At first it was hilarious, but the more I thought about it the angrier I became. Lots of things seem to work that way these days.
SCOTTeVEST is a company that makes vests, but not just any sort of vests. Their vests have…wait for it…pockets! Where do you find customers ready for such a mind-shattering concept? On Fox News, of course.
In a story gaining surprisingly wide coverage on rightwing media, the company’s CEO, Scott Jordan, made some candid comments on Facebook about the channel’s audience. Here’s what he said:
“I love meeting new people that recognize me and my company from all of our television commercials. I am on the ski lift and the following exchange just happened and happens often.
“I ask “what network they saw me?”
“Invariably people say FOXNews.
“I laugh to myself, and tell them that we primarily advertise on Fox because we find their viewership to be extremely gullible and much easier to sell than other networks.
“The look on their face at that time is priceless. I am not kidding you.
“I get to tell them they are f&^king idiots while getting rich off them.”
As revelations go, it’s about as remarkable as a vest with pockets. Everybody in media knows Fox’s value-pitch. Reeling in viewers with scary stories about colored folk delivered by Hooters waitresses in short skirts, Fox News has built a machine for reaching a gullible, aging white audience with some loose cash. The “Tech” section on the Fox News website features an article asking whether texts can really be deleted. Are you looking to sell gold coins, phones with large buttons, or vests that feature pockets? Fox has lined up your marks.
On the surface it’s an amusing story about your political opponents, but the more it rolls around your head the darker it gets. Jordan’s admission launched a live, uncontrolled, human-subjects trial of the Dunning-Kruger effect. We’re getting a look at the cynical opportunism that has eaten the Republican Party. We’re seeing how relatively easy it is for a well-born, but otherwise mediocre white guy to get rich in this country. We’re glimpsing a preview of how Trump voters will respond when the indictments start landing. At an even more disturbing level, this incident demonstrates the elusiveness of reality itself in a data-centric world – a challenge bedeviling all of us regardless of how bright or insightful we think we may be.
There’s more here than can be covered in a single blog post. It’s tough to even know where to start.
In summary, a guy who’s kind of a dick became a millionaire selling useless crap on Fox News. He admits to the scam in a moment of ill-tempered, social media candor. Strangely, his comments are amplified all over rightwing media. Wouldn’t The Blaze, PJ Media, Brietbart and other tentacles of the rightwing vampire squid be reluctant to reveal the formula? Not at all. People who make a living on this grift understand their marks. Fox viewers don’t see this as a revelation, but an attack on their tribe. Jordan’s rash admission only intensifies their loyalty to the bloodsucking leeches who deliver their preferred reality.
Never get involved in a land war in Asia. Also, never argue with a cultist. No data will shake someone’s attachment to a tribal reality. Cognitive dissonance only inspires hostility. A quick Facebook search produced the following sample of responses from Fox viewers to Jordan’s admission:
If this guy Scott Jordan is so proud that he insults his customers, I say those customers boicot his company. I never bought a Scott e Vest, and never will, knowing this.
Another rich execrable idiot. He can kiss good bye my buying any of his merchandize! Welcome to capitalism, Scott Jordan!
Here is probably the reason that Jordan stepped down last year from his business he founded. Like too many LIBERALS he is Mentally ILL.
I’ve been looking forward to getting ScotteVest products for me and my family. What a great product, solves lots of problems we face with regular clothing and how to deal with all the electronic stuff.. Well thats not going to happen because I’m a FOX VIEWER. So not I don’t shop at Bed Bath & Beyond and now I’m adding ScottEVest to my boycott list. Maybe your company will survive with all the corrupt FBI & DOJ as customers….
This one is my favorite:
Apparently Scott Jordan is the idiot……sad because we have some of the Scottevest products and really liked them….
Yes. The guy counting his money and laughing at you on the ski slope is “the idiot.”
Last year I wrote an angry screed about the “conservative” hucksters who make a living exploiting my father. This incident pulls back the veil a bit farther, exposing the mindset that keeps the conservative vampire squid in business. Figures who’ve sold their souls to profit from this grift deserve derision, but the story has much darker implications extending beyond the Republican bubble.
We live in an age of magical realism, an era in which reality has grown impossibly strange and almost hopelessly elusive. There’s a temptation to laugh at the response of our least prepared and perceptive brethren, but no one rests above this tide. None of us individually possesses the biological firepower it would take to keep pace with our technology. In an age of AI and virtual reality, our software has already outclassed our wetware.
More and more, we have come to lean on tribal reality to supplement our declining capacity to establish reality on our own. A tribal reality benefits from lots of people gathering and processing information, but it is vulnerable to defensiveness and exploitation. A shrinking world and the exponential explosion of computing power has sparked a biological arms race with no certain outcome, unleashing a Dunning-Kruger nightmare. Our only antidote is a dose of humility and a willingness to embrace a degree of ambiguity that can challenge our sanity. Life in a world of persistent uncertainty may be too much for many of us to bear, but we have no choice.