I’ve come to an epiphany— The Fox News audience is a bonsai tree, and Fox News is this bonsai tree’s master.
Fox News tenderly cultivates and nourishes its own audience for its own pleasure and profit. Fox News carefully prunes the bonsai tree (i.e. its audience) in order to extract the advertising dollars that grow from the tree.
This tree must be forced to grow in a specific way that does not occur in nature because allowing it to grow free and unfettered would soon allow it to grow into a wilderness that Fox News would no longer be able to control. Should their audience grow into a wilderness, Fox News would not be able to package it into a palatable boxed product that they can sell to advertisers.
Commercial organizations other than Fox News, on the other hand, have to deal with this wilderness because they do not control their audience nor their market. Such is the devil in the free market— it is inherently free and unfettered!
It is for this reason (and not because of cancel culture) that many commercial organizations have decided to distance themselves from right-wing voter suppression policies— because their market demands it of them. Yet Fox News remains defiantly exempt from such market pressures.
Fox News is different from other commercial organizations, however, because they do not need to participate in the free market. Instead, they may cleverly choose to create their very own special market!
They can curate a special garden of their very own and grow just a single bonsai tree in the garden and tailor that tree for a particular garden that they wish to have. Thus, the tree and the garden and the master are one and the same.
For you see, the free market is wild and wooly and untamed. A lovely bonsai tree, instead, can be tamed by carefully pruning here and there and restricting its nutrients and the size of its roots. The reason Fox News is shallow is the very same reason the basin of the bonsai tree is shallow— to constrain the wild growth capacity of the tree itself. The entirety of the world that the bonsai tree knows or could ever know is strictly by the whim of the bonsai tree’s master. And so this is also true for the Fox News audience who is unwittingly fed an intellectual diet that intentionally stunts their growth in order for Fox News to package that viewer to a sponsor who pays Fox News for that finely curated audience of wealthy people.
Fox News and its audience and its sponsors are a closed ecosystem. Fox News has found a way to wrangle order out of the chaos of the free market by curating a bonsai tree garden.
I have no objection to this from a philosophical nor free market standpoint. They have found a perfectly valid exploit in human beings and have chosen to maximize profit from that exploit.
No. Rather, my objection is that Fox News is not satisfied with this small garden that they’ve tenderly raised. Their motivations are not for aesthetics as is the case for the bonsai gardener, but instead their motivation is (predictably) to maximize corporate profits. But their means of doing so is different than typical corporations who, in order to grow, must attract a more diverse clientele to its market because the market itself is diverse, and a narrow clientele such as the one that Fox News has cultivated, would necessarily narrow their potential market reach and thus limit their potential profits.
Because of this unique position in the market, Fox News is peculiar because they stand to benefit if the rest of the market and by consequence, the rest of the world, were less free and more similar to the curated garden of the bonsai tree. Rather than growing more diverse, Fox News stands to benefit financially if the entire world were less diverse and more similar to its curated garden. It is in Fox News’ interest to squash diversity and to prune wildness and to encourage an orderly and homogenous environment that is conducive to growing a specific kind of bonsai tree that continually bears the kind of fruit that has made Fox News so financially wealthy for all these decades.
And so in order to grow its market share while at the same time retain its present safe and successful business model, Fox News would prefer that our entire world to be most similar to the special ecosystem that it has fostered for its special bonsai tree.
And those preceding facts culminates in a special danger to our world. In a deadly cocktail, (1) the nature of human beings is that they are so easily influenced and (2) also that they are so easily and eagerly cultivated into pleasantly non-dissonant ecosystems that Fox News cultivates along with (3) the nature of Fox News as a widely broadcast information network, means that we are all in danger of being farmed by Fox News and placed into a tiny constricted basin for the rest of humanity’s existence.
Is it that far of a stretch to imagine that the weakness of most human minds is no match for the information/disinformation/misinformation behemoth of a network that Fox News is already/has already become? Now that I have clearly laid out the parts of the system and how they work, what alternatives would prevent Fox News from carrying out the above plan if they so chose? We have already seen the effectiveness of Fox News in cultivating human minds for profit and the myriad human minds who allow themselves to be molded and shaped in very much the same way as bonsai trees are shaped and molded according to their master’s wishes.
What will Fox News look like in 20 years? What will their audience look like? What will the world look like? Is the pattern I’ve outlined above a credible self-sustaining loop that Fox News may carry out for 20 years? Will other news organizations also adopt their own strategies for bonsai tree cultivation with the end result being that we are all separated by our own media ecosystems so that the big media corporations can each profit peaceably from the fruit from their little garden of stunted trees?