Fox News and False Prophets

Hananiah was the son of a prophet. He was well-known in the circles of court and temple. He prophesied of peace, of optimism, of a God who would bless his people materially and spiritually. He was a false prophet.

This much is clear in hindsight because, rather than ending in two years with the return of the stolen temple objects from Babylon as Hananiah prophesied, the destruction of Jerusalem itself happened. But Hananiah’s credentials were impeccable; how could he have gotten it so wrong?

There are two things to know about Old Testament prophets. They almost never represent the status quo. They come from the margins (or, at least, represent them). They aren’t directly associated with the temple, the legitimate source of spiritual authority in Ancient Israel. The only prophet who is associated with the priests is Ezekiel, who prophesied in exile and separation from the temple and who prophesied of its destruction.

The other thing to know is that they didn’t tell the people comfortable truths. Rather, they discomfited the people at every opportunity. Isaiah prophesied of a glorious day to come, but only after Israel had been scattered and nearly destroyed. Jeremiah told the people that God had rejected the covenant with Israel and walked around wearing a yoke to symbolize their coming captivity. Ezekiel ate bread baked with poop to symbolize the quality of life Israel could expect in exile. These weren’t men inclined to tell you anything but hard truths, meant to make you repent or face the consequences. These things do not make you popular.

What makes you popular? Telling the people what they want to hear. In the case of Hananiah, it was to tell them that the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar would soon be broken. In the case of Korihor, it was to say that the poor deserved to be poor and the rich deserved to be rich. In the case of the Zoramites, it was to say that putting your trust in some man, who will get rid of the bad elements in society, will lead you to a golden future. False prophets make their money by telling us that we are already alright, that it is society or those people over there who are the problem. The comforting falsehoods are the ones that say we were right all along.

This brings us to Fox News. Rather than being a conservative news source, it is a false prophet. Its entire business plan is to tell a particular group of people (white folk) that they are not the problem, over and over and over again. Fox News’s shift over the last year and a half from conservatism to Trumpism demonstrates this. Trump is many things, but a consistent conservative, in the mold of what Fox used to champion, is not one of them. Instead, he is a white supremacist, telling folks that what is needed is to keep white folk in charge of society, determining what is acceptable and what is a capital offense (eg. being not white). And Fox has been doing its level best to follow him down this path, repeating and justifying his lies, spreading his conspiracy theories, arguing that the Democrats have done the same or worse. That isn’t the behavior of a principled conservative news source, but a false prophet, who knows the way the wind is blowing, would definitely behave this way.

Conservatism, if it is even real anymore, is the notion that societal change should be slow and that traditional sources of authority should be valued. Trump has thrown all that out the window and the false prophets at Fox have thrown whatever principles they had out the same in order to stay in the room. Beware the prophet who tells you what you want to hear; if they can’t tell the difference between God and Mammon, how will you?


  1. Spicy take, John.

  2. Do you spend all day watching Fox News? If you do, I suppose you deserve some sort of prize for enduring that. But I am curious: just who is included in your blanket condemnation of “Fox News”? Is there anyone who appears on the network that you would not include?

  3. nobody, really says:

    I have to disagree with your last paragraph. Conservatism is the notion that the government that governs best is the government that governs least. It has nothing to do with the speed of change. The three primary notions of conservatism are don’t hurt people, don’t take their stuff, and let them make their own decisions.

    And it is spelled “Israel”.

  4. Yet Another John says:

    Trump and the far right didn’t just come out of nowhere. The ground was well prepared by previous administrations. Everything you said about Fox News applies equally well, if not more so, to CCN and MSNBC and their fawning adoration of an impotent president and his administration.

  5. Shy Saint says:

    Popping the corn and getting ready to settle into a comfy chair.

  6. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    nobody, really: that’s not what Edmund Burke would have said, or for that matter William F. Buckley.

  7. Nobody,

    What you describe sounds more like libertarianism to me, not conservatism.

  8. Mark B.
    I have lived in the South for many years. It is seemingly on every tv in every waiting room. It is the ubiquitous sound of idling there. So I’ve seen a lot of it. If you ask me, I’d say any of the editorial shows fall under this condemnation (Fox and Friends, Hannity, Outnumbered, The Five, etc.). I’m told that the straight news sections of Fox generally are good enough, although I’d tend to question that since they seem to follow the emphases of the remainder of the channel. And, honestly, straight news is such a small portion of what happens on that channel that it is hardly relevant to this post.

    Thank you for pointing out the typo. It has been corrected. You are, as has been pointed out, talking about libertarianism.

