Conspiracy Theories and Cognitive Dissonance

Ken AshfordRight Wing and Inept MediaLeave a Comment

On "Fox & Friends" this morning, Brian Kilmeade noted that good economic news matters a great deal when it comes to the president's fortunes, but only "if you believe these numbers."

A minute later, Gretchen Carlson added, "Unemployment has gone down, more jobs have been created. Now, you can argue about how those numbers, some people say they've been fabricated."

"If you believe these numbers"?  The unemployment numbers have been fabricated?

This kind of rhetoric breezes by on Fox News typically, without any fanfare.

When I hear it, I think to myself: "Wait a second.  The monthly unemployment data is compiled by career officials at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Those numbers are important, as they go into the policy-making decisions of the President, Congress, and many thousands of businesses.  Wouldn't that be a MAJOR scandal — on the scale of Watergate — if those numbers were simply fabricated?"

And indeed it would be a major scandal.  And ALL the networks (especially Fox) would be all over it 24/7.

But they're not.  And why not?  Because there is absolutely no evidence for this theory. It's just thrown out there.

In such a case, I'm inclined to ask: "Are the people at Fox News stupid, or dishonest?"

Alex-Seltz Widen has a third theory:

If it weren’t improper to psychologically analyse strangers, one might think the Fox hosts are displaying a textbook example of cognitive dissonance here, a psychological phenomena in which people who hold a strong belief about something invent (sometimes far fetched) explanations for new evidence that conflicts with their existing views. Obama is bad for the economy, the jobs numbers show the economy is doing better, so there must be something wrong with the jobs numbers. Needless to say, this is hardly the behavior one expects from fair and balanced journalists Fox hosts claim to be.

That might account for some, I suppose.  But — at least where Gretchen Carlson is concerned — I'll go with "stupid".  In any event, it's not journalism.