Maybe it’s the sea air up here on the Cape but I spent last night again watching Fox News. It was like slipping into an alternative universe. Sure. I expected criticism of the president and a few outrageous zingers – but not the picture of reality that seemed to undergird the entire enterprise. But here’s the gist: the president is a lawless dictator, abetting America’s Islamist foes around the world, releasing Taliban prisoners to aid in his own jihad on America, fomenting a new caliphate in Iraq, and encouraging children to rush the Mexican border to up his vote-count, while effectively leaving those borders open to achieve his “fundamental transformation of America.”
I watched Megyn Kelly, who is regarded as more centrist than Sean Hannity. You could have fooled me. The guests were Brent Bozell, far right veteran, and Andy McCarthy, pro-torture activist touting his book calling for Obama’s impeachment. The only pushback Kelly provided to a relentless stream of hysteria was to ask whether the president sincerely wanted another terror attack on America – since it would hurt his approval ratings. And that provided the only qualification to the picture of a Jihadist in the White House determined to destroy the America he loathes. The “chaos” at the border and the emerging caliphate in Iraq may have been merely the unintended consequences of fecklessness rather than a deliberate attempt to destroy everything valuable in the United States.
At no point was any context provided to make sense of any of this. So, for example, it is axiomatic for Fox viewers that Obama has presided over a massive wave of illegals flooding the country. The truth is quite different:
If you compare [Bush's and Obama's] monthly averages [for deportations], it works out to 32,886 for Obama and 20,964 for Bush, putting Obama clearly in the lead. Bill Clinton is far behind with 869,676 total and 9,059 per month. All previous occupants of the White House going back to 1892 fell well short of the level of the three most recent presidents.
We wondered whether there might have been a surge of undocumented immigrants that explained the increase, but there wasn’t. During the first two years of Obama’s tenure, the Pew Hispanic Center estimated the illegal immigrant population nationwide at 11.2 million, compared to an average during Bush’s eight-year tenure of 10.6 million. And illegal immigration actually peaked late in Bush’s second term, at which point the recession hit and the numbers declined under Obama. Such patterns do not explain the 57 percent bump in monthly deportations that we found under Obama.
That data simply refutes the notion that we are somehow living in an era of lawlessness and massive illegal immigration. If a Republican president had done as much, he’d be a hero on Fox.
Look: I know I may be a total sucker for even hoping to see some semblance of fairness and balance on Fox. But it’s still shocking to see programming designed not to uncover reality, but to create a reality in which no counter-arguments are ever considered, and in which hysteria is the constant norm. MSNBC is almost as bad, of course, but with CNN as the new Discovery Channel, the entire possibility of a balanced newscast has disappeared from cable – and from the lives of most Americans. Again, this is not new. But as it continues, it intensifies. And as it intensifies, the possibility of governing all of the country recedes into the distance.
This is a civil war without violence. And we are two countries now.