The relationship between Donald Trump and Fox News goes back years. Long before he was running for president he had a regular segment on Fox and Friends called “Mondays with Trump.” It served as the launching pad for his eventual campaign and a platform from which he could attack President Obama. In addition to that free political infomercial time, Trump was close friends with Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Roger Ailes.
This parasitic partnership served both the ego of Trump and the greed of Fox. Consequently, it’s not especially surprising that it would continue into his presidency. However no one could have predicted the depths it would reach. From the outset of the nascent Trump administration, he has used the right-wing network as a virtual farm team. The only other comparably rich pool of potential White House recruits was Goldman Sachs. This week two new Foxies became the beneficiaries of Trump’s job creation program.
Heather Nauert was most recently a co-host and news presenter on Fox and Friends. Now she has been tapped as spokeswoman for the State Department. This is her first government job.
Following her to Trumpville is Fox contributor Richard Grennell. He served as Director of Communications for the U.S. representative to the United Nations from 2001 to 2008 before signing on at Fox. That means he was the key spokesman throughout the Iraq war debacle. Now Trump is nominating him to be the ambassador to NATO. What’s peculiar about this is that Trump has repeatedly criticized the U.S. invasion of Iraq that it was Grennell’s job to defend. And now Trump wants to put him at NATO, an organization Trump said was outdated.
These two Foxugees are joining three former colleagues already on Team Trump. K.T. McFarland, Ben Carson, and Sebastian Gorka. There would have been four but Monica Crowley withdrew from the National Security Council after being exposed as a plagiarist. She’s back at Fox now. Appearing on Hannity Tuesday night she whined that she had been the victim of “a straight up political hit job.” She also said that her publisher backed her up but, in fact, they halted all sales of her book.
Still more Fox personnel have been considered for administration roles. Trump appears to be building a de facto Ministry of Propaganda out of the White House. All of the elements are falling into place. He’s assembled a cast of characters that has experience in developing fiction and defending the indefensible. Now on the inside they can be counted on to continue showering him with praise and deflecting criticism.
On the other side of this partnership, Fox News is well positioned to take advantage of their unique circumstance. They can expect to be excluded from Trump’s tirades against “fake news.” More importantly, the network’s corporate parent can count on Trump to shepherd through regulations that benefit the company. Fox would love to have the FCC relax TV station ownership caps so they can monopolize markets by buying up more stations. Also high among the priorities of Fox’s CEO Rupert Murdoch, is scuttling the merger of competitors AT&T and TimeWarner. That’s actually a good idea, but not for the selfish reasons Murdoch harbors.
Finally, how can Fox News fairly cover an administration that’s lousy with its own former employees? This presents a conflict that is unprecedented. Those involved are closely associated with one another, and they likely expect to return to Fox after their government service. So neither will want to antagonize the other for fear of hampering future opportunities.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” is being kept by draining it right into the White House. The stench of corruption stemming from his unsavory connections to Russia now has a media machine to mask the odor. It’s the sort of thing that one observes in the regimes of dictators. There has never been anything similar in the United States. It’s up to what’s left of the independent press to make sure it doesn’t take hold. So we may be in big trouble.