As Hannah Arendt observed, “Lies are often much more plausible, more appealing to reason, than reality, since the liar has the great advantage of knowing beforehand what the audience wishes or expects to hear."
Fox News displays its open contempt for facts because it is a right-wing authoritarian propaganda machine, and I mean that literally. Fox News does not practice journalism. It SUBVERTS journalism. It is the Fourth Estate's Fifth Column. You can always find Fox News by backtracking the trail of slain messengers who tried to tell somebody the truth. And yes, the Big Lie works.
1) Right-wing bloggers, talk radio hosts, and other conservative media outlets start promoting a fringe or false story.
2) Fox News picks up the story and gives it heavy, one-sided coverage.
3) Fox News and conservative media attack the "liberal media" for ignoring it.
4) Mainstream media outlets eventually cover the story, echoing the right-wing distortions.
5) Fox News receives credit for promoting the story.
6) The story is later proved to be false or wildly misleading, long after damage is done.
The Fox Cycle is the reason why some people believe that Planned Parenthood is in the business of selling fetal body parts, why some people still think the 2012 presidential election was rigged against Mitt Romney, why some people are convinced that voter ID laws prevent fraud and why climate denial is rampant. Even after the truth has emerged, proving the story false, there are still many people left with the impression that there’s some truth or credibility to the claims.
While Fox News is mainly to blame for picking up these fringey stories in the first place, mainstream news outlets must be careful not to echo their right-wing manufactured distortions as truths. Fact checking and debunking misinformation is especially important this campaign season.