First as Tragedy, Then as Farce: Genocidal Implications of Fox News Propaganda

What happens when a News Network spreads inflammatory statements and promulgates hate and lies?  In that case it is no longer News but propaganda. Let’s use the Google’s definition for this one: propaganda is defined as information, specifically of a biased or misrepresenting nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.

In a 2007 interview the owner of the Fox News Channel, Rupert Murdoch,  admitted to manipulating the news channel for his agenda.  He said:  “If your in the media and your concerned with whats going on in the world  you’d like to make a difference by putting forward your opinions.”


Following the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks Fox News and Murdoch have released what can only be interpreted as incendiary statements against the Muslim population. This is dangerous because it has been found that media has played a crucial role in shaping the public point of view and has been used in the past to incite hate filled killings.

“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce” -Karl Marx

On Friday January 9th 2015 Rupert Murdoch the owner of Fox News tweeted this:

Since Murdoch’ blanket statement incriminates, not only fundamentalists, but all Muslims for terrorist atrocities  and since he says The Fox News Network is “a reflection of my thinking” we must conclude that the agenda behind the Fox News Network is to further incriminate all Muslims for terrorist atrocities.

The media is not entirely as innocuous as Murdoch claims.   Evidence from the Rwandan Genocide shows that mass media had a direct impact on mobilizing populations into participating in violent crimes.  In 1994 the Rwandan Radio station “T’el’evision Libre Des Mille Collines” (RTLM) excited genocidal efforts calling for the extermination of the Tutsi minority population. Harvard studies found a direct correlation between increased violence by the Hutu population on the Tutsi and inflammatory broadcasts from the radio station.

On January 10th, 2015 Judge Jeanine Pirro gave this rant on the Fox News Network which the blogger Brian Pellot,  using a  five point test for hate speech by the Ethical Journalism Network (EJM),  was able to construct a model which considered Pirro’s rant as a form of hate speech.


The media no longer reports on reality but instead uses competing forms of spectacle and rhetoric try to to convince us of ITS OWN reality

The author of Kill the Messenger: The Media’s Role in the Fate of the World, Maria Armoudian, argues that “because of the power of media to affect our lives-for good or bad- that it is vital to create, empower and support responsible media that educates, explains and elevates, and to discard those approaches that merely blame, deprecate and divide.”

According to  Armoudian when ethical journalism is no longer practiced the result is a hegemonic message that is of an extremist ideological nature and from that you can end up with genocide.

In his critique of Nazi Propaganda philosopher Slavoj Zizek covers the topic on how this new mass mediated ideology functions: Manifold Social problems (corrupt politicians, terrorist attacks, economic collapse, moral degradation etc.) can be justified by uniting all of the problems into a common problem.  The function of ideology, as Zizek puts it, is to unite all these fears so we can trade them for one fear alone. “You need to generate an ideological narrative which explains how things went wrong in a society, not as a result of the inherent tensions in the development of this society but as the result of a foreign intruder.”

There have not been many condemnations of terrorist attacks coming from Muslim leaders either.  The “perceived” silence from the Muslim community could perhaps be further ruining how the public perceives their position.   Either way let us hope we are not at the threshold of any sort of human rights atrocity.  In fighting the monster of terror we must make sure we do not become monsters ourselves.

David Yanagizawa-Drott∗
Harvard University
August 2014

The Perverts Guide to Ideology:  Slavoj Zizek 2012

Kill the Messenger: The Medias Role in the Fate of the Worlds, Maria Armoudian 2011

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