Twenty-three years ago Rupert Murdoch (an international, ultra-conservative newspaper baron) and Roger Ailes (a Republican media consultant) joined forces to launch Fox News, an avowedly right-wing cable news network. It’s mission was to advance the agenda of the far-right and to malign Democrats and other liberals. Any objective observer recognized their intentions. They were spelled out openly in the slogan, “fair and balanced,” which implied that all the other news outlets were not. It’s a tactic they borrowed from cult marketing.
Over time Fox News transformed into a mouthpiece specifically dedicated to Donald Trump. While it still promoted Republican policies, it was through a filter that first took into consideration the best interests of Trump. The evidence of this bias was everywhere. And now Jane Mayer of the New Yorker has compiled an exhaustive collection of it that seals the case. She may be two years late, but the historical value of her documentation is still worthwhile. Some of the key observations included this description of the place that Fox News came to occupy in American media:
“It has evolved into something that hasn’t existed before in the United States. Nicole Hemmer, an assistant professor of Presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center and the author of ‘Messengers of the Right,’ a history of the conservative media’s impact on American politics, says of Fox, ‘It’s the closest we’ve come to having state TV.’ […] ‘Fox is not just taking the temperature of the base—it’s raising the temperature,” she says. ‘It’s a radicalization model.'”
Indeed. Fox News set out to stir up the Trump Deplorables into a army of angry misfits who have literally threatened to start a civil war over what they regard as the mistreatment of their Dear Leader. And Trump has helped to inflame those sentiments by declaring that the media (which doesn’t include Fox News) is “the enemy of the American people.” He persists in that calculated characterization even after several domestic terrorists have targeted the media for assassination.
Mayer also noted that the intertwining of of the White House and Fox News turned it into a hybrid creature that interacted “so seamlessly that it can be hard to determine, during a particular news cycle, which one is following the other’s lead.” Actually, it isn’t that hard. Trump is too ignorant to come up with an original idea. It is clearly Fox News that is running the President’s show. Numerous examples of him live-tweeting what he sees on Fox have been documented.
This bizarre embrace is further evident in the revolving door relationship between Fox and the Trump administration, wherein his staff was littered with former Foxies, while former staffers often ended up on the network’s payroll. Perhaps the most egregious example of that was when Trump hired Bill Shine as his Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications. Shine was the former Fox News president who was fired for his role in enabling the sexual misconduct of Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly. He was also Sean Hannity’s producer before moving into the executive suites.
Mayer’s article covered a broad array of Fox News history. She wrote about Trump’s long personal relationship with Rupert Murdoch. She revealed that Fox had the Stormy Daniels story before other media, but declined to publish it because “Rupert wanted Trump to win.” She detailed how Trump sought to intervene in the AT&T/TimeWarner merger in order to punish CNN.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
The whole article is worth the read for anyone interested in how Fox News became Trump’s propaganda division. But most of it is a just a very compelling retelling of the incestuous political/media affair that raged between Trump and Fox News. It’s useful to have this much information all in one place. And hopefully it will persuade some of the laggards who have been willfully blind to this conjoining of wingnuttery that allowing a criminal government to merge with an unethically biased media enterprise is both un-American and dangerous.