Hell is a room with Fox News playing on the television and being unable to switch the station. Saturday I found myself in such a situation. First I found myself irritable, then angry, then confrontational. If it affected my mood so much in a short dosage what could it do to people who watched this station every day? Would they have a constant chip on their shoulder ready for a confrontation on a moment’s notice?
I imagine George Zimmerman watched a lot of Fox News. He was the subject of the network that day. Zimmerman was on trial for fatally shooting an unarmed 17 year old. The talking heads on the station weren’t discussing whether or not Zimmerman killed the boy, Zimmerman himself admitted that. Nor were they discussing his defense which claimed you can pick a fight and if you find yourself losing you were legally justified to shoot and kill your opponent.
Rather Fox News was discussing hypothetical riots that Black people would partake in if the jury declared Zimmerman not guilty of any crimes. It was the kind of race baiting nonsense that makes viewers paranoid. The kind of fear mongering that makes people scared and feel the need to arm themselves for protection. In other words it was the type of ignorance that could persuade someone to form a militia or neighborhood watch to keep away people who were different from them.
I am not sure if Fox News exists because there is a population that feels the need to justify hate or if the hate exists because Fox News keeps the flame lit, but there is a connection. Whether it is fictional weapons of mass destruction or imagined terrorist strikes every time I have had the misfortune to watch this station it has erred on the wrong side of history. As I watched one commentator after another talk about potential urban unrest and another whine about where is the outrage when Black people shoot Black people, I could not help but to think in another century and in another country these “experts” would be worried about treason from Jews and Gypsies.
I had to get outside away from the television. A siren wailed in the distance. I overheard a woman confess to her friend, “Every time I hear a siren I wonder if they announced the verdict and they started rioting.”
Later that night they did announce the verdict. George Zimmerman was found not guilty. There were no riots. A 17 year old boy was still dead. And the news cycle continued.