On her MSNBC program, Rachel Maddow explored how Fox News is using claims that Obama is the anti-Christ to justify their stance against the protesters in Wisconsin. She said, “It is important to know what Fox is telling the viewers about what’s going on with the protests in Wisconsin. What they are telling their viewers involves the anti-Christ.”
Here is the video from MSNBC:
Rachel Maddow began, “In 2009, one of the deeper cesspools of conspiracy theory on the internet published this column. What Obama and The Anti-Christ Have In Common. It was not satire. It was written by Joel Richardson. It claimed that Barack Obama was not necessarily the anti-Christ, but hey, just saying, the anti-Christ is a Satanically empowered man who will merge as a powerful world leader. He will first emerge as a man of peace with a populous message and large and popular following before he is revealed as the anti-Christ. Ahh, one whose name may rhyme with Shmarak Shmobama.”
Maddow continued, “The author of that is now being booked by Fox News as an expert to explain to viewers what has happened in Wisconsin and how it connects to Egypt, because the Muslim Brotherhood is organizing the Madison protest to turn Wisconsin into part of a caliphate so labor unions will destroy Israel, so you should store food and buy gold or something.”
“Honestly, after a full week of broadcasts on an hour hosted by Glenn Beck, after full week of coverage on the Egypt protests where he explained to fox news that protests in Egypt meant China was going to take over New Zealand and we should all start storing food because of a conspiracy to turn America into an Islamic state, after Fox News explained to its viewers for a solid week that’s how they should understand what’s happening in Egypt, now, especially if you don’t watch Fox News, so you are inoculated to what you will hear the next time a Fox news viewer tells you what’s going on in Wisconsin, it is important to know what Fox is telling the viewers about what’s going on with the protests in Wisconsin. What they are telling their viewers involves the anti-Christ.”
After playing clips of Beck and Richardson, Maddow said, “That, I have to in terms of pure — I mean, wait until you get to the mark of the beast next. I mean, anyway, anti-Christ. They called in an anti-Christ expert to explain protests in Wisconsin over union rights. Just to be clear, what are this young man’s qualifications, the anti-Christ expert to be Fox News’ consultive expert on this subject? He will release his understanding about the end times. He is a prophet, a self-proclaimed end times prophet who Fox News is calling onto explain the Wisconsin protests to America’s conservatives. I say this not just to point and shriek, but because what happens on Fox influences how America’s conservatives think. Even when it is so unbelievably out there you can’t believe that anybody would believe it. Remember the whole what Obama and the anti-Christ have in common guy? Crazy, yes, that’s crazy.”
Maddow continued, “But you can’t understand right wing politics in America without understanding that the Obama and the anti-Christ guy is being booked this week as an expert on Fox News. And without understanding even when the craziest reaches of right wing media talk about this stuff, conservatives listen to it.”
She referenced a 2009 poll that showed how deeply the Obama is the anti-Christ propaganda reaches, “In 2009 a polling firm asks self-identified conservatives in New Jersey do you think Barack Obama is the anti-Christ. 35% of conservatives in New Jersey said either yes or they were not sure, and they were willing to consider the possibility. 35%. And that was before Fox News opened their eyes as to how the anti-Christ was the key link between Hosni Mubarak and collective bargaining rights for dentists in Wisconsin.”
She concluded, “I am not just pointing this out because it is amazing, that what you used to be only able to hear on predawn radio shows about UFO visitations, you can get at 5 p.m. on what is effectively Republican state run television. I am pointing it out because someone will come to you and tell you that the anti-Christ is why Hosni Mubarak was a good guy and the anti-Christ is why firefighters in your town should not have Blue Cross/Blue Shield. It is going to happen and you should know why when it does.”
Rachel Maddow focused her discussion on how the stories pushed by Fox News are believed and spread through our society, no matter how outlandish they may seem, but there is another psychological dimension to what Fox News is doing. By equating Obama with the anti-Christ, the network is subconsciously linking fundamentalist Christian religion and conservative political ideology. Fox News is setting up religious viewers to view the Wisconsin protests through the prism of their faith.
They shifted the psychological frame of the story from one about employee rights and the middle class, which is something that some of their viewers might be able to identify with, to a frame where there is nothing less than the viewers’ souls at stake.
Fox News masterfully knows how to provoke these kinds of emotional frames and responses from their viewers. The conscious story is about the protests in Wisconsin, but the unconscious message is the literal demonizing of Barack Obama.
It is the religious message that Fox News most wants to stick in their viewers minds. This same message will be called on again to activate passions and rouse these people into action during the 2012 presidential election. At first view, you may believe that Glenn Beck was simply trying to push his Wisconsin/Obama/Egypt conspiracy theory, but he was also using religious imagery to make an emotional political appeal to his viewers through the idea that Obama is the anti-Christ.
Religion provokes a key emotional psychological network in fundamentalist Christian conservatives. Fox News is well aware of this. What sounds crazy to us, when framed in these terms serves as a coded call to action for a segment of the Fox News viewing audience.
Emotion is what makes these people susceptible to conspiracy theories and beliefs that Obama is the anti-Christ. Emotion also gets people to the polls and can win elections, and for Fox News, 2012 is what this is really all about.