After four years of Donald Trump, a childish and ignorant “president” who repeatedly maligned the press in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the people,” it’s refreshing to see the White House actually demonstrate respect for the Fourth Estate as a critical partner in our democracy.
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Trump’s White House press office was a hostile work environment for journalists who strived to bring truthful information to the public. His press secretaries were more likely to bark ferociously at reporters than to provide honest answers to legitimate questions. And for much of his administration they didn’t hold any press briefings at all.
Joe Biden’s press office, on the other, is returning the media relations functions of the White House to its traditional role as a venue for communicating with the public. And that means taking questions from all interested parties and providing answers that advance the people’s right to know what their government is up to. But that doesn’t mean that they will be doormats or allow themselves to be exploited by alleged “news” operations that are nothing more than attack dogs for the radical right. As reported by Politico:
“White House officials promise a sea change from how the Trump White House interacted with the press. Biden’s team plans to lay out clear criteria for qualifying for a so-called ‘hard pass’ to access the grounds in consultation with the WHCA, officials told POLITICO. If current passholders in the media continue to meet the criteria determined together with the correspondents’ association, they will continue to have hard passes. […] But Biden’s aides also promised not to allow outlets to use the briefings to spread baseless conspiracies.”
“‘We expect reporters covering the White House to operate in good faith and tell their audience the truth, and this White House will do the same. We are moving forward with that mutual understanding,’ said T.J. Ducklo, the deputy White House press secretary. ‘Organizations or individuals who traffic in conspiracy theories, propaganda and lies to spread disinformation will not be tolerated, and we’ll work with the WHCA to decide how to handle those instances moving forward.'”
If the Biden Press team sticks to those principles, they will have to ban to Fox News from the White House Press Room. The ultra-conservative network has always been a fount of “conspiracy theories, propaganda and lies,” and they are determined to continue that stance going forward. Of course, Biden’s press office isn’t going to expel Fox News no matter how much it is deserved. But the specific articulation of what they find intolerable is an arrow shot at the heart of Fox’s destructive and deceptive defiling of journalism.
Fox News is already making programming changes that further minimize hard news in favor of more wingnut blather. What’s more, there are reports that Trump-fluffers are migrating from his team to Fox News. They include the perpetually wrong Larry Kudlow, and the shameless lie peddler Kayleigh McEnany (although Fox is refuting her claim of having been hired by the network).
These moves are not entirely surprising. Fox News has new competition from even more extremist right-wing spews channels like Newsmax and One America News Network (OANN). And Trump has been viciously attacking his former Fox Friends and ordering his cult disciples to switch channels to the competition. Consequently, Fox is acting out of pure terror as they have seen their ratings plunge ever since the election in November.
In the primetime key demo last week (M-Su), CNN was up 172% compared to last year and averaged 875,000 viewers aged 25-54. MSNBC was up 50% with 540,000. Fox was down 25% and drew 429,000.
Tucker Carlson placed 16th in the weekday demo last week, Hannity 18th, and Ingraham 24th.
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) January 26, 2021
As welcome as it is to see Fox News flounder, it is concerning that they are turning up the fascismo to eleven in order to compete. And the channels that are eating up Fox’s audience are building an even more unhinged viewer base. All of them are singing from the same hymnal that Democrats are evil and the mainstream media is going soft on Biden. The latter is an especially entertaining hypocrisy considering how Fox News and the rest of the rightward ramblers have dealt with Trump for the past four years…
When Fox News talks about "fawning," they really know what they're talking about ? https://t.co/uEioe6D4GX
— Nooz Viktim (@noozvk) January 26, 2021
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How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.