    Yet Another Me,
    I respectfully submit that the relationship between President Trump and Fox News is unprecedented in the American Cable News era and to see otherwise, applied to President Obama or anyone else, is patently ridiculous or willfully dishonest. You’re allowed to pick which applies to you.

  9. All the Fox News people and all the MSNBC people need to read Tom Hardman’s post underneath this one – “Complementarity and the Gospel”. Maybe the two opposite views can come together, complement each other and come up with the best answer.

  10. Not a fan of Fox News, but all cable news talking head shows are equal in telling their demographics what they want to hear. One reason I cancelled cable and listen to pbs news only. These political and racist posts are getting a little old. The world will spin long after Trump is done.

  11. I don’t have any real notion of the number of false prophets on MSNBC (I don’t like Lawrence O’Donnell, Rachael Maddow is a person, Morning Joe? and that’s about it for my knowledge of them folks). Maybe if I had lived in a liberal area, MSNBC would have been on all the waiting room TVs. I don’t know. That said, the ratings of MSNBC were minuscule compared to Fox prior to the Trump administration. So if that was where Obama was stashing his cheerleaders, he should have chosen a bigger forum.

  12. I really did enjoy the religious part of this post.
    I don’t think being a conservative makes you hate other races, or subjugate them. How many of the people calling the police on people of color just going about their lives have been liberals living in liberal areas? Just about all.

  13. Mormom,
    I too would love to blithely ignore all the evil being done in the name of Trump, reasoning that we’ll all be dead from climate change within a hundred years or something, but I’m actually trying to not let my personal discomfort with hard truths lead me to avoid them in search of a more comfortable ignorance. I can’t make people keep staring at this mess, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to shut up about it. You have a nice day though.

  14. Mormom,
    We agree that white supremacy is not solely the arena of political conservatives. Believing that the white supremacists are those people over there, instead of looking in your own heart or worldview, is definitely one of the things that got us to this point.

  15. Inequality was a problem way before Trump. I don’t actually think he has made things worse. People are just paying attention now. Putting all the blame on Trump is making him a scapegoat. I dislike him, but a president actually has very little power. We spoke up about separating children from their parents at the border and it’s being changed. I think that is a good thing and something we need to keep doing. What was Barack Obama doing about immigration? Nothing, except deporting people. Where were the protests? Using Trump as a scapegoat makes us feel comfortable that he is the problem, and a problem we can solve. Democrats had huge majorities in the house and senate and wouldn’t reform immigration or guns because of THEIR constituents. It isn’t just republicans or white people that are the problem if you want progressive change.

    I don’t get why anyone would vote for Trump. I consider myself a moderate. There is something going on with underprivileged people making them vote Trump that I don’t think a lot of us who are more comfortable economically understand.

  16. The comments after that article I posted are eye opening, in my opinion.

  17. Rexicorn says:

    Mormom, most Trump voters are affluent:

    His policies are wildly popular among the uber-rich, because they benefit from them. Demographically, though, the best predictor for a Trump supporter is still race.

    But really, this post is about Fox News, which has demonstrated a really unprecedented turn toward fawning on this president. Other networks having a bias or a point of view does not make them equivalent.

    Beware any institution that only tells you what you want to be true, especially if they want something from you (like money or power).

  18. Anonforthis says:

    Immigration attorney here. Things have never been great for immigrants, but Trump has made it far, far worse. He’s stopped or tried to stop DACA and TPS (which allow for over one million people to live and work in the U.S.) He’s ramped up deportations numbers, focusing on deporting high numbers instead of deporting criminals. He’s made immigration processes, such as the green card process, much more difficult. He engineered the separation of families at the border in order to deter immigration. He’s sharply reduced the amount of refugees admitted to the U.S., and he’s made it more difficult for people to get asylum.

    President Obama certainly was problematic when it came to immigration, but nothing like this. Keep in mind that President Obama introduced DACA and tried to introduce DAPA, which provided and would have provided relief to millions of immigrants.

  19. Yet Another John says:

    John C., Thanks for “respectfully” replying to my comment and “allowing” me to choose to be either stupid or a liar. All I was saying is that Fox News, President Trump, and the people that support either one did not spring unbidden out of the ether. Personally, I think that Trump is just the flip side of the coin that we have been dealt for years. Politics, and reporting, as usual.

  20. Is it lunch time yet? says:

    I’m a conservative both in my politics and in my mormonism. But I will not touch Fox News with a 50 foot pole. It, along with most conservative news sources, is like fast food. Sure you can live on it, but it will slowly tear you apart on the inside.

    Conservatism needs new blood. Trump is certainly new blood but, IMHO, not the right kind.

