’s their obvious move.)

    2
  10. Gustopher says:

    Hannity and Carlson are, at the end of the day, infotainment at best. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have an outsized role in shaping public opinion among a niche audience.

    Two niche audiences: Angry, scared old white people, and a single angry, scared orange person.

    4
  11. CSK says:

    @Gustopher:
    When they play to Trump, they can also rest assured they’re playing to his supporters.

    2
  12. steve says:

    My sense is that not a lot of people on this blog, some but not many, live in rural areas. If you drive through rural areas in this country you can tune into local talk radio. If you think the big names like Limbaugh, Hannity and Ingraham are toxic, those local stations with their local talkers are often even worse. Having some guy having a serious talk with someone else about how the local ducks were behaving as a sign form God that Dems are evil and Trump is God’s anointed, both seriously believing it, is just weird. No conspiracy is too far out to be believed.

    So when people on the left continue to hold out this belief that they are going to convert people away from Trump by demonstrating the conspiracies are not true, it just wont work. This will be a close election and Trump could very well win because he has that unshakeable core of true believers. Turnout will be high for those people.

    Just a bit OT, but if you dont read right wing sites it looks to me like the investigation of the investigators (Comey, FBI in general, etc) is reaching a crescendo. That investigation has been going on longer than the Mueller investigation. I fully expect them to try to time some major announcement like an indictment or something to help the re-election effort. I am guessing mid to late September. Not so early that everyone forgets, long enough that they can bombard the media for a month or so. If something happens and it looks like Trump will win then I predict they hold off and continue “investigating” for another few years to keep the fund raising going.

    Steve

    7
  13. dazedandconfused says:

    Seems unsurprising to me that the people tuning into “News” during prime time (after 8:00) are mostly FOX demographic. Most people are looking for entertainment at that point in the evening, not news. RW political junkies have no channel surfing to do, there is only one channel. It’s a very nice business model.

  14. Michael Cain says:

    I wonder how much of this is simply the long-term results of a number of changes in television delivery? (1) 80% of “over the air” viewers actually receive their signal as part of a basic cable or satellite service. CBS and Fox News are both “basic cable” content, so competing for the same eyeballs. (2) Sitting down in the evening to watch specific content is increasingly an old-folks practice. Youngsters stream, and watch what they want when they want. (3) Fox News’ prime time talking heads are competitive for the old eyeballs. Certainly against, for example, the CW’s super hero lineup.

    1
  15. inhumans99 says:

    Are we at a point where the mainstream/lamestream/fake news (or whatever orgs like CNN are being called by conservatives today) media should just stop reporting on what is shown over the airwaves on Fox News?

    It has been noted that non-Fox news media still attracts the most eyeballs so maybe now is the time to stop reporting on Fox News.

    I know what the push back to my post will be…it is important for the American Public to be informed but we keep saying Fox News is basically an entertainment station and it is not like CNN breathlessly reports on whatever the latest stories of the day are on the E Network.

    If David Muir reports on something not yet picked up by CNN and it is important go ahead and re-report his story and amplify away.

    Fox News personalities say the mainstream media is “biased” against them because folks like David Muir do not say folks stop listening to me and go over to Tucker Carlson’s scheduled program on Fox for the real scoop on what is going down in America…which is just like crazy and makes you go wait, what?

    Conservatives will always declare any non-Fox news story (or story that is not from a conservative site network like OAN) to be biased so we need to stop playing the game, as that is the only way to win (thank you Wargames).

    2
  16. Michael Reynolds says:

    Fox is the official voice of Cult45. And yes, we are dealing with a cult, not a political party. Political parties do not encourage their members to commit suicide, Cult45 does. Political parties do not just shrug when their members’ children are sick, Cult45 does. Members of political parties do not simply abandon their prior beliefs and adopt diametrically opposed positions, that’s what culties do.

    Let’s have a list of all the previous Republican presidents who were never challenged or opposed by their own Senate. How about Democrats? Exactly: no such thing. Never has any political party in the US or the West more broadly ever been able to maintain such iron control. That degree of control is not typical of political parties but is entirely typical of cults of personality, like those around Hitler or Stalin or David Koresh.

    Cult45 lives in an enclosed silo of lies, exactly the way Scientologists or Koreshis or People’s Temple cult members do or did, and not at all the way a real political party like the Democratic Party, or Britain’s Tories or France’s Socialists behave. It is IMO simply wrong to equate Trump supporters with their increasingly bizarre fantasies and conspiracies, with mere political partisans.

