The presidency of Donald Trump has distinguished itself for its hostility to the media and the Constitution’s protection of a free press. His tedious whining about “fake news” and his Stalinist references to the media as “the enemy of the people” are evidence of his desire to poison the public’s minds in order to suppress criticism of him and his administration.
That said, no president has ever been more closely intertwined with a media enterprise than Trump is with Fox News. Before his election he was a regularly scheduled contributor to Fox and Friends with a segment called “Mondays with Trump.” He limits his interviews to Fox News on a nearly exclusive basis. His administration is infested with former Fox News staffers. They include: Deputy Chief of Staff, Bill Shine, who was the president of the network before being fired for mishandling incidents of sexual harassment; ambassador to the United Nations nominee, Heather Nauert, a former Fox host; National Security Advisor, John Bolton, an ex-Fox contributor.
In addition, Trump employs current Fox News anchors as his de facto cabinet, getting advice on everything from the economy to military engagements, to taxes and more. Sean Hannity is reported to talk with the President almost every night before bedtime. Lou Dobbs is often on conference call during Oval Office meetings. Jeanine Pirro is a favorite consultant on legal matters. And Trump is frequently live-tweeting whatever he happens to be watching on Fox, day and night.
Recently, Trump was prepared to sign a bipartisan bill to keep the government open. But when Fox Newsies heard that it didn’t provide funding for his idiotic vanity wall, they went berserk. Subsequently, Trump reversed course, and now we find ourselves in what is about to become the longest government shutdown in history. Which makes it all the more troubling that many of Trump’s Fox faves are now imploring him to declare a national emergency as a tactic to fund the wall that has nothing to do with any emergency, and that most Americans oppose. For instance, as reported by Media Matters:
Sean Hannity: So, with the president speaking, I’m guessing he’s going to declare a national emergency. […] victims of crime happening in this country, that should be enough of a national emergency.
Lou Dobbs: This is the president of the United States. He says a wall should be built; that it’s a national emergency. At that point, the nation should rally behind him. […] It is a national emergency, it is a crisis, and there could be no rational disputation of that.
Lou Dobbs (again): I really believe that the way forward here is for him to declare a national emergency, and simply sweep aside the recalcitrant left in this country.
Stuart Varney: I think this total refusal to negotiate has pushed the president to the point where he has to declare an emergency on the border.
Rush Limbaugh: And so they empowered the executive branch with the National Emergencies Act. He can confiscate private businesses, if he wants. All he has to do is declare it a national emergency.
Gregg Jarrett: The National Emergency Act authorizes the president to declare an emergency, and nobody can second-guess him. He has unfettered authority. […] he can use the military, redirect them for construction of an unauthorized project, whatever it is, the president wants it to be. That can be the barrier wall, and nobody can stop him from doing it.
Bob Bianchi (Fox guest): To me, politically, it makes perfect sense. [for Trump to] invoke my powers as the president under the National Emergency Act and under one of these sub-acts that allows me to move funds around to build this border wall.
Tom Fitton (on Tucker Carlson Tonight): It is a national emergency when we have a thousand plus miles of unsecured border in our southern area without any ability to figure out who’s coming across. We know the terrorists are targeting [the] southern border.
Considering how gullible Trump is, and how easily influenced he is by his Fox News brain(?) trust, it’s a foregone conclusion that he’ll declare a national emergency. However, contrary to the ravings of Trump and Fox, he does not have unfettered authority to do so. It will undoubtedly be challenged in court. And since the facts don’t support any claim to a crisis, he’ll almost certainly lose. In the meantime, millions of people are hurt and the nation is stifled by Trump’s ignorance and ego. Hopefully that can all be avoided by Congress waking up and doing the right thing. But given the abdication of its civic duty, Mitch McConnell’s Senate has to be considered a long shot.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.