Does the White House Consider Fox News a News Organization? Let’s Ask the WH Press Secretary

The question as to the legitimacy of Fox News is not one that has been difficult to answer. It was designed from the start to be a right-wing propaganda dispenser by its founders, Rupert Murdoch (an ultra-conservative newspaper baron), and Roger Ailes (a Republican media consultant). That’s not exactly a roster of reputable journalists.

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Fox News, Peter Doocy, Karine Jean-Pierre

Twenty-seven years later, Fox News has exceeded the aspirations of its politically prejudiced founders. In recent weeks the network has been exposed as being brazenly dishonest. Internal communications made public by Dominion Voting Systems in their defamation lawsuit against Fox reveal that its executives and hosts were telling their viewers one thing, while saying the opposite to one another in private.

RELATED: Hannity Admits in Fox News Lawsuit that ‘I Did Not Believe [Trump’s Big Lie] for One Second’

Those depositions affirm that Fox News knew very well that there was no truth to their “reporting” of fraud in the 2020 presidential election. While they were lying to their viewers on the air, they were discussing privately among themselves about the “crazy” and “idiotic” assertions that Donald Trump had actually won. They even openly disparaged Trump as dangerous confessed their personal hatred for him.

The subject of the Dominion vs Fox News lawsuit came up Friday on MSNBC’s “Alex Wagner Tonight.” Wagner prefaced a question addressing the matter during an interview with White House Press Secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, by noting that “The White House has been fairly outspoken about what’s happening in certain Republican circles – specifically, what’s going on over at Fox News.” Which led to the following exchange…

Wagner: Does the White House consider Fox News a news organization?

Jean-Pierre: I’ll say this. When you look at the depositions that have been out there recently, it even states from FOX leadership that they do not see Tucker Carlson’s show as news or even truthful. That is coming from the FOX News leadership. That is not coming from me. That is coming from them.

I also would quote – I’ll paraphrase here – what the Chief of Capitol Police said. He said essentially when you watch Tucker Carlson as it relates to January 6th, it is misleading, and it is misinformation as with the conclusion of what happened on January 6th, the attacks that happened. As you saw from the President’s statement, nearly 140 officers were injured on that day. It was an attack on our democracy. It was an attack on our constitution. And you cannot whitewash that. Tucker Carlson cannot whitewash that.

Wagner: So, I’m gonna say that sort of sounds like the White House doesn’t think Fox is a news organization, but we gotta leave it there.

Jean-Pierre correctly noted that Fox News itself has defended its hosts (successfully) in defamation lawsuits by arguing that “no reasonable person” would take what they say seriously. Fox News lawyers singled out Tucker Carlson saying that

“[Carlson] cannot be understood to have been stating facts, but instead that he was delivering an opinion using hyperbole for effect. [and that] given Mr. Carlson’s reputation, any reasonable viewer ‘arrive[s] with an appropriate amount of skepticism’ about the statements he makes.”

In other words, Carlson is a known liar whose commentaries can be dismissed out of hand as the ravings of a dishonest blowhard. And the evidence from the Dominion case drives that point home. The problem with this legal argument, however, is that Fox’s viewers are not remotely reasonable. Consequently, there is real and measurable harm done to millions of feeble-minded cultists.

While Jean-Pierre didn’t give a definitive yes or no answer, the gist of her response was plainly evident. Wagner got the message and rephrased it as an affirmative. Jean-Pierre smiled knowingly, and didn’t challenge Wagner’s interpretation. What’s more, the fact that Fox News is not a news organization was an opinion that the Biden administration held from the first days of its term. And they said so explicitly…

“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,’ […] ‘Organizations or individuals who traffic in conspiracy theories, propaganda and lies to spread disinformation will not be tolerated.”

If the Biden press team, as well as the White House Correspondent’s Association, were to adhere to those principles, they would be required to ban Fox News from all White House media events, including the daily briefings. And the revelations from the Dominion case provide the strongest argument yet to impose that ban.

A pseudo-news operation like Fox should not be credentialed so that it can masquerade as legitimate journalism. At the very least, they should be required to acknowledge their lies, apologize to their audience, their peers, and the nation, and take reparative action (i.e. fire Fox CEO Suzanne Scott, as well as hosts Carlson, Sean Hannity, and other offenders) before their credentials are restored. Short of that they should be shunned and banished to the pod swamps with the likes of Alex Jones and Steve Bannon.


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