    The majority of Trump supporters are white Evangelicals, which means they’ve grown up in an intellectual environment of denial of reality, of weird fantasy, of exploited fears and cultivated hates. They were cult-adjacent before joining Cult45.

    There are a number of slightly different definitions of a cult but these ten warning signs were suggested by the Guardian and are a good place to start:

    • Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability. (Check.)

    • No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry. (Check.)

    • No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget or expenses, such as an independently audited financial statement. (Check.)

    • Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions. (Check.)

    • There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil. (Check.)

    • Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances. (Uncertain.)

    • There are records, books, news articles, or broadcast reports that document the abuses of the group/leader. (Check.)

    • Followers feel they can never be “good enough”. (Uncertain.)

    • The group/leader is always right. (Check.)

    • The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible. (Check.)

    Eight out of ten. Now ask yourself how many of those ten points would apply to the Republican Party 20 years ago. Or to the Democratic Party today. Or to Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats. Or Canada’s Liberal Party. See the difference? Now let’s look at points of similarity with Scientology. See how much more closely Trumpies align with Scientologist ethos and practices as opposed to any other political party?

    11
  17. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    I don’t know if this is a factor in determining if a group is a cult, but I’ve never heard people talk about a leader or politician in the way Trumpkins talk about Trump. Just this morning I’ve seen “manly,” “savvy,” “God’s chosen,” and “the greatest president ever” to describe him.

    This worshipfulness, this adulation is something I’ve never encountered before. Just as startling is how delusional it is. Trump is clearly not so many of the things he’s described as being.

    9
  18. @Michael Reynolds: It is possible that this is my ego talking, but it feels like you are trolling me here. Yet, I also feel wary about direct engagement because I really pissed you off doing so a while back.

    I am not going to try and go down your list, but I am going to continue to point out that you cannot generalize the worse behavior you see in either online Trumpist or Red Hat Ralliers to everyone who votes Republican.

    And the “call to suicide” as certain as proof drive me nuts: some of them are in active denialthat the virus is dangerous (or that masks are needed), which is not calling their followers to drink poisoned Kool-Aid, it is being stupid. Plus, if cult-like mesmerizism was actually in play, all Reps would be rejecting all Covid mitigating practices, and they aren’t.

    My Very Red State Governor not only issued a mask requirement last month, she doubled down on encouraging mask-wearing today. I am, by no means, a fan of the Alabama Republican Party, but if the whole party is a cult, how do you explain that behavior?

    I still maintain that a lot of what you refer to as “cult” behavior is basic partisanship. A mistake I think you make is assume that “acting like a political party” means rational, logical dedication to public policy arguments. But that’s not the case, and never has been.

    The simple fact that most people vote the way they do because their parents voted that way undercuts the notion that we are talking about purely rational calculations.

    7
  19. charon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Perhaps a simpler way to see it is to consider the GOP a basically fascist entity which includes some parts of its constituencies that essentially are cults. The QAnon people with their “Q” symbols sure look like a cult, for example.

    As for Michael’s checklist, that looks to me like it could as well apply to fascism as to cultishness.

    5
  20. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Cain: Speak for yourself on the CW superhero demographic. I watch all of the one’s since I came back from Korea (Arrow and The Flash didn’t play well there and were too developed for me to follow coming in late) and think they’re a hoot.

    I do have to admit that I’m flummoxed by Stargirl so far though, given that to this point the plot of the villains seems to consist of reindustrializing and bring prosperity back to moribund Midwestern towns. I don’t get why we have a country where we need villains to do this. 🙁

    ETA: There’s clearly something in the metatheme/metastory that I am missing. [chin scratching emoji here]

    1
  21. And, I would note, I am actually more concerned about a political party that is evolving ever more into a pro-authoritarian, white identity party than I am a cult, per se.

    Ultimately, I remain unsure what good calling it a cult does anyway since it is nonetheless functioning as a political party: nominating candidates, winning office, making policy, etc.

    4
  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    @CSK:
    Exactly. And I don’t mean to harp on this, but when I talk about understanding character as being the best way to understand Trump, or when I insist on it being a cult rather than mere political partisanship, it’s because I’ve watched four years of the pundits, the press and the professors not understanding what they’re seeing.

