That’s not true of efforts that might be labeled as “politically correct,” of course; striving to fairly represent a broad range of viewpoints doesn’t by itself engender a default negative response. Using the term “politically correct” to describe such efforts, though, is done specifically to disparage them. Asking people if they support increased political correctness is like asking people if they support increased whining. Most people will not.
Also unsurprisingly, Republicans were far more likely to oppose increased “political correctness” than were Democrats. Speaking anecdotally, Republicans are more likely to oppose the concept of political correctness in part because of how the term has been deployed to mute the efforts at inclusion that the term is used broadly to describe. When President Trump was asked in the first Republican primary debate in 2015 why he’d disparaged a number of women online, he replied that he thought the United States was too politically correct. The crowd applauded loudly — and many of them then voted for him.
The point is this: “Political correctness” is a straw man. No one supports “political correctness” as such; the term itself is a pejorative about policing speech. It’s used precisely to cast any underlying ideas as ridiculous.
As such, it’s not a surprise that the term is used a lot more on the Republican-friendly Fox News than on CNN or MSNBC. Analysis of closed-captioning data compiled by the Internet Archive shows that Fox News used the expression almost twice as much as CNN and more than twice as much as MSNBC since 2017.
This old poll came to mind with the casual deployment by Fox News on Tuesday of a similar term.
Trump attended the college football championship Monday night and briefly chatted with actor Vince Vaughn. A clip of the conversation was shared on social media, with occasional responses like this one resulting.
That tweet uses the term “canceled,” the verb form of the slang term “cancel culture” — a descriptor used for occasions in which toxic behavior leads to the ostracizing of a public figure. The idea, then, is that Vaughn crossed one of the hyperventilating left’s lines and, therefore, will be set adrift on a cultural ice floe, never to be heard from again.
So you get Fox News segments like this one.
You’ll notice that the segment above uses the tweet from Siraj Hashmi as an example of how liberals are demanding that Vaughn be silenced. What you may not have noticed, though, is that Hashmi writes for the conservative Washington Examiner, as Vox’s Aaron Rupar noted. Hashmi himself was making a point about how liberals would react to Vaughn; Fox, eager to show how liberals were overreacting, seized upon it as one of a smattering of examples of the effect they sought to highlight.
The White House weighed in, of course.
“Democrats seem to be more upset at this exchange than they are over Soleimani killing American citizens,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a separate Fox News segment. (There were a number over the course of the day.) Soleimani, of course, is Qasem Soleimani, a senior Iranian military leader killed in a drone strike this month. Gidley is playing along: Liberals are so warped that they hold Vaughn more to account than America’s enemies. He was not challenged on the inaccuracy of his statement, since it was Fox that presented liberals as being angry about Vaughn in the first place.
Over and over, we see this pattern of Fox using language it attributes to outraged liberals as fuel for its own outraged segments. Fox’s coverage has used “cancel culture” five times as often as CNN and seven times as much as MSNBC since 2017. It’s used “social justice warrior” infrequently, but far more than its competitors.
It’s used “woke” — a term used to describe a heightened awareness of cultural inequalities — more than CNN and MSNBC since 2017. In the past year, as the word has transitioned into a “politically correct”-style negative, Fox has used the term much more frequently.
This gets at the heart of much of what Fox News does with its coverage. It is explicit in positioning itself as a counterweight to a culture and political universe it sees as overly liberal. As such, it frequently appropriates slang that it can present as an artifact of those universes, something to be considered under glass as representative of what The Other Side is doing. Eventually, those terms themselves become shorthand for the ridiculousness of what the left is doing, code words understood by their audience.
Vince Vaughn talked to Trump, and people mostly shrugged. On Fox, though, it powered segment after segment, an example of that “cancel culture” you’ve heard so much about (on Fox News). Just another example of how politically correct culture is getting out of hand! Stay tuned for Tucker Carlson, who will have more on this story.