[guest post by Dana]
[Chris] Stirewalt, who was laid off…had become a controversial figure among fans of the network after he defended its early projection that Joe Biden would win Arizona based on an analysis by Fox News’ Decision Desk.
President Donald Trump was angered by the Arizona call, and his officials desperately urged Fox to retract it.
Stirewalt refused to reverse his support for the call, despite other Fox hosts’ criticism of it. He has also turned his nose up at Trump’s claims of election fraud.
In the aftermath of Stirewalt’s termination (which the network claimed to have been part of an ongoing restructuring plan but insiders say actual journalists and not just blind followers were laid off), he provides a candid look at today’s media and the consumers that news outlets seek to satisfy:
Whatever the platform, the competitive advantage belongs to those who can best habituate consumers, which in the stunted, data-obsessed thinking of our time, means avoiding at almost any cost impinging on the reality so painstakingly built around them. As outlets have increasingly prioritized habituation over information, consumers have unsurprisingly become ever more sensitive to any interruption of their daily diet.
The rebellion on the populist right against the results of the 2020 election was partly a cynical, knowing effort by political operators and their hype men in the media to steal an election or at least get rich trying. But it was also the tragic consequence of the informational malnourishment so badly afflicting the nation.
When I defended the call for Biden in the Arizona election, I became a target of murderous rage from consumers who were furious at not having their views confirmed.
Having been cosseted by self-validating coverage for so long, many Americans now consider any news that might suggest that they are in error or that their side has been defeated as an attack on them personally. The lie that Trump won the 2020 election wasn’t nearly as much aimed at the opposing party as it was at the news outlets that stated the obvious, incontrovertible fact.
While there is still a lucrative market for a balanced offering of news and opinion at high-end outlets, much of the mainstream is increasingly bent toward flattery and fluff. Most stories are morally complicated and don’t have white hats and black hats. Defeats have many causes and victories are never complete. Reporting these stories requires skill and dispassion. But hearing them requires something of consumers, too: Enough humility to be open to learning something new.
Read the whole thing.