    How many rounds of ‘Trump is acting presidential now,’ articles were there? All of them absolutely wrong. How many rounds of, ‘surely this will dismay Trump supporters,’ have we endured, all wrong, wrong, wrong. Wrong because they did not understand Trump as a character. Wrong because they did not understand that this was something more malignant than mere political partisanship.

    The inability of the vast majority of experts to see beyond the prejudices of their chosen fields and to come to grips with a reality that defies their familiar labeling has been a major contributor to the damage done by Trump.

    The people who have been most accurate in describing what we have here are Never-Trump Republicans and various people in the arts. The Never-Trumpers easily see the difference between the politics they understood and the cult that we now face – and people like Jennifer Rubin call it a cult, because it is. And artists, as is often the case, are the first to see where society is heading. (Somewhat tangential example: who better understood the police in this country, pundits and political scientists or NWA all the way back in 1988? Imagine if we’d listened to NWA and ignored the so-called experts.)

    Four years of experts playing Neville Chamberlain, imagining that Herr Hitler was just another national leader, just another prince or president who, surely, could be reasoned with. If you’re going to beat an enemy you have to understand them. Four years of utterly wasted effort to convince Trumpies of reality, all of it a waste of time. Four years of chin-stroking over Trump’s n-dimensional chess. A waste of time, diversions that kept us from recognizing and reacting to reality.

    4
  23. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    \The point is that the ardently pro-Trump wing of the Republican Party does have many things in common with a cult.

    I don’t by any means think all Republicans are fascists or cultists. Is Charlie Baker a fascist? Of course not, and neither are the vast majority of northeast Republicans.

    The Trump-fanciers aren’t actually Republicans or conservatives; they’re nationalist populist theocrats who’ve been looking for a leader. In Trump they found him.

    6
  24. charon says:

    @CSK:

    “God’s chosen,”

    This idea is being pushed by the Christian Right PTB, likening T to King Cyrus or Queen Esther for example. No big surprise there are marks buying it.

    1
  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I think you can give this one a rest, Michael. You’ve probably convinced about everyone who will believe and are beginning to sound like a fundy evangelist. Your choice, though.

    3
  26. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    I am not at all annoyed by being disagreed with, I expect to be disagreed with. But I’m right and you’re wrong.

    I respect your learning, but learning can be a trap. You’re a political scientist and you assume, because Trump is president and Senators are Senators, that we are in the realm of politics. We are not. We are in the realm of cult of personality, of religion, or faith. This is not politics, it’s comparative religion studies. It is not a coincidence, nor is it irrelevant, that the dominant force in today’s GOP is not big money, but white evangelical religion.

    Opposition to trans rights, gay rights and abortion are not political stands, no one makes an economic or practical argument, the arguments are all religious. Racism is not smart politics, it’s self-destructive politics as the GOP once acknowledged – but it does not follow lines of political advantage, it hews to white Evangelical Christianity, the leading denomination of which was founded on an explicit belief in slavery. A refusal to wear masks during a pandemic is not a political stand – no party encourages its people to die – it is a religious faith in a charismatic cult leader.

    When in the history of this country has every member of any political party absolutely refused to criticize a president of their own party? I can find hundreds of examples of Republicans criticizing Eisenhower, Reagan, or either Bush, while there are effectively no critics within the GOP.

    That is not politics, that is a cult of personality.

    1
  27. @CSK: I have no problem with the term being used in a colloquial sense, or to say that some people behave in a cult-like way.

  28. Michael Reynolds says:

    TL;DR:

    Show me a political party that has ever told its members to disregard health advice during a pandemic and thus increase the risk of its members dying. Show me a partisan willing to die merely to express support. I can show you a bunch of cults that did that, can’t think of a political party.

    2
  29. CSK says:

    @charon:
    Yes, the Biblical analogies are always being pushed by the cultists, in part because, among those who acknowledge that Trump has flaws, it helps them excuse those flaws. God often chooses imperfect men and women to carry out His designs, such as David.

  30. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Well, there are Republican Trump critics. But they get banned from many of the pro-Trump websites.

    Another fact about Cult45 is that, with very few exceptions, it hates the Republican Party.

    1
  31. @Michael Reynolds:

    I am not at all annoyed by being disagreed with, I expect to be disagreed with.

    You got awfully salty when I told you were wrong a while back.

