Last night, Bill Maher drew fire for putting the blame for America’s highly polarized political landscape squarely where it belongs: on Fox News.
In a special edition of Real Time with Bill Maher the HBO host brought in former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, NBC journalist Andrea Mitchell, his fellow comedian Jerry Seinfeld, and former Utah governor John Huntsman in for a special panel discussion on polarization in politics.
“I feel like the reason the people are so polarized is Fox News. I think of all the things that changed in America, Fox News changed the most. It used to be the John Birch Society came to your door once a year. Now, they’re in your TV in your living room every day and we don’t even know how to talk to each other. It’s like we have a language barrier…”
Of course some of Maher’s panelists disagreed with the usual false balance arguments. Seinfeld claimed you “can’t blame it all on Fox News” because all of the media “talks to its side” to appeal to their respective audiences. And Barbour pointed out that “Fox doesn’t have a monopoly on taking sides.”
But what these “false balance” denialists fail to take into account is that Fox News wields disproportionate influence, and that the station is far from “fair and balanced.”
In fact, many of Fox News’ on-air “personalities” are basically bought and paid for by the Koch Brothers. Charles and David Koch support their shows with advertising — for their companies and dark money political groups — and, in return, these Fox employees promote the Koch brothers’ ultra-right wing causes, both on- and off-the-air.
Media Matters reports 26 percent of Americans still get most of their news from television, and that 8 percent of these get their “news” from Fox — more than any other television station. :
At least 15 Fox News hosts and contributors have recently campaigned with two political organizations created and heavily funded by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. Many of those same Fox News personalities have also defended the Kochs from attacks and praised their political efforts on-air.