  21. Mormom,
    While admittedly very few of these problems sprung up whole during Trump’s administration, that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t made most of them worse. He has. Seemingly deliberately so.

    No, another John, you didn’t. You said that CNN and MSNBC were equivalent to Fox, which they are not. You are also seemingly implying that this it is somehow the fault of the mainstream media that Fox News exists. That doesn’t follow. I’ll admit that CNN and other mainstream media gave Trump too much airtime prior to the last election, but I still wouldn’t blame his victory primarily on them. That’s the fault of the white male white supremacists.

  22. Yet Another John: “allowing” me to choose to be either stupid or a liar”

    Hey, maybe you’re both?

  23. James Stone says:

    “What makes you popular? Telling the people what they want to hear. In the case of Hananiah, it was to tell them that the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar would soon be broken. In the case of Korihor, it was to say that the poor deserved to be poor and the rich deserved to be rich. In the case of the Zoramites, it was to say that putting your trust in some man, who will get rid of the bad elements in society, will lead you to a golden future.”

    In modern times it’s people saying the church will change the law of chasity to better reflect worldly values, that the prophets are old, white men and are out of touch with the times, and that you can pick and choose what aspects of Mormonism to follow and still be saved.

  24. James Stone,
    “In modern times it’s people saying the church will change the law of chasity to better reflect worldly values, that the prophets are old, white men and are out of touch with the times, and that you can pick and choose what aspects of Mormonism to follow and still be saved.”
    Possibly. Or it could be the people telling you that your racism and homophobia is justified, hardly an unpopular opinion in the Mountain West.

  25. “arguing that the Democrats have done the same or worse.”

    Haven’t seen a second of Fox News in years, however recent trip to a Japanese concentration camp (where citizens were detained under order of FDR) has reminded me that horrific racist actions know no exclusively to any specific party.

  26. jpv,

  27. Yet Another John says:

    Trying to think of a snarky reply, Steve, but maybe I’m guilty as charged.


  28. I try to fight my confirmation bias by checking out respectable right-leaning news sources. The National Review and the Weekly Standard are pretty good and the Deseret News has its moments.

    I agree with the post. I love a lot of people who are existing on another plane of reality from mine due in large part to where they get their news. We cannot discuss anything outside of small personal details.

  29. I don’t get why anyone would vote for Trump. I consider myself a moderate.

    They probably do too.

  30. Brother Sky says:

    Interesting post. I lean to the left and as Marian points out, it’s a good idea to avoid confirmation bias, which is why I avoid MSNBC as much as I avoid Fox. As she notes, not every right-leaning news source is like Fox News. Your comment about truth and telling people what they want to hear also resonates for me on a church level. As repugnant as Trump’s insistence upon things that aren’t true is, how different is it really from what the LDS Church does/has done? When someone challenges our “truth” claims, don’t we just insist even harder that they are true instead of providing any kind of objectively convincing evidence? And don’t some of our truths harm huge swaths of people who aren’t white, male and heterosexual? Just wondering.

  31. John C., your response to James Stone is pretty damn hypocritical. Your post is all about prophets telling us things that make us uncomfortable, but what do you, John C., do, when our prophet tells you something that makes you uncomfortable? This is what every single poster at BCC does: throw a never-ending hissy fit and explore every possible angle of fallibility in order to avoid taking the prophets at their word. And in your answer to James, you immediately jump on that bandwagon. You’re ready to throw our prophets under the bus as homophobes and racists.

    So let’s hear it. Are you prepared to follow our prophet when he tells you something that makes you uncomfortable? Or are you going to toss him aside and go looking for a prophet who’s a better fit for your tastes so you can keep calling out other peoples’ false prophets?

  32. In By- hear! hear!

  33. I was just waiting for someone call out the ‘Your a hypocrite because yyoouu don’t submit to the uncomfortable things the modern prophets have said’ argument.

    But in order to weaponize the second characteristic of a OT prophet, you entirely ignored the first. From the post: “There are two things to know about Old Testament prophets. (1) They almost never represent the status quo. They come from the margins (or, at least, represent them). They aren’t directly associated with the temple, the legitimate source of spiritual authority in Ancient Israel.”

    See the challenge…?

  34. Hey ReTx,

    Challenge accepted: No the Q15 are not in the mold of OT prophets. They are modern prophets. That is, they are called of God in line of succession from Joseph Smith who received priesthood authority from John the Baptist, then Peter, James, and John, and then further authority or keys from Moses, Elijah, et. al. By that authority and exercising those keys they guide and direct the Lord’s restored Church in these latter-days.

    Now here’s a challenge to you. Tell us, please, did JS receive restored priesthood keys from the angelic visitors named above, and if so, does President Nelson today hold those same keys for the directing of the Lord’s restored Church?

