One of the most brazenly dishonest claims emanating from Donald Trump was expressed recently in this tweet saying that “there has NEVER been a President who has been more transparent.” Of course, the truth is that Trump has been extraordinarily resistant to allowing full and unfettered investigations into his activities as President, as a candidate, and as a private businessman.
Trump famously refused to grant special counsel Robert Mueller an interview. He declined to answer questions in written form. And most recently he decreed that he will fight any and all requests for information coming from Congress, and will oppose any attempts to subpoena documents or testimony. He has already seen to it that senior administration officials have put themselves in legal jeopardy by failing to comply with lawful subpoenas. They include White House counsel Don McGahn, Attorney General William Barr, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
However, now Trump has taken another unprecedented step into the realm of pure totalitarianism to which he clearly aspires. He sent a letter to former White House aides Annie Donaldson and Hope Hicks advising them to break the law as well by ignoring document subpoenas. These women are no longer in the employ of the President and their compliance is not covered by assertions of executive privilege. Donaldson was the deputy White House Counsel under McGahn. But Hicks, who served as Trump’s Communications Director, has a unique problem.
Hope Hicks is currently the Executive Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for the Fox Corporation, which is the parent company of Fox News. That means that Trump is actually ordering an employee of Fox to disobey a congressional subpoena. Any other corporation would have a hard time justifying adherence to such a request. Particularly a news enterprise that is supposed to be independent of political associations.
The question of Fox’s political independence, of course, is a joke. There has never been a news enterprise more closely tied to an American president than Fox News is to Donald Trump. They were responsible for his election. And ever since they have showered him and his agenda with praise, while viciously attacking his critics. The top figures on the network (Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Lou Dobbs, etc.) have appeared at his cult rallies and given him private advice on both politics and policy.
Nevertheless, it is troubling that Trump is in a position to bark orders at executives of Fox News. This surpasses the ethical depravity of his recent call for a boycott of AT&T in order to punish CNN. If Fox obeys Trump’s commands they are complicit in his efforts to cover up his crimes. What’s more, they are derelict in their duty to cover the news by endorsing the President’s attempts to suppress it. They are, in effect, making themselves accomplices to obstruction of justice.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
Fox News has not commented on Trump’s illegal demands on Hicks to withhold information that Congress has constitutional authority to request. But they have previously defended Trump when he ordered former staffers to disobey subpoenas. So why would Fox change their opinion now? Well, for one thing, the others were not employed by Fox. Will that matter to a network whose political partisanship is so obvious? We’ll see. But don’t expect Fox News to the honorable thing. It’s not in their blood.