When asked by Patrick Doyle of Rolling Stone about the highlight of the Kennedy Center Honors Haggard talked about meeting both former President Clinton, and President Obama. Haggard said of Obama, ďIt was also nice to meet Obama and find him very different from the media makeout. Itís really almost criminal what they do with our President. There seems to be no shame or anything. They call him all kinds of names all day long, saying heís doing certain things that heís not. Itís just a big old political game that I donít want to be part of. There are people spending their lives putting him down. Iím sure some of itís true and some of itís not. I was very surprised to find the man very humble and he had a nice handshake. His wife was very cordial to the guests and especially me. They made a special effort to make me feel welcome. It was not at all the way the media described him to be.Ē
When asked what is the biggest lie out there about Obama, Haggard answered, ďHeís not conceited. Heís very humble about being the President of the United States, especially in comparison to some presidents weíve had who come across like they donít need anybodyís help. I think he knows heís in over his head. Anybody with any sense who takes that job and thinks they can handle it must be an idiot.Ē
Now where could Merle Haggard have possibly ever gotten the idea that Obama is conceited? The myth of Obamaís arrogance is the favorite personal attack that Fox News uses against this president.
Here is Sean Hannity calling Obama arrogant:
Here is Karl Rove on Hannity also calling Obama arrogant:
Then we have Charles Krauthammer discussing Obamaís arrogance on Special Report with Bret Baier:
We can safely conclude that Merle Haggard either got the idea about Obamaís conceit from watching Fox News, or that the people who Haggard talks to everyday informed him about Obama based on what they had seen on Fox News. Many people have written about Haggard defending Obama, but to me Haggardís surprise when he met the real Obama demonstrates both the power and the spread of Fox Newsí misinformation.
Merle Haggard is a white man in his 70s with a GED. He is the base audience for Fox News. I thought his comments about what Fox News and right wing media are doing to Obama were right on the money. The misinformation and lies that they are spreading about this president on a daily basis is almost criminal. The problem is that Fox News is not only misinforming the 2 million people that tune in every day. They are also misinforming all of the people that the Fox News audience talks to. A mass media misinformation campaign becomes a grass roots campaign as viewers individually spread the inaccurate information and character attacks on Obama via word of mouth.
The Fox News message seeps into the entire culture. This is what many on the left donít understand. When Americans who donít follow politics hear this misinformation about Obama from friends, relatives, neighbors, or co-workers, they donít know any better and they accept the information as truth from a personally trusted source. I wish more people could have the same experience that Haggard did. They need to see the disconnect for themselves between the lies on Fox News and the truth about the President of the United States.
The truly vile part of this attack on Obama is the underlying racial component. Notice that Fox News likes to call the President arrogant and conceited. These terms are euphemisms for uppity. The message from Fox News is that Obama is an arrogant and conceited black man who doesnít belong in the White House.
The story here isnít just that Haggard defended Obama, but that we got to see one manís reaction to being deceived by a right wing media/Fox News message. I have a feeling that Haggardís anger at being lied to by the right wing media would be echoed by many other Americans if they could be reached with the truth. Countering the attacks and misinformation of Fox News is the challenge that President Obama, his supporters, and every single American who care about truth must face in 2011 and beyond.