    But I’m right and you’re wrong.

    I will admit, this generated an actual chuckle and I suppose I could play the same game, but then we are reduced to Wabbit Season! Duck Season!

    Opposition to trans rights, gay rights and abortion are not political stands, no one makes an economic or practical argument, the arguments are all religious.

    a. Of course they are.
    b. Since when is politics confined to “an economic or practical argument”? (For that matter, what constitutes a “practical” argument)?
    c. Since when has religion not been political? All of human history is replete with religion being political (and the political being influenced by the religious).

    Racism is not smart politics

    It may be immoral politics. It may be long-run self-defeating (or, at least, I hope that it is). But tell that to, again, most of human history, up to and including the present day. People get elected by deploying racism and the GOP is leaving heavily into it at the moment.

    A refusal to wear masks during a pandemic is not a political stand – no party encourages its people to die – it is a religious faith in a charismatic cult leader.

    Asserting that this is not political doesn’t make it so.

    And no one is actually saying: go die! Kill yourself! They are saying: the risk isn’t real or it is exaggerated. There is a really important difference between the two that you are willfully ignoring that difference to make your case. And you are grossly oversimplifying the GOP message on masks, schools, distancing, etc.

    If this was “a cult of personality” as you define it, how do you explain the GOP governors who have instituted mask requirements and other mitigation measures?

    You aren’t making arguments, you are just stating things. Worse, you are blatantly asserting things that are manifestly not the case.

    When in the history of this country has every member of any political party absolutely refused to criticize a president of their own party?

    It is awfully difficult to claim that “every member” of the GOP refuses to criticize Trump.

    Yes, rally-goers love him. Yes, most people FNC kiss his ass (although, not all). But you are over-extrapolating to make your point, and you have to know that.

    Romney is a member of the GOP and voted to remove him from office. Again, not all the GOP governors are having in lock-step if this was the cult you want to describe it as.

    8
  32. @Michael Reynolds:

    Show me a partisan willing to die merely to express support.

    They aren’t saying: give me Covid-19 so I can die for Trump.

    They are saying: Covid-19 isn’t real or is “just like the flu.”

    Those are very different positions.

    And: not all Republicans are even saying that. There are mask mandates in Red States like Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas.

    That last observation is an empirical fact that undercuts your argument. Instead of making more assertions, could you explain to me how this fact comports with your thesis?

    4
  33. @CSK:

    Yes, the Biblical analogies are always being pushed by the cultists, in part because, among those who acknowledge that Trump has flaws, it helps them excuse those flaws. God often chooses imperfect men and women to carry out His designs, such as David.

    BTW: this is a long-standing move by Evangelicals, both the “God’s chosen” and the King David comparisons. I used to be very much connected to conservative Evangelical churches and have heard that kind of stuff my whole life.

    1
  34. @CSK: BTW, if we want to talk about “the ardently pro-Trump wing of the Republican Party” then we have a different conversation going.

    I have noted before in these conversations that I can see the rally-attending MAGA hat types to be of a specific sub-set of the GOP. MR keeps making far more sweeping statements than that, however.

    1
  35. EddieInCA says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    And artists, as is often the case, are the first to see where society is heading. (Somewhat tangential example: who better understood the police in this country, pundits and political scientists or NWA all the way back in 1988? Imagine if we’d listened to NWA and ignored the so-called experts.)

    I’d go back even further to Grandmaster Flash “The Message”:

