Some liberals see Fox News as a grotesque cesspool of anti-intellectual idiocy, a creepy, paranoid grotto of ignorance where bigots can huddle together in the dark and stoke each other’s prejudice as the rest of the country embraces the light of progress. But I’ve always found Fox vaguely charming, mostly because it is so fantastically terrible, so obviously low-rent in literally every way, that it serves as its own best parody. Sure, it is possible to be deeply offended by the execrable dreck the channel pumps into an upsettingly large chunk of the American consciousness day in and day out. But it’s much more fun to watch in amusement as Fox’s unrelenting mediocrity slowly curdles into an arresting form of black comedy.
To wit: Last Saturday, Fox invited Dr. Robi Ludwig, a “nationally known psychotherapist,” onto the improbably alliterative show Justice with Judge Jeanine to discuss the previous night’s Isla Vista massacre.
Once gifted the Fox News hot seat, Ludwig didn’t disappoint, spinning out a novel theory of the murderer’s motives:
When I was first listening to him, I was like, ‘Oh, he’s angry with women for rejecting him.’ And then I started to have a different idea: Is this somebody who is trying to fight against his homosexual impulses? Was he angry with women because they were taking away men from him?
Now, it is perfectly reasonable to react to this bizarre conjecture with outrage and disgust. Ample evidence had, by that point, already illustrated that the shootings were committed by a man who craved sex with women but couldn’t obtain it. Ludwig’s claim, then, is totally baseless, leaving us to wonder whether her comments were motivated less by professional expertise than by anti-gay animus.
But taking such questions seriously is really granting Fox—and Ludwig—far too much credit. Ludwig’s claims weren’t just inaccurate; they were absolutely ridiculous, a spectacle of inane doltishness. By dredging the depths of her paranoia for the most laughably exaggerated homophobia imaginable, Ludwig’s remarks crescendoed past the usual droning doublespeak of Fox News’ bigotry and denialism to an altogether higher register of bleak, unintentionally satirical commentary on the limitlessness of Fox’s own lunacy. There is much to be angry about in this world, starting with the misogyny that still permeates our culture and seems to have driven Elliot Rodger to kill. But let us not waste our precious moments earnestly decrying the ramblings of a fool on a third-rate cable news channel that is already imploding before our eyes.