New revelations tying Donald Trump to Russia continue to appear every day. Simultaneously, Trump’s defenders launch new efforts to divert attention to media decoys. Among the latest are allegations that President Obama’s National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, improperly “unmasked” Americans recorded in conversations with possible foreign agents. Never mind that she never leaked anything or that her actions were all legal and proper. The story was a convenient distraction for the Trump administration as it’s mired in ever-growing scandal.
Joining the spin party, Fox News featured a story about a former Obama defense official that they tried to malign. Evelyn Farkas left her job at the Pentagon in 2015. But more recently she sought warn her former colleagues about the risks of the incoming administration of Donald Trump. Fox News tried to spin Farkas’ public comments as something nefarious with the headline “OBAMA CHEERLEAKER? Ex-WH official’s call for Trump dirt part of pattern.”
“Cheerleaker?” Aint that cute. Of course it has no meaning or honest depiction of reality. It’s a purposefully negative rhetorical invention meant to smear Farkas. Which is pretty much what the rest of the story does as well. Fox’s story began by saying that:
“[F]ormer defense official Evelyn Farkas had undertaken a media campaign to pressure her old colleagues in the Obama administration — even Barack Obama himself — to disclose what they knew.”
Hot button terms like “pressure” deliberately misrepresent what actually happened. Farkas merely sought to offer her opinion on a matter of some importance. And her advice was entirely reasonable and warranted. That didn’t stop Fox News from putting it into the most negative light. However the quotes in Fox’s own story portray Farkas as a patriot coming forward on behalf of her country. For instance:
“I was urging my former colleagues, and frankly speaking, the people on the Hill … ‘get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can before President Obama leaves the administration,’ because I had a fear that, somehow, that information would disappear with the senior people who left,” she said. “That’s why you have the leaking, because people were worried,” she added.
“The information needs to be made public,” she wrote. “If the answers yield further evidence that the president-elect is indebted to the Russian government or individuals with Kremlin ties, the intelligence community and policy officials should also begin disclosing what they know about whether Trump’s associates have been in contact with Russian officials, and what they’ve been discussing.”
“We need President Obama to share with the public the information the FBI has to date on this issue, and we need President-elect Trump to explain the full extent of his ties with the Kremlin and influential Russians,” she wrote.
These are the comments that Fox News and the right-wing echo chamber are getting all hot and bothered about. But any sane observer would recognize them as calls for transparency and respecting American citizens enough to keep them informed. Why on Earth wouldn’t you want to protect potentially incriminating information from being destroyed? And why wouldn’t you want to know about any President’s connections to operatives of a hostile foreign country?
The only reason anyone would be worried about what Farkas said is if they were trying to hide wrongdoing. Fox News and Donald Trump have vested interests in shielding themselves from unsavory or unlawful activity. And they must be deeply concerned about what would come out if intelligence officials followed Farkas’ advice. Otherwise, they would welcome any disclosures as opportunities to clear their names.
Consequently, the word has gone out to the conservative media to hype stories like Farkas’ and Rice’s. And to do so deceptively in order to poison the public’s understanding and foment confusion. Then, while responsible journalists struggle to restore some sense of sanity, the Russian atrocities get swept aside. It’s tactic that we’ve seen used for months by the Trump camp.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
Hopefully the press will stop being unwitting partners in this obfuscation and keep their eyes on the prize. There is nothing more important in American politics today than determining whether or not our president is a puppet of Vladimir Putin. Stay vigilant America, and don’t succumb to the practitioners of misdirection.