    It’s like a jungle sometimes
    It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
    Broken glass everywhere
    People pissin’ on the stairs, you know they just don’t care
    I can’t take the smell, can’t take the noise
    Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice
    Rats in the front room, roaches in the back
    Junkies in the alley with a baseball bat
    I tried to get away but I couldn’t get far
    ‘Cause a man with a tow truck repossessed my car
    Don’t push me ’cause I’m close to the edge
    I’m trying not to lose my head
    It’s like a jungle sometimes
    It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
    Standin’ on the front stoop hangin’ out the window
    Watchin’ all the cars go by, roarin’ as the breezes blow
    Crazy lady, livin’ in a bag
    Eatin’ outta garbage pails, used to be a fag hag
    Said she’ll dance the tango, skip the light fandango
    A Zircon princess seemed to lost her senses
    Down at the peep show watchin’ all the creeps
    So she can tell her stories to the girls back home
    She went to the city and got so so seditty
    She had to get a pimp, she couldn’t make it on her own
    Don’t push me cause I’m close to the edge
    I’m trying not to lose my head
    It’s like a jungle sometimes
    It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
    It’s like a jungle sometimes
    It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
    My brother’s doin’ bad, stole my mother’s TV
    Says she watches too much, it’s just not healthy
    All My Children in the daytime, Dallas at night
    Can’t even see the game or the Sugar Ray fight
    The bill collectors, they ring my phone
    And scare my wife when I’m not home
    Got a bum education, double-digit inflation
    Can’t take the train to the job, there’s a strike at the station
    Neon King Kong standin’ on my back
    Can’t stop to turn around, broke my sacroiliac
    A mid-range migraine, cancered membrane
    Sometimes I think I’m goin’ insane
    I swear I might hijack a plane!
    Don’t push me ’cause I’m close to the edge
    I’m trying not to lose my head
    It’s like a jungle sometimes
    It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
    It’s like a jungle sometimes
    It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
    A child is born with no state of mind
    Blind to the ways of mankind
    God is smilin’ on you but he’s frownin’ too
    Because only God knows what you’ll go through
    You’ll grow in the ghetto livin’ second-rate
    And your eyes will sing a song called deep hate
    The places you play and where you stay
    Looks like one great big alleyway
    You’ll admire all the number-book takers
    Thugs, pimps and pushers and the big money-makers
    Drivin’ big cars, spendin’ twenties and tens
    And you’ll wanna grow up to be just like them, huh
    Smugglers, scramblers, burglars, gamblers
    Pickpocket peddlers, even panhandlers
    You say I’m cool, huh, I’m no fool
    But then you wind up droppin’ outta high school
    Now you’re unemployed, all non-void
    Walkin’ round like you’re Pretty Boy Floyd
    Turned stick-up kid, but look what you done did
    Got sent up for a eight-year bid
    Now your manhood is took and you’re a Maytag
    Spend the next two years as a undercover fag
    Bein’ used and abused to serve like hell
    ‘Til one day, you was found hung dead in the cell
    It was plain to see that your life was lost
    You was cold and your body swung back and forth
    But now your eyes sing the sad, sad song
    Of how you lived so fast and died so young so
    Don’t push me ’cause I’m close to the edge
    I’m trying not to lose my head
    It’s like a jungle sometimes
    It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
    It’s like a jungle sometimes
    It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

    1980. Alot has changed. But not enough.

    1
  36. SC_Birdflyte says:

    The only way I could stomach three hours of Faux Noise would be to move my evening cocktail time from 5 to 8 and make it last three hours. But a bottle of Elijah Craig is SO damned expensive and I’d have to make lots more trips to the liquor store.

    1
  37. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    I was aware of it prior to Trump, but I don’t think I really started to pay much attention to it till Sarah Palin emerged from Wasilla and was greeted as Queen Esther. She made a fetish of her faith, and received a rapturous response.

    It’s a limitation of mine that because I wasn’t raised in any religion, and never set foot in a church but for weddings and funerals, that I tend to think that all reasonably intelligent, educated adults are non-believers or agnostics. I’m genuinely slightly startled when I meet someone of that description who’s also observant. It was my belief that rational adults who went to church did so for whatever social, business, or financial advantages might accrue to them, not to worship, although they were obviously willing to go through the motions of so doing. Of course they kept that to themselves, but if unspoken, it was certainly understood.

    5
  38. CSK says:

    @SC_Birdflyte:
    It ranges between 24.99 and 72.99 at the New Hampshire State Liquor Store for 750 ml.

    3
  39. mattbernius says:

    @EddieInCA:

    What many of us in Blue State America don’t see, and can’t comprehend is how strong the feedback loop is with right-wing media. I’m in Utah, still, and if you watch one of the local stations here, a Sinclair channel, you’d be hard pressed to distinguish it from Fox News. And Sinclair is HUGE in rural areas. Combine that with AM Talk radio, and Limbaugh, Hannity (radio), Savage, Medved, Prager, Webb, Erickson, Shapiro, etc, etc, all parroting the exact same Fox talking point, and creating a an alternate reality, it’s no wonder much of the media gets branded as “fake.”

    This is a really important point. And its something you see in MANY rural areas. And a lot of this really does come down to the death of local news. This is a topic that Margaret Sullivan covers in “Ghosting the News” — https://globalreports.columbia.edu/books/ghosting-the-news/ — really well.

