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skynetcusco / Flickr

The New York Times notes a peculiar new obsession of the Fox News website: American wummenfolk accused of sexual abuse.

Through the first half of 2017, the site posted fewer than 20 stories on women accused of sex offenses. The new focus started on June 30, when published an article on “the apparently increasing frequency of female teachers having sex with their young male students.” Over the next six months the site posted some 98 articles on instances of sexual abuse allegedly committed by women, most of them teachers.

Tales of the unusual suit the tabloid aesthetic of much of the site’s content. What was noteworthy was the spike in coverage of the subject, which began a few weeks after Noah Kotch, a former producer at NBC’s “Today” show, became the site’s editor in chief. It also came in the aftermath of numerous sexual harassment scandals at Fox News.

Ah yes, Fox News loves their stories of women preying on innocent American lads. A visit to Fox would have you believing this was a new national epidemic (narrator: it is not).

Mr. Kotch said that the uptick in stories on the subject was not related to Fox News’s own sexual harassment issues […]

It’s good to see other media outlets give an occasional side-eye to the Fox News empire and their, ahem, curious priorities. It should be done more often. The Times suggests these particular stories, most of which are about sultry teachers leading innocent male students astray with their dangerous feminine charms (or something to that effect) are part of the “tabloid aesthetic,” while strongly noting the curious coincidence of the timing, coming on the heels of top Fox News figures being booted from the network for a pattern of sexual harassment of female network employees. But as a longtime Fox(ugh)watcher I’ll suggest there’s a dearer agenda than either promoting “tabloid” fare or defending the network via editorial bank shot.

The Fox News website, more than the network itself, has long dabbled in the fringe movement known as the alt-right, a movement premised on white nationalism, but also rampant misogyny and the specific paranoid belief that white men, in particular, are under constant attack. The Fox News website is ever-obsessed with crimes by black men against white men, or by immigrants against the native born; it is unsubtly presented as malevolent minority folks targeting good white Americans in what, from how Fox writers describe it, is an ever-expanding wave of such crimes.

It stands to reason, in a movement that considers “men” to be under attack, that stories about men being victimized by malevolent women would be big sellers among the Fox News base—and indeed, the Times reports Kotch defending the articles as being “of extremely high interest to readers.” It fits neatly into the alt-right supposition that men are being unfairly targeted as sexual harassers in the current climate, and that women are guilty of the same things in the same proportion. Like the Fox News obsession with black-on-white or immigrant-on-nonimmigrant crime, the actual numbers of these crimes may be tiny, overall, but elevating each turns a set of rare anecdotes into what appears to be, to the paranoid, an epidemic.

To put that shorter, it’s nothing but the usual Fox trolling in service to a far-right movement more identified by paranoia and trolling than anything else. If you’ve ever seen the maudlin performances put on by Tucker Carlson during his new Fox show, you understand immediately the “audience” these reports are aimed at.

Thumbs up to the New York Times for casting a public eye on the peculiarities of the Fox News business model, website edition—more of this, please. Even as the obvious white nationalist leanings of Breitbart “News” were publicly reported on, the Fox News site has been just as aggressive, if not more, in courting an implicitly racist, explicitly paranoid, far-right base. You will find just as much “alt-right” white nationalism there as at Breitbart—and with a considerably higher budget.

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