The Fox Cycle is the process by which Fox News pushes right-wing fringe stories into the mainstream news. Fox distorts facts, spreads myths as truths and devotes heavy, one-sided coverage to make viewers believe in baseless, manufactured stories -- and, worse, to convince mainstream media outlets to cover these lies.
The Fox Cycle occurs in six steps:
- Right-wing bloggers, talk radio hosts, and other conservative media outlets start promoting a fringe or false story.
- Fox News picks up the story and gives it heavy, one-sided coverage.
- Fox News and conservative media attack the “liberal media” for ignoring it.
- Mainstream media outlets eventually cover the story, echoing the right-wing distortions.
- Fox News receives credit for promoting the story.
- The story is later proved to be false or wildly misleading, long after damage is done.
The Fox Cycle is the reason why some people believe that Planned Parenthood is in the business of selling fetal body parts, why some people still think the 2012 presidential election was rigged against Mitt Romney, why some people are convinced that voter ID laws prevent fraud and why climate denial is rampant. Even after the truth has emerged, proving the story false, there are still many people left with the impression that there’s some truth or credibility to the claims.
While Fox News is mainly to blame for picking up these fringey stories in the first place, mainstream news outlets must be careful not to echo their right-wing manufactured distortions as truths. Fact checking and debunking misinformation is especially important this campaign season.