    And there are real implications to a loss of local coverage. For example, Chris Collins’ former Western NU district contained a number of rural “news deserts.” There’s evidence to suggests that many in those districts (which voted heavily for him) didn’t know he was under an indictment when he stood for reelection because it wasn’t being covered in Conservative Media. Collins overperformed in those districts and ultimately won with a margin of 49.1% to 48.8%.

    2
  40. Kathy says:

    @charon:

    This idea is being pushed by the Christian Right PTB, likening T to King Cyrus or Queen Esther for example.

    Well, there is some commonality. Cyrus the Great defeated and conquered the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Trump the Least is well on his way of defeating the American Empire for Putin.

  41. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kathy:

    This morning Brett Stephens was suggesting the comaprison of the Former Reality Show Host and Charles the First of England. Stephens is on to something though I’m all in on the idea that FRSH should share Charles’ fate, while Brett is squeamish about that.

    4
  42. Grewgills says:

    Michael Reynolds
    There are a few dominant threads in republican politics working together and none on their own explain our current situation.
    1) The republican party still acts like a political party, albeit one that is drifting more and more into its fascist tendencies. That fascism behaves in some important ways like a cult.
    2) Conservative Christianity in the US with its dominant Evangelical strain is arguably a cult and the dominant policy driver within the republican party
    3) the money guys playing the culty rubes and country club republicans that still care more about their taxes and reducing regulations that require them to be more fair to their workers than the damage they are doing to our country

    4
  43. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Well, Charles I was tiny and rather delicate, and Trump’s a great lumbering oaf. Charles only had one wife, and Trump is on number three. Charles was also quiet and courteous, which certainly differentiates him from Trump.

    2
  44. Grewgills says:

    Steven L. Taylor
    They did it with W too. I remember seeing the cardboard cutouts of Bush in evangelical churches with rapturous crowds. This might be at a different level, but it isn’t new.

    1
  45. @Grewgills: Yep.

  46. @Grewgills: Indeed, contra MR’s position, I think it is pretty obvious that religious identity can be a powerful political variable. And since the 1970s and the “Moral Majority” the GOP and American Evangelicalism have been self-reinforcing currents in US politics (and it is linked also to race–see, e.g., the segregation academies at churches across the country, especially in the SE).

    1
  47. Nightcrawler says:

    I have never had an iota of sympathy for cultists, with the exception of children and adults who were indoctrinated into the cult as children. Children aren’t old enough to understand, and if they grow up in the cult, they’re literally never exposed to outside thinking.

    But the adults? I don’t care about their lives any more than they do about mine. At some juncture, those horrid people chose to be this ignorant. Unlike children who grew up in the cult, they were exposed to outside thinking, probably plenty of times, and they chose to reject it and follow the cult.

    I could have never worked in human medicine, because I would immediately quit as soon as I was told to save the life of a COVID-19 “victim” who refused to wear masks and likely infected and killed innocent people on their way out the door.

    I don’t care how allegedly “sorry” they are.
    I don’t care about their value system or family.
    I. DON’T. CARE.

    These people literally ended the world. If DT is reelected — and since the GOP is fixing the election, he might be — at least half of us will be dead by this time next year.

    And I’m supposed to feel sorry for the people who enabled this? Absolutely not. I’m just glad my misanthropy, combined with the fact that I was raised to expect I would be murdered in the apocalypse, fueled the best decision I ever made: I never had children. I didn’t bring another life into a hopeless situation.

    Yes, I realize there will be survivors, lots of them. Hell, maybe even me, but I’m not counting on it. I’m glad I did what I wanted, as much as I could, before the world ended. I’m glad I spent my money while I was alive instead of wasting it on a “retirement fund.” Like I’ll live long enough to retire? BUAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    I’m not quite 50. The odds that I’ll see age 55 are far, far less than the odds that David Duchovny will dump his girlfriend, show up at my doorstep, and beg me to leave my husband for him. Hell, I think the odds of that happening are better than the odds of me seeing 51.

