Reprinted with permission from DailyKosSay what you want about Fox News—and please do say what you want about Fox News!—but you have to admit they're informative. Just this week, I learned something thanks to the crack Fox News team working tirelessly to create fresh new content for American eyeballs. I learned that Fairfax County, Virginia, is populated exclusively by top members of arch-right Republican think tanks and political campaigns. Can you imagine that? An entire Virginia county in which everyone you meet works for a Republican candidate or is a "senior fellow" at something?
Go to Arby's, and the guy making your sandwich is actually a senior fellow at the Conservative Sandwich Institute. Go to pump some gas, and the woman behind the counter of the sketchy convenience store you try to never go into leads a second life as a National Rifle Association board member. Get mugged, and you'll soon learn the person stealing your money is part of a nationwide "libertarian legal organization."
Wait, that last one happens all the time. But the other two are still weird, right?
These are the conclusions that can be drawn from a Fox News report—one that actually aired on actual television—attempting to drum up drama over the supposed cruelty of local school boards that have not sufficiently bowed to far-right paranoia about whatever they think "critical race theory" is, or the trauma of asking children to wear masks, or whatever else stone-cold ignorant pro-Trump fascist boot-polishers are going on about in their twitching Facebook posts.
Fox's "straight news" story featured a set of "Fairfax County parents" wanting to "push back against" the county's school board. They were all very upset over who-gives-a-damn. But as Media Matters quickly determined, all three were actually Republican freaking operatives who were not disclosed as such. The whole thing was rigged!
Parent One: a "notorious" ex-Trump administration Department of Education official currently holding down a position as "senior fellow" at a right-wing think tank.
Parent Two: the freaking chair of "Educators for Youngkin," a group boosting the crackpot Republican gubernatorial nominee by helping to drive the very far-right paranoias Fox is reporting on.
Parent Three: founded a parent's group currently suing the county school board over admission standards—a longtime race-baiting conservative cause.
What are the odds? Imagine picking out three "concerned" parents, and whoops, every one of the three is a Republican activist working to orchestrate the attacks on school boards that Republican candidates are trying to turn into the next big Fake Social Crisis. What are the odds?
Yeah. The whole thing was fake. James O'Keefe-level fake.
The odds are not zero that this collection of "concerned" professional conservative cranks provided the footage themselves, shipping it to Fox prepackaged for Fox viewer consumption. Those things do, after all, happen.
Conservatives have been drumming up new paranoias about what's going on in their local schools ever since the first moments of desegregation. They are absolutely convinced that their children are secretly learning how not to be racist, even when their asshole racist parents don't want them to learn that.
They are convinced that schools are asking children to wear masks during a deadly ongoing freaking lung-destroying organ-tearing pandemic because it is a secret plot to Who The F--k Knows. The first generations to be freed from the horrors of polio are in absolute panic over the thought of vaccinating children, something only the fringes of the pseudoscience fringe considered controversial until Donald Trump sniffed that viruses were just made-up attempts to tarnish his glorious reign of grift and incompetence.
And here comes Fox News, the "serious" news side, like clockwork, to package up the fringe of the fringe and turn it into nationwide party talking points.
Why does this only happen on the conservative side? The New York Times is notorious for presenting Republican operatives as supposed jus' folks. The Washington Post and every other outlet you can name has had a turn at it. But the reporters regularly land on local Republican operatives to present as "concerned parents" or "concerned business owners" or "concerned woman who believes face masks trap and amplify the powers of evil spirits, evil spirits named Timmy and Bob and Chadwick and Timmy Jr., and who advocates for squirting pool-cleaning chemicals up your nose because Bob absolutely hates that and will convince his evil spirit roommates to go hide out in your neighbor's place instead." I can't recall the last time Fox News or the Times or anyone else "accidentally" profiled a parent who "accidentally" turned out to be a Democratic candidate's campaign manager or similar.
Pretty weird, that.
Well, we learned one thing: We learned that Fairfax County, Virginia, is populated exclusively by Republican operatives who don't like their local school board decisions. It's a bit of an odd situation in that it's not clear how the school board became populated with residents who are not uniformly Republican operatives pushing whatever specific talking point Republican election strategists are rushing to Fox News to help convey. Still, such explanations are best left to experts, and there's not a single damn person associated with this story who could be considered one.
Still, it seems like a follow-up story is in order. Are all residents of Fairfax County Republican operatives and surrogates, or just all the parents? Wait—are we even sure all three of these people have kids? At these schools, as opposed to private ones?
Are their kids employed by far-right think tanks too, or is getting your first conservative think-tank gig considered the Fairfax County rite of passage to adulthood?
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