The scary thing? I think Scherer is unfortunately right about Ailes and Palin, and even Palin herself is partly correct. Not about "other" networks being biased (though you could fairly say that about both Fox and its liberal counterpart, MS-NBC), but about people "not believing that stuff." The core of the problem, I think, is that the vast majority people on both sides of the political spectrum and everywhere in between have a hard time separating fact from opinion. Someone on TV or the web says something, and if it strikes an emotional chord with the viewer, they'll disregard whether or not the supporting facts cited -- if any -- are true. Then they scream that the other side is distorting or disregarding facts that support their own view.
The reader comments on Scherer's post are very illuminating. Many of them concern the issue of elitism vs. populism, and what it means to be elitist:
- "It's very easy to make fun of Sarah Palin. But in a world where it's still acceptable to put down intelligence as arrogance and embrace ignorance as a virtue, she's going to find an audience." (#18)
- "I'd have a lot more sympathy toward [the conservative] notion that there's more than one sort of 'intelligence' if you guys didn't routinely say things that were demonstrably false. We can think of torture or attitudes toward the Muslim world or even opinions on health care or economics as different moral choices or different viewpoints. But let the subject turn to climate change or evolution and all of the sudden brilliant flashes of absolute stupidity emerge for all to see." (#18.4)
(This goes along with my belief that people can blithely ignore scientific data when it doesn't support their "gut feeling" on an issue.)
- "What is it about [Palin] that turns the media's faces purple with rage? She's a populist, has a nasally Fargo sounding voice and isn't terribly informed. But does this explain the vitriol? No. I think there's more. As an independent (and one who would not vote for Palin), I've about come to the conclusion that Palin is just too common for media elites... She's just too white, too folksy and too churchy to ever fit in the club." (#31)