    1
  48. senyordave says:

    I don’t see most of Trump’s followers as cult-like. I think a very large portion of them operate on a few core principles:
    1. whatever the libs oppose they are for
    2. they believe that people of color as a group are bad for the country (although there are some “good ones”, and they personally seem to know most of them).
    3. the non-conservative media lies all the time. Objective facts don’t mean anything to many of these people.
    There are some Democrats who have similar views, who have beliefs that are objectively wrong. The difference is they are a much smaller portion of the party faithful.
    Trump has give a lot of Republicans a candidate who says what they feel deep down. They liked the way things were 100 years ago, when the blacks were pretty much non-people, and there were no other people of color to worry about.
    The worst part is Trump has mainstreamed overt racism to the point where it is barely covered by any media. I actually got this headline off of a Fox News site, but this story barely made a dent in the news (it was from July 29th):
    Trump tells voters who live in suburbs they ‘will no longer be bothered’ by low-income housing
    That isn’t a dog whistle, that is a 100 point headline saying we will make sure your part of town is all white.

    3
  49. senyordave says:

    @Nightcrawler: I have a friend who actually does projections for the CDC. The team he’s part of has done almost every possible projection, and done numerous ones assuming 100% exposure to the entire US population. The absolute worst case scenarios are several million dead in the US, not 165 million (that would be roughly 50% of the US population). Remember that not everyone who is exposed will get it, and the mortality rate in the US seems to be in the 1% to 2% range (it would go up if the hospitals were overrun).
    This is not an attempt to minimize the issue, obviously Trump handled this unimaginably bad, but the idea that half the people in this country will die from Covid-19 is not in the realm of possibility, unless there is a change in the virus.

    4
  50. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    And since the 1970s and the “Moral Majority” the GOP and American Evangelicalism have been self-reinforcing currents in US politics (and it is linked also to race–see, e.g., the segregation academies at churches across the country, especially in the SE).

    I’m happy to see you mentioned the race factor there. I think it’s really important to use the term “White American Evangelical(ism)” as the body of evidence continues to grow that its a unique vein.

    See for example:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/12/13/there-was-an-enormous-gap-between-black-evangelical-voters-and-white-evangelical-voters-in-alabama/

    2
  51. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @CSK: Thanks! I’ll have to make a trip up that way.

  52. Monala says:

    @Grewgills: At least with Bush, some of it was understandable. His faith seems to be genuine, and he seems to have some morals, at least on a personal level (e.g., he seems to be a faithful husband and loving father).

    With Trump, however, I’m reminded of the meme that says, “[white] Evangelicals have been warned about the coming of the Anti-Christ for millennia, and when he finally showed up, they voted for him.”

    5
  53. Moosebreath says:

    @CSK:

    “I tend to think that all reasonably intelligent, educated adults are non-believers or agnostics. I’m genuinely slightly startled when I meet someone of that description who’s also observant.”

    You would be surprised at the number of Jewish agnostics there are.

    1
  54. CSK says:

    @Moosebreath:
    No, I wouldn’t. I know plenty, particularly, I think, living in the northeast as I do. Some are relatives.

  55. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Fox is the official voice of Cult45. And yes, we are dealing with a cult, not a political party.

    I think calling it a cult is very optimistic. Cults seldom outlive their Dear Leader, and I have no doubt that Trumpism will outlast Trump. (It might be renamed, as we no longer call it Palinism, or Tea Party… if Cotton takes up the mantle and continues with the overt racism, can we call everyone who chooses to follow him a Cotton-Picker? Please?)

    I do think that there have been some learnings from cults — particularly to cut the followers off from outside information — but if you want to call it a cult, it’s not really a cult of Trump as the denigration of lamestream media has been going on for ages.

    1
  56. CSK says:

    @Monala:
    The anti-Christ is just about a perfect description of Trump. Thank you for sharing that.

    1
  57. Sleeping Dog says:

    @CSK:

    Key similarity is that Charles believed in the divine right of kings and the Former Reality Show Host believes that he has the power to issue any order he chooses, the Constitution be damned.

    1
  58. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: You and Dr Taylor make very strong arguments to support your positions. I will say this though–I think the most important part, whether you or Dr Taylor are right (or–both right or both wrong), is the marketing of politics (especially WRT right-wing tactics) has pushed politics into the portion of the brain most people use to process religion. There is very little nuance in that portion of the brain which leads to extremist points of view and behavior. There is a–no shit–sizable portion of right-wingers that believe Democrats are an existential threat to the United States. Sure there are people on the left that believe the same thing about Republicans—not nearly as many.

