When Fox News Lies, Actual People Die

Illustration for article titled When Fox News Lies, Actual People Die

Fox News is usually so aggressively full of shit that it's easy to believe that no one takes it seriously. I mean sure, you know that some people (maybe even people in your own family) are watching it and eating it up, but generally you let yourself believe that everyone deep down understands that it should be taken with enough grains of salt to fill the Atlantic Ocean. It's also tempting just to dismiss their special kind of hackery as either enraging or amusing drivel and leave it at that—and, yes, there are times when it even gives you a good laugh (after you're done weeping, of course). But then along comes a story like this to remind us that, in fact, the spread of outright lies masquerading as journalism does have real world consequences—and they can quite literally be deadly.

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The story comes via Facebook, where Tracy Knauss posted the above image along with this message:

I know this personally. FOX News killed my precious mother, Hallie. She watched FOX religiously. And when she fell ten days before she died, she refused to go to the doctor because, "I don't want Obamacare to get all of my information! she declared, recalling the warnings from FOX News "anchors." She was emphatic. She was not going to consort with the muslim enemy. As she made out her will she told her lawyer, "I don't want any of my money going to the Muslim Brotherhood!" And her last protestation dealt with "Obama's death panels." Mother died just days later. I hold FOX News responsible for my mother's death.

That is plainly awful, and, while this could easily be total bullshit, it sadly doesn't seem to be. As Crooks and Liars points out, one Hallie Jean Mayes Knauss Culpepper, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, died on February 16th of this year. And her obituary describes her as a "lifelong, dyed-in-the-wool Republican." Her fear of doctors must have stemmed from all the death panel talk that never seems to end on that blessed network.

If you're tempted to think of Ms. Culpepper as some kind of ignorant crazy person, don't. She owned a company that manufactured stainless steel kitchen equipment and was a completely functional member of society. Sure, there might have been other factors involved in allowing her to be so paralyzed by this irrational fear, but certainly a healthy serving of blame for her reluctance to seek medical attention can be traced right back to the lovely "fair and balanced" folks at Fox News. In fact, those same folks might want to think twice before continuing to spread these kinds of lies. If their relatives like to watch the channel that employs them, they just might end up having the very same problem on their hands when Grandpa or Auntie Marion refuses to go to the doctor on account of the evil menace that is Obamacare and ends up dead.

Fox News Lies; An Elderly Woman Dies [Crooks and Liars]

DISCUSSION

bmcgrgr
Upper-Middlebrow

To all those who feel strongly that this woman's own "psycho idiocy" is what killed her,

I know a great many elderly men and women who hold essentially liberal values regarding women's rights and equality for gay people, as well as a host of other issues, but their general (and usually hidden) tendency toward agoraphobia and isolationism fostered by growing up through WWII and the Cold War, coupled with an implicit trust in the integrity of journalists and reporters (especially famous successful ones) makes them ideal targets for the literal brainwashing that Fox News aims towards. Then you add the vulnerability and gullibility that often comes with Alzheimer's/Dementia that some commentators have mentioned, and I don't see how anyone could be so cruelly dismissive.

I'm sure there is some psychological term for this sort of "otherism," where people are frankly uninterested in engaging in empathy for people who differ from them on issues like these. Even if one can't imagine this happening to one's self or family members, it takes a pretty inefficient mind to flatly blame someone for their own actions under the mantle of "responsibility for your own actions," while ignoring that their influences and experiences differ greatly from your own.

Many people here are expressing the sentiment that if you have critical thinking skills and an independent, unprejudiced mind (while silently congratulating themselves and those like them on possessing these two admirable traits,) you won't be susceptible to this sort of blatant misinformation and dangerous propaganda. I'm pleased to learn that, since I'd always wondered how that nasty Third Reich got off the ground. It must be because the people of Germany are historically so weak minded.

Of course I believe that every capable minded person is responsible for their own actions, but thinking that this couldn't have happened to anyone unless they were previously a bigoted idiot would make you a bit of a bigoted idiot.