  35. “FOX news and Trump did not create distrust in the media, distrust in the media created Trump!”

    People will eventually stop believing you when everything republicans do is “literally, Hitler!” Or that conservatives are racist, sexist, chauvinist, homophobes.

  36. Brother Sky,
    Certainly, we’ve done harm to people who don’t fit the mold. And are, without a doubt, continuing to do harm. Ideally, the good the church does will outweigh that on some cosmic scale, but that doesn’t help someone in the middle of their pain today. I don’t know how to prevent harm entirely, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to minimize it. Hopefully, we learn from our mistakes and allow God to push us closer to him.

    In By and Roy,
    Hi guys. Welcome to BCC. It’s like you know us. I can’t speak for everyone around here, but one of the things I value about the church is how its teachings differ from my inclinations frequently, leading me to question the things I believe and to try to see where and if they are leading me back to Christ. Sure, I’m not perfect and I’m also a hypocrite, but that makes me pretty much like everyone else on earth. I’m not happy about it but I’m trying to do better.

    That said, if you’ll read my actual response to James Stone, rather than the version that you are making up in your head, you’ll note that the first thing I do is to acknowledge that he might be right. Then the next thing I do is say that we should listen to the people telling us to set aside age-old prejudice and be kind to people on the margins. I find little in there that the Brethren would disagree with (even if things like the Nov 5 policy seem to argue otherwise).

    But you aren’t interested in my written words, you instead want to look deep into my soul. I’m calling folks to repentance in the OP, so why not call me to repentance in the comments? Fair enough. I’m due for some self-reflection. But I do object to the use of the term “hissy fit.” This was a relatively reasonable argument. Evidence was presented and everything.

    All I can figure is that you are that rarest of things outside of reddit and 4chan, the publically unrepentant Trump voter. Or perhaps just someone who, while voting for Evan McMullan, is still kind of pleased with how Trump is triggering the libs. I may be wrong, of course, but if I’m not, then you, sir, are a cad and a scoundrel. Good day!

  37. Will,
    It’s true. Our modern prophets aren’t exactly like OT prophets. They are more like Book of Mormon prophets, who were closely associated with the church and, at times, even lead it. Of course, the church then was frequently corrupted by internal strife and pride, particularly when people began to value personal property over other human beings. As folks say, the church is perfect, even if the people in it aren’t.

    I can’t speak for other people, but I do believe that the leadership of the church was called to be its leadership. And they have a right to revelation on behalf of the church. But it is between the individual member and God to determine what that means for them. Judge not and all that jazz.

    In fact, I’m calling a moratorium on demanding people express how they feel about President Nelson. It’s not relevant to the original post, its rude, and its just a stupid power play. If you’re sufficiently unimaginative as to not understand that people can have nuanced testimonies then that is your fault, not someone else’s.

    Mark L,
    The conservative movement could be doing a lot better at demonstrating it isn’t Hitler right about now. Ain’t no media forced them to do that.

  38. I.B. –

    “Now here’s a challenge to you. Tell us, please, did JS receive restored priesthood keys from the angelic visitors named above, and if so, does President Nelson today hold those same keys for the directing of the Lord’s restored Church?”

    Well, there is zero empirical evidence of either, but I chose to go on faith that yes, the stories we are told by our leadership have at the center of them (if not always at the outskirts) an eternal truth. However, what is eternal truth and what is the biases/social behaviors of man is a giant fuzzy area for me. I deal with it through trying to understand the brain, studying human social dynamics, and prayer. Good enough answer for you?

  39. Errr… Sorry. I ready the request not to get into personal feelings about Pres. Nelson, etc. right after posting. Feel free to delete my post if you’d prefer.

  40. You’re fine, ReTx. It’s the demands more than the answers I find offensive.

  41. This analysis of current politics and news is uneven, unreasonably selective, and simplistic. I don’t understand how this piece got posted by BCC. The analogy between Hananiah and Fox News is especially weak, because the similarities it suggests are forced and uncritical. I do not watch Fox News, nor did I vote for President Trump. Still, I’m fair-minded enough to recognize a lopsided piece of partisan defamation.

  42. Jiminy,
    You’re wrong.

  43. Doesn’t watch Fox News, but is “fair-minded” enough to describe a criticism of Fox News as “defamation.”

    If you want to keep your head in the sand, I can kind of respect that. We all have to cope somehow. But if you’re going to make a comment about this stuff, you at least have to know what you’re talking about. Ignorance and fair-mindedness don’t go together.

