Fox News contributor: Debate segments are scripted ‘performance art’

With the death of Roger Ailes, millions in sexual harassment payouts, and a sea change in leadership, longtime Fox News contributors who aren’t sad to see the old guard leave are coming out of the woodwork to confirm some of the worst that’s ever been said or suspected about the network.

Tobin Smith, a 14-year paid contributor on the network who refers to himself as a designated Fox “hitman,” is the latest to spill the beans on the channel’s cynical but effective formula for success: Manufacture programming that plays off the worst and most base-level convictions in the minds of red-state senior citizens until they’re literally addicted to the dopamine rush they get watching East coast libtards get smacked down.

In a Medium post titled “FEAR & UNbalanced: Confessions of a 14-Year Fox News Hitman,” Smith discusses the inside info he got from Ailes himself on the network’s approach.

What he told me . . . of course “off-the-record” . . . should not be shocking. But now that he is gone, it’s time to be real and tell the truth about Fox News . . about everything I lived and experienced in my 14 years as a paid contributor and part-time anchor on Fox Business Network.

According to Roger:

“Toby . . . I created a TV network for people 55 to dead,” Ailes said.

“What does our viewer look like?

“They look like me…white guys in mostly Red State counties who sit on their couch with the remote in their hand all day and night.”

“What do they want to see?”

“They want to see YOU tear those smug condescending know-it-all East Coast liberals to pieces . . limb by limb . . . until they jump up out of their La-Z-Boy and scream ‘Way to go Toby…you KILLED that libtard!'”

Smith reveals that, while paid as a contributor to appear in debate segments of various Fox panel shows, he would actually be given a script of the exchange he was to have 24 to 48 hours before the appearance:

The Fox News opinion panel scam works like this. More often than not, in my panel segments I was the protagonist or “designated hit man” aka the one called on by the host (as instructed by the producers in my ear or the ear of the host) to “kill ‘em.” You’d know I was the designated hit man when the panel show hosts tossed the final death blow 15–20 seconds to me when they say “Toby you have the final word.”

But before I delivered the final rhetorical death blow … the producer of the segment had given me my script 24 hours BEFORE the show started. I knew 24–48 hours in ADVANCE of how the designated liberal was going to argue his/her point…and more important how I was going to win.

All I had to do was perform my lines with conviction and leave the host enough time to “tease” the next totally choreographed and contrived segment.

Smith directly compares the segments to performance art and professional wrestling, complete with a “face” protagonist (the conservative commentator) and a “heel” antagonist (the libtard). Any contributor who didn’t play by these rules was not invited back on the network, with Bill O’Reilly being one of the most notorious for orchestrating what a guest was and was not allowed to say in opposition to the host.

Exchanges were coordinated down to the chemical level, with liberal guests restricted to only reciting the sort of “hated liberal/progressive ideology” that would enrage the viewer until they felt like “throwing a brick through [the] TV screen,” priming their “dopamine delivery system” to deliver a rush of ecstasy when the conservative commentator won the debate:

The goal at Fox News is explicit: Produce outrage inducing partisan performance art in sufficient emotional intensity to produce enough pleasure/dopamine to get their dopamine addicted viewer the high the need until the NEXT Fox News opinion program…

In short: there is NO better feeling in life than when a person’s existing beliefs are attacked and then a smart sounding expert PROVES you right all along. Fox News turns this process of ideological attack and ultimate victory of the righteous into partisan performance art of steroids.

The most devious part of all of this, however, might be the effect that this had on the viewers and their families over the long-term — it has essentially robbed many people of their parents and grandparents:

[T]his “news” farce is how families and children are losing their fathers (and some mother’s too) into the abyss of Fox News performance art. Hundreds of thousands of >70 aged men, addicted to rush they feel as they watch the staged gladiatorial fight of good and evil for hours a day, have simply lost touch with non-Fox reality…

To some people the idea of retirees yelling at the television all day may seem funny, but this isn’t a joke. We’re losing the nation’s grandparents, and it’s an American tragedy.

Smith’s entire post is worth reading in full.

[photo: AP]