'Bad things happen when Fox News and right-wing media organizations start telling fairy tales.'

Robert L. Seward.Most children believe in Santa Claus. They put milk and cookies out for Santa on Christmas Eve, and the milk and cookies are gone in the morning.

The kids believe Santa ate the cookies and drank the milk. Mom and Dad told them so. Mom and Dad have control of their child's mind. That mind control is OK because Mom and Dad have a conscience and are responsible. They will not use their authority to harm their children. It is an innocent prank — no one gets hurt.

In a few years, their kids learn the facts — that reindeer don't fly and Santa Claus can't deliver presents to millions of children in one night. They learn to distinguish between facts and fairy tales.

Bad things happen when Fox News and right-wing media organizations start telling fairy tales to millions of Americans. Unlike Mom and Dad, Fox News and right-wing media have no conscience and show no responsibility to the public airwaves. They masquerade as news organizations, but 90 percent of the day and night, they peddle fairy tales, fantasies and conspiracy theories (the other 10 percent is marketed as straight news but is corrupt, because Fox will totally hide or ignore major news stories if they are unfavorable).

Millions are seduced by the fairy tales. Viewers stop critical thinking and fact-checking. They stop using reliable news sources. Minds sleep. As the years go by, viewers become astonishingly ignorant. They are now fertile ground for the big con and mind control. With that kind of influence, Fox and right-wing media can swing elections, almost kill the Affordable Care Act, promote racism and white supremacy, trash our CIA and FBI, deny climate change, and demonize political opponents. The ignorance created by right-wing media is a grave threat to our democracy.

Let's look at some of the fairy tales that are refuted by facts and believed by supporters of President Donald Trump. Mexicans are criminals and rapists. Muslims are terrorists. Hillary Clinton and the Democrats will take your guns. The federal government is run by incompetent bureaucrats. Politicians are all crooks. Obamacare is a death panel. Black Lives Matter is a hoax. Racism is over. Mexico will pay for the wall. Global warming is a hoax. Science is liberal intellectual nonsense. The Russian intervention is a hoax. Voter fraud is everywhere — and most alarming, fact-based news organizations like The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, PBS, print media and journalism are fake news. It is no surprise that if you believe these fairy tales, you will support Trump and elect him president.

The cost of ignorance is tyranny, or as Thomas Jefferson said to Charles Yancey in 1816, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was, and never will be."

Robert L. Seward, M.D., lives in Forest Grove.

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