  44. Loursat, I mean to say I’m not a Fox News fanboy. Yes, I do, on occasion, watch the network, particularly during election years, to get that perspective, just as I watch CNN, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, Daily Wire, Young Turks, etc. During the 2016 Primaries, I saw FN throw its full support behind Trump, and I know its coverage currently treats President Trump the way MSNBC treated President Obama. My point is, my criticism of John C’s piece is not coming from the perspective of a Trump-supporting, FN-cheering fanboy. Fair-minded Independents and Democrats and Libertarians can see John’s piece for what it is.

    John C., gosh, I guess that settles the matter.

  45. Loursat, I should add that his defamation is in calling the President a white supremacist; it’s not about his criticism of FN.

  46. Well, Jiminy, I see where you’re coming from, but you’re still wrong.

    First, anyone who has some historical perspective will recognize that Fox News is unlike any other television news operation ever. It is wrong to say that MSNBC or any other network is the equivalent of Fox News. Unlike other networks, Fox News rejects the possibility of an independent, objective news media. The network was founded on the idea that it could be a cash-generating propaganda machine for whoever was ascendant on the far right. Its first CEO was Roger Ailes, a man who had built an entire career on partisan political image-making and who never did a day of journalism in his life. Trump’s ceaseless campaign to smear the media is a continuation of Fox’s modus operandi. He learned it from Fox. In short, John C. is exactly right about Fox News.

    Second, Trump is a white supremacist. In a defamation suit, any competent trial lawyer could feel absolutely confident taking that one to a jury.

    Being fair-minded does not mean straining to find equivalencies that keep you feeling balanced and in the center of things. That’s the mind-set that assumes there must be “very fine people on both sides.” Being fair-minded means informing oneself as deeply as possible and making level-headed judgments, even when those judgments are hard to bear.

  47. First time on this site. I’m not here to fight.

    John C, I’m on your side. I think you saw a genuine problem and decided to say something about it. That’s to be applauded.

    But I think you should rethink your tactics.

    I agree with your article, but of course I do. I agreed with it before I read it. It’s the kind of thing where you read it, and there are two possible reactions:

    1. “This is so true! I’m so glad that I’m right, and that I’m more righteous than people who disagree.”

    2. “This guy is saying that I’m following a false prophet? How dare he! I’m going to search for every possible flaw in his argument or character so that I can prove him wrong.”

    The result is that you’re telling some people what they want to hear, but the people who really need to hear the message will ignore its validity because you didn’t challenge them, you offended them.

    The comments are even worse. Belittling everyone who tries to engage in debate with you… Look at what you’re doing! You’re driving them away. You can do better. Be better.

    Talk to people. Let them see why you are right. If their arguments are flawed, show them. Help them to be better.

    Also, my conscience would be remiss if I didn’t call you out on the moral relativism. This part is unrelated to the rest of my post.

    “And [the prophets] have a right to revelation on behalf of the church. But it is between the individual member and God to determine what that means for them. Judge not and all that jazz.”

    It’s important not to judge. That is independent of the fact that some things are right and some things are wrong. You believe that, or you wouldn’t be telling people not to be racist and homophobic.

    Sometimes you’ll be right and other people will be wrong. Sometimes vice versa. That doesn’t give either party the right to judge, but it also doesn’t justify wrongdoing.

    To tie it back to the main post, if we each just get to decide what the commandments mean for us, we’ll just be telling ourselves what we want to hear. By standing as a middleman between the true prophets and our own application, we become false prophets ourselves.

    I don’t think you disagree with me on this. I just had to object to the phrasing. Thanks for writing the article and trying to do good things!

  48. Jiminy,
    You supply only assertions, I respond in kind. Also, if you can’t see that Trump is a white supremacist, You’re probably not worth debating.

    First of all, thank you for taking the time to write all that. It is kind of you to walk me through it. But, if I’m being honest, I’m not trying to persuade. This is more of a Jeremiad, where I am judging and condemning a mindset and mourning where that mindset has led us as a country (and, unfortunately, frequently as a church).

    This isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve compared Ron Paul to Korihor, compared George Bush to worshippers of Moloch, and I once wrote a post saying that Obama wasn’t Jesus. This is sorta my schtick. If persuading people was my aim, I’d spend a lot more time telling my potentially persuaded audience what good and reasonable people they are.

    But let’s be honest, the people this is aimed at are Trump supporters or Trump sympathizers and they are neither good nor reasonable (at least when it comes to politics). And salving their egos, telling them their concerns are worthy of consideration, is distasteful to me. Not just because I find so much of what they believe odious, but because they are not serious about the debate. Jiminy up there is trying to assert that Trump isn’t a white supremacist. In By was so convinced he knew what I was saying that he didn’t read what I wrote. These aren’t the actions of serious people, interested in hearing what the other side has to say.

