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After Buffalo, Media and Tech Can’t Look Away Any Longer

This tragedy should be a catalyst to a fundamental reckoning.
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It’s vicious, it summarizes the last four years really well, and it goes a little something like this …

  1. Fox News recites right-wing conspiracy theories, often pulled off the internet.
  2. Trump repeats Fox News talking points to the press.
  3. Fox News invites Trump on air to repeat talking points.
  4. Right-wing groups post Trump-Fox clips on Facebook and Twitter.
  5. Facebook and Twitter’s mysterious algorithms serve this content to people who are most susceptible to racism and misinformation.
  6. Right-wing conspiracy theories spread like wildfire on the internet.

Lather, rinse, repeat. Fox, Trump, Fox, social media — it’s viral conspiracy-theory gold.

Toxic lies

Just last week, Trump called into Fox News with a dangerous lie that trivialized the very real threats the pandemic poses to children. This time, after millions of people had already seen the video, Facebook and Twitter took steps to block the Trump-Fox clip. But nothing could stop it from spreading across the internet and our media system.

This Wednesday, Fox & Friends welcomed owners of a New Jersey gym, who promoted their legal battles with the state government over COVID-19 restrictions and peddled a dangerous conspiracy theory claiming that the local government’s COVID-19 response is an attempt to “mandate a peak and spike in COVID cases.”

And on Wednesday evening, Tucker Carlson used his Fox News show Tucker Carlson Tonight to spout racist lies about Kamala Harris — alleging that she wants “only people of a certain color [to] get the [COVID-19] vaccine.”

Some may try to dismiss Fox News as a fringe network, but let’s be clear: Fox’s ratings are consistently high and its audience is only growing.

The network’s audience is primarily made up of the 80+ demographic, a group at extremely high risk from COVID-19, which the network has downplayed all year. But last week, Fox announced that since the pandemic hit, it’s seen a surge in younger viewers — helping it lure new advertisers to back its toxic brand of racism and disinformation.

MyPillow, a top advertiser on Tucker Carlson Tonight, has made it clear that the notoriously racist Fox News host can say whatever he wants. But what about Google, Dell, TalkSpace and Samsung?

Fox’s toxicity could cost lives — any company whose advertising dollars are propping up the network should know that they are enabling the spread of hatred and disinformation. Urge advertisers to reject hate and boycott Fox.

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