In an interview with Rolling Stone about receiving the Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement, outlaw country legend Merle Haggard reflected on meeting President Obama. He blasted “the media,” for making up and spreading lies about Obama, “It was also nice to meet Obama and find him very different from the media makeout. It’s really almost criminal what they do with our President.” It is obvious that Haggard was talking about Fox News.
When asked by Patrick Doyle of Rolling Stone about the highlight of the Kennedy Center Honors Haggard talked about meeting both former President Clinton, and President Obama. Haggard said of Obama, “It was also nice to meet Obama and find him very different from the media makeout. It’s really almost criminal what they do with our President. There seems to be no shame or anything. They call him all kinds of names all day long, saying he’s doing certain things that he’s not. It’s just a big old political game that I don’t want to be part of. There are people spending their lives putting him down. I’m sure some of it’s true and some of it’s not. I was very surprised to find the man very humble and he had a nice handshake. His wife was very cordial to the guests and especially me. They made a special effort to make me feel welcome. It was not at all the way the media described him to be.”
When asked what is the biggest lie out there about Obama, Haggard answered, “He’s not conceited. He’s very humble about being the President of the United States, especially in comparison to some presidents we’ve had who come across like they don’t need anybody’s help. I think he knows he’s in over his head. Anybody with any sense who takes that job and thinks they can handle it must be an idiot.”
Now where could Merle Haggard have possibly ever gotten the idea that Obama is conceited? The myth of Obama’s arrogance is the favorite personal attack that Fox News uses against this president.
Here is Sean Hannity calling Obama arrogant:
Here is Karl Rove on Hannity also calling Obama arrogant:
Then we have Charles Krauthammer discussing Obama’s arrogance on Special Report with Bret Baier:
We can safely conclude that Merle Haggard either got the idea about Obama’s conceit from watching Fox News, or that the people who Haggard talks to everyday informed him about Obama based on what they had seen on Fox News. Many people have written about Haggard defending Obama, but to me Haggard’s surprise when he met the real Obama demonstrates both the power and the spread of Fox News’ misinformation.
Merle Haggard is a white man in his 70s with a GED. He is the base audience for Fox News. I thought his comments about what Fox News and right wing media are doing to Obama were right on the money. The misinformation and lies that they are spreading about this president on a daily basis is almost criminal. The problem is that Fox News is not only misinforming the 2 million people that tune in every day. They are also misinforming all of the people that the Fox News audience talks to. A mass media misinformation campaign becomes a grass roots campaign as viewers individually spread the inaccurate information and character attacks on Obama via word of mouth.
Merle Haggard by his own admission was a Republican up until 2007, and in a Time interview, he described himself as a born again Christian who turned away from Bush, but is not a liberal. Haggard said, “I supported George W. I’m not exactly a liberal. But I know how that Texas thing works, who those oil folks are and what they wanted in Iraq. I’m a born-again Christian too, but the longer I live, the more afraid I get of some of these religious groups that have so much influence on the Republicans and want to tell us how to live our lives.” Haggard supported Hillary Clinton in 2008.
The Fox News message seeps into the entire culture. This is what many on the left don’t understand. When Americans who don’t follow politics hear this misinformation about Obama from friends, relatives, neighbors, or co-workers, they don’t know any better and they accept the information as truth from a personally trusted source. I wish more people could have the same experience that Haggard did. They need to see the disconnect for themselves between the lies on Fox News and the truth about the President of the United States.
The truly vile part of this attack on Obama is the underlying racial component. Notice that Fox News likes to call the President arrogant and conceited. These terms are euphemisms for uppity. The message from Fox News is that Obama is an arrogant and conceited black man who doesn’t belong in the White House.
The story here isn’t just that Haggard defended Obama, but that we got to see one man’s reaction to being deceived by a right wing media/Fox News message. I have a feeling that Haggard’s anger at being lied to by the right wing media would be echoed by many other Americans if they could be reached with the truth. Countering the attacks and misinformation of Fox News is the challenge that President Obama, his supporters, and every single American who care about truth must face in 2011 and beyond.