    Finally, of course I’m aware of the danger of altering the Gospel until it suits you. It is, again, a reason why I try to listen to the Brethren, even when they do things I find unacceptable. But I’m not unique in that. We all are cafeteria Mormons, strict adherents to the commandments we find compelling and neglectful of those we find inconvenient. Being aware of it is the first step to repenting of it, but it’s a long, hard road to avoid the habit. May we all learn to do so.

  49. John C., with the exception of your forced analogy to the Old Testament, your entire OP comprises mere assertions.

    Loursat, MSNBC is the FN of the left, only more ideological – at least historically – and far less financially successful. This fact about political leanings has been shown statistically in several studies by Pew and various universities. You are not informed on the data.

    Trump, throughout decades of supporting the democratic party and golfing with leftist politicians and celebrities, was not a white supremacist, and he didn’t suddenly become one as president, despite his pathetic reticence to condemn white supremacy after the Charlottesville protests.

  50. John C… I’m a never-Trump Republican. However, anyone making a claim like “Trump supporters or Trump sympathizers… are neither good nor reasonable (at least when it comes to politics). And salving their egos, telling them their concerns are worthy of consideration, is distasteful to me” strikes me as an incomplete perspective. While I personally despise Trump, I do understand the legitimate concerns of many that support him. Yes, there are some racists in that bunch. But the Trump nightmare and his Fox propaganda machine is much more a response to government ignoring “the least of these” than it is about race. The same factors explain the rightful (and similarly distasteful) socialist presidential candidate from the left, Bernie Sanders.

    These Trump and Bernie fans are a lot of people that have recognized the elitist cabal of big government and big business that run the American political establishment. It’s a modern gathering of Gadianton robbers, regardless of party affiliation. They saw the complete lack of accountability for the big business bailout (while individuals lost life savings and homes) of two economic meltdowns on the 2000’s. They saw the complete lack of accountability for all of our sons and daughters, predominantly from rural American communities, sent to fight and die in middle east oil wars. They saw the absence of any viable political response to the export of millions of American jobs in the name of globalism. All those things, while great for the elites, have ravaged those on the lower rungs of American society. Trump is not the answer (Neither was Bernie or Hillary). In fact, I believe he makes the problem worse.

    The answer is genuine concern and supporting public policy for the least of these in our society. Those people are not particular races, genders, specific sexual orientations, certain religions, or any other ‘groups’. They are just people in our community that need our support. I think that is a lot of what Jesus taught during his ministry. Easy to talk. Hard to do.

  51. Jiminy, Trump was racist when he discriminated against black people who rented in his buildings in the and he was racist when he attacked the (innocent) Central Park 5 in the 1980s. He was racist last year when he defended white supremacists and he was racist when he said s***hole countries and he was racist when he called Mexicans rapist and murderers and he was racist when he attached a Latino judge solely for his parentage.

    I don’t know what line crosses from racism to white supremacy, but it seems like a silly thing to quibble about. He was racist decades ago and he’s racist now. If he is not a white supremacist himself then we can see he is content to be their champion. Isn’t that bad enough?

  52. Jiminy,
    MSNBC, to my knowledge, never had the influence over the presidency that Fox News has had over Trump, nor did they ever engage in a back and forth like Trump and Fox News do. It is a false equivalency. Obama, as an example, continued to send his folks on Fox (and appeared there himself), while Trump actively shuts out other networks. But this has already been talked over in the comments. If you refuse to see reason, that’s not on me or the left anymore.

    Trump has always been a white supremacist. It didn’t suddenly magically happen when he became President. You only need to track his history in housing, with the Central Park 5, and his public record. You are correct that he used to hang out with the political left of center, but that doesn’t really demonstrate anything other than white supremacists can also come from that side of the aisle. Which thing we knew and already acknowledged above. But he is a white supremacist and his supporters and sympathizers are happy to have one in the White House, which is why they are anathema to me.

    As for whether or not Fox News is a false prophet, could you show me where the analogy falls flat? That is, at least, on topic.

    It has been demonstrated over and over again that most Trump voters are either materially well-off or people who’ve placed themselves in a news vacuum by only watching Fox News. This isn’t a case of ignoring the least. Or rather, that doesn’t explain Trump’s election to the same degree that white supremacy does.