    The Michael Steele podcast I listened to with Rick Wilson of the Lincoln Project pretty much confirmed what I knew but never mentioned out loud. Right-wing Billionaires have invested in the best strategy and information warfare talent money can buy. I don’t believe Democrats truly understand what type of war they are fighting. They are not in a political battle, they are in an information battle. The right-wing infotainment complex is the center of gravity of “Conservatism/Trumpism”. It’s what’s shaping the environment and producing the personalities that foster disunity. Look, the left-wing has plenty of nuts themselves but they are mostly control. Right-wing nuts are driving the drain. Short of a campaign to disaggregate the national right-wing infotainment complex–these people will continue to sabotage ANYTHING and EVERYTHING not 100% in line with their thinking. Sure–1st amendment and all that–but this is a case where a core-value is being exploited to weaken us.

    The Jedi maintained their peace-keeping values during a war and it cost them the Order. They would have been better served innovating interpretations of their values within a new environment. Institutions with static ideology will always be overcome by the times.

    5
  59. CSK says:

    @SC_Birdflyte:
    If it’s considerably cheaper than it is in South Carolina, it might be worth making a stock-up trip. And New Hampshire has nice scenery to boot. 🙂

    2
  60. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Quite so, but a belief in divine right would make Trump similar to every monarch in western European history up to the seventeenth century. Let’s find one who’s also churlish, malevolent, stupid, bigoted, vain, self-infatuated, infantile, and selfish.

  61. Sleeping Dog says:

    @CSK:

    Henry VIII

    5
  62. @Gustopher:

    Cults seldom outlive their Dear Leader

    Indeed–and this is one of the reasons I don’t like the framing.

    1
  63. dazedandconfused says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Jim,

    Here’s a thought: Pursuit of power for power’s sake IS the Dark Side.

    2
  64. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    I don’t think he was nearly as stupid as Trump. And he was highly literate.

    2
  65. An Interested Party says:

    Racism is not smart politics

    But of course it is…it kept the Democratic Party of the past, the Dixiecrats, in total control of the South for over 100 years…it helped Hitler to seize power in Germany…even now, it is helping the GOP to maintain far more political power than raw population numbers would suggest the party should have…we hope that racism doesn’t last forever as smart politics, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t smart politics…

    3
  66. Sleeping Dog says:

    @CSK:

    Geese, you want everything. [big sigh]

  67. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    I was giving this some thought, and I realized that Trump is unique. There simply isn’t anyone who’s as awful as he is in so many ways. Neither of us will ever come up with a suitable comparison.

  68. Grewgills says:

    @CSK:
    Raban Harkonnen?

    1
  69. CSK says:

    @Grewgills:
    Close. Very close. But I was thinking of real-life counterparts.

  70. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: @Steven L. Taylor:

    I have met Trump culties who praise Trump like Jim Jones’s followers did him. And decent but low-info conservatives who couldn’t tell you what’s in the news this week and think that yeah Trump is probably trying to clean up that Washington mess.

    It’s good to remember most people don’t pay any attention to politics. We laugh when somebody doesn’t know who a supreme court justice is, but I have no idea who the top jai alai player in the world is right now, nor do I know which witch on Charmed owned a calico. I don’t follow that stuff, how could I know anything about it. It’s important to distinguish types of Trump voters. The slavering kind found in Reynolds’s comments, and the party-line, more moderate types found in Taylor’s.

    ETA damn, Apple voice recognition, you usually suck, but you successfully got which witch correct.

    1
  71. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Monala:

    “[white] Evangelicals have been warned about the coming of the Anti-Christ for millennia, and when he finally showed up, they voted for him.”

    What did you think all the teaching about the Antichrist in Fundy/Evangelical churches was for, anyway?

  72. Teve says:

    @CSK:

    This worshipfulness, this adulation is something I’ve never encountered before. Just as startling is how delusional it is. Trump is clearly not so many of the things he’s described as being.

    There are five lights.

  73. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    Sorry, I don’t follow.

  74. CSK says:

    Trump says he will accept the Republican nomination at either the White House…or Gettysburg. I wonder if he’s assuming any speech he gives will equal the Gettysburg Address.

  75. @CSK: TNG reference.

    1
  76. @Teve: This is part of my point as well and is especially why claims of universal behavior by any party adherent are problematic.

  77. CSK says:
  78. Mister Bluster says:

    Fox News
    We Distort
    You Run and Hide!