Even when you try to build an airtight echo chamber, sometimes outside and unwanted information filters in and is impossible to ignore. For Fox News, the recent unpleasantness has taken the form of falling unemployment numbers as well as President Obama's rising approval rating.
The news is difficult for Fox to digest because two of the core claims it has been making about Obama is that he's destroying the U.S. economy (and capitalism as we know it), and that he's a political failure. But now both of those storylines are unraveling based on empirical evidence about the employment rate and the president's standing in the polls.
So if you're Fox's Gretchen Carlson, what do you do this week? You suggest that the improving unemployment numbers, as tabulated by the Labor Department, may have been "fabricated":
And if you're Fox's Sarah Palin on the same day? You suggest Obama's improved approval rating is based on "misinformation given to the American people."
In other words, Fox News is somewhere between damage control and denial, and this approach has the makings of a year-long conspiracy theory Fox will have to keep spinning throughout the presidential campaign. (i.e. People only like Obama because they are misinformed about him and because of fabricated findings.)
The plight highlights what has always been one of Fox's most pressing programming dilemmas: How is the anti-Obama channel going to explain good news for Obama? And how is Fox going to explain to fans if and when Oama is re-elected? For loyalists who tune in everyday for their daily dose of Obama Derangement Syndrome, Fox has confirmed and re-confirmed many times over that the president is a monster of historical proportions and is doing untold damage to the country as he shreds democracy and liberty.
If that's true, what would account for a possible Obama victory in November? Or in the short term, what would account for the president's growing popularity and the improving economy? For now, Palin clings to the "misinformation" claim, while Carlson peddles the line about unemployment numbers possibly being "fabricated."
That's what losing the argument looks like.