  53. As a former fan of Fox News who can hardly stand to watch it anymore, I’m very sympathetic to the criticisms found in the original post. But I think we should clarify what Fox News is: It is NOT a conservative mouthpiece as I (a conservative) once thought it was. It’s a money making organization that had identified a demographic (afflicted white males) and like our president, caters to its chosen demographic. You think Trump and Obama play to their base? That’s nothing compared to MSNBC and Fox News. They simply do everything they can to keep their viewers happy. Once it was apparent that Trump was going to win the Republican nomination Fox News had to change from “conservative” to “Trump”. In sum, Fox News and its hosts (Tucker C, Sean H, and Laura I) play to their audience, plain and simple.

    Not sure how all this relates to OT prophets but I will say this: The Church is very concerned about its image and it plays to its audience too.

  54. Kristin Brown says:

    I am wondering if Shy Saint popped enough popcorn or if she had to go back to the kitchen.

  55. Fox News has mastered the art of monetizing hate and fear. MSNBC has monetized extreme concern. There is a huge difference.

    I am concerned because of the facts of the situation: Trump lies. Fox News repeats the lies. MSNBC tries to check the facts.

  56. Kind of enjoying the show. It’s a John C special!

    For a critical review, I think you could make a little more of the fact (I believe fact) that prophets tend to challenge the power structure and false prophets tend to appeal to the current power structure. It helps avoid some of the false equivalency nonsense. Also, the audience this time is better described as white men (in my opinion). Statistics tell me that white women are really mixed as voters and as part of the power structures. And the small amount of Fox that I see and read about seems pitched to a white male audience.

  57. John C, your picture of the relationship between news networks, on the one hand, and, on the other, Presidents Obama and Trump is as selective and uneven as the OP.

    No, the Central Park Five situation is not inculpatory evidence of white supremacy. Your appeal to his “public record” is too vague to assess. Please stop calling Trump’s supporters “white supremacists” without qualification. White supremacists comprise an extremely tiny fraction of the tens of millions of Trump supporters. Do you think this kind of language is responsible writing?

    As to the analogy, I’m scratching my head why you think that a pre-exilic Israelite who claimed to represent YHWH and delivered a false foretelling about Babylon for an unknown motive is analogous to a 21st century cable news network that, like other networks, frames news stories according to its viewership for a profit motive. What?? Truly strange.

    If you had simply criticized FN for being unprincipled – without the bad analogy, unevenness, and defamation – I’d have fully agreed with you, for whatever that’s worth.

  58. Jiminy,
    I guess we’re gonna do this. I hope you enjoy it.

    Can you name me one instance where President Obama tweeted about a show on MSNBC or CNN while that show was still on the air? For that matter when he tweeted about a show on a news network at all? Did President Obama shill for a book from an MSNBC anchor from the Oval Office (which thing breaks the law)? Did he call into their morning show to just chat with his buddies? Did Obama welcome left-wing bloggers into the White House while calling Fox News and CNN the enemy of the people? Sure MSNBC might have favored him, but the relationship between Obama and the press and Trump and the press is easily distinguished, unless you are choosing to not see for ideological reasons.

    Maybe if the Central Park 5 incident, or the allegations regarding his housing practices, or the statements about murderers and rapists, or immigrants infecting our country, or shithole countries (but Norway being okay), or the good people on both sides, or the Taco Bowl on cinco de mayo, or calling the black football players protesting police violent sons of bitches, or the making America great again (like it was in the 50s) taken in isolation might not indicate that Trump is a white supremacist. But together you would need to choose to be blind for ideological reasons to not understand that he is a white supremacist.

    Also, I never said that all trump supporters were white supremacists. I do say that they are all okay with having a white supremacist in the white house, which isn’t much better and may indicate that they are white supremacists, but I can’t look into their hearts.

    Hananiah engaged in his prophecy before the priests initially and later before all the people, humiliating Jeremiah in the process by breaking his yoke. I suppose that it is possible he did this as a practical joke or some such but reading the chapter in its context it seems pretty clear to me that he was appealing to the people of Israel and their king, Zedekiah, in a manner that was appealing to them. They chafed heavily under Babylon’s yoke (many of the people had already been taken and Zedekiah, in particular, felt the burden of being a vassal king). A prophet who comes along and tells people that the end of the captivity and the exile of the temple furniture is pretty dang near is a prophet who is telling the people what they want to hear. As Jeremiah says to Hananiah, “The Lord hath not sent thee, but thou makest this people to trust in a lie.” I may be wrong, I suppose, but if I’m right then this is clearly relevant to the accusation I’m making about Fox News, which is that they tell people what they want to hear.

    Which brings me to my last point: you don’t understand journalism. Journalists do not “[frame] news stories according to [their] viewership for a profit motive.” In the American tradition, journalists do their best to find the objective truth, making their reporting reliable, which creates a product that people are willing to pay for. You are admitting with this statement that you think Fox News is ideological and telling its viewers what it judges they want to hear. So you appear to agree with the opening post. Congratulations! We’ve come full circle.

    In all this, you still haven’t convinced me that you’re serious. You are straining at gnats and swallowing camels. I think we’ve come about as far as we’re gonna get in this discussion, don’t you?

  59. Anon for this one says:

    John C. – While I agree with a good lot of what you said, this isn’t entirely true:

    “In the American tradition, journalists do their best to find the objective truth, making their reporting reliable, which creates a product that people are willing to pay for.”

    Which I say after having spent 30 years of my father’s journalism career listening to him complain about the endless meetings and rules he had to put up with on how to *present* the news in the way that reflected the values of the organization he worked for.

    It’s naive to think this hasn’t been going on for a very long time (Dad is long retired at this point.). WIth that, he will agree that there was always an awareness that the organization could only go so far or lose credibility. That hasn’t proven to be true with Fox News.

  60. it's a series of tubes says:

    “In the American tradition, journalists do their best to find the objective truth, making their reporting reliable, which creates a product that people are willing to pay for.”

    This is often true. But over the last 20 years, I’ve had firsthand, with-my-own-eyes-and-ears knowledge of several high-profile incidents which were widely reported in the local, national, and international media. Sometimes, a news organization got things wrong through being insufficiently diligent, or simply by making a mistake. But surprisingly often, I watched the organization lie. Deliberately. With full knowledge of what they were doing. And in each instance, it was to further an ideological narrative.

    Fox News lies. MSNBC lies. CNN lies. The BBC, and the New York Times, and the Deseret News all lie. The degree, and the regularity, may vary from organization to organization, but it’s foolish to believe that it doesn’t happen, and perhaps even more foolish to believe that the practice isn’t equally distributed along the political spectrum.

  61. There has always been tension in journalism between the ideal of truthful reporting and, on the other hand, the moneyed interests that own news businesses. Smart readers always, at every time and place in history, have to be thoughtful and critical about the sources of information. But there is a clear line between journalism and propaganda. The achievement of Fox News has been to erase that line in the minds of millions of its viewers. Fox presents propaganda and calls it journalism. In practice, Fox exists to persuade its viewers that journalism is not possible, for all is propaganda. It is Fox’s grandest and most successful lie. This makes Fox News unique.

    As many have observed elsewhere, pissing on the idea of journalism while pretending to do the opposite is what fascists and authoritarians do. Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes probably weren’t thinking about fascists and authoritarians when they got Fox News going; they just wanted money and power for themselves. But their absolute cynicism created a set of ideas that has helped to weaken the influence of journalism even further at a time when the economics of the business were already crumbling. Their absolute cynicism helped make possible the rise of actual authoritarians and neo-fascists in America.

  62. Well, Loursat said what I was going to say only better. I’ll leave it there, I think.

  63. Folks, I think I’m going to wrap this puppy up. We’ve all said our piece and folks can make up their own minds. You’ve got about an hour to get in your last ideas and then, barring something unusual, I’m shutting the thread down.

  64. “The achievement of Fox News has been to erase that line in the minds of millions of its viewers. Fox presents propaganda and calls it journalism. In practice, Fox exists to persuade its viewers that journalism is not possible, for all is propaganda. It is Fox’s grandest and most successful lie. This makes Fox News unique.”

    This is perfectly stated, Loursat. Excellent summation of a piercing and necessary post. Thanks John C. and Loursat!

  65. I can’t speak to the main theme of the post (I’m a never-Trumper who hasn’t watched Fox News for years in part because of their support for Trump), but there was one thing that I saw in your post that demanded a link or citation (I even listened to the entire link you posted [really? MTV? that’s what you went with?]. I am not aware of anything that supports the allegation:

    “determining what is acceptable and what is a capital offense (eg. being not white)”

    I see three possibilities. First, if Trump has actually stated that being not white is a capital offense, then the time has come to absolutely riot in the streets (and this from a Conservative).

    Second, Trump never said this but it is reliant on reading between lines or various interpretations. If this is the case, then I believe this is absolutely reckless of you to have included this uncited. Provide a citation for this claim so others can see where you are interpreting this from.

    Third, it is hyperbole and a figure of speech and you didn’t ‘actually’ mean capital offense. But with our troubled history when you call someone a white supremacist and talk of not being white as a capital offense, it will not readily be understood as a figure of speech.

    Please either make the cite (if legitimate, I will join you is condemning this), delete this reference, or come up with a better figure of speech clearly identified as such.

  66. no.
    And with that, we’re done. Ya’ll have a nice day.

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