After three years of bootlicking fealty to Donald Trump, there are very few people who would dispute that Fox News is serving as the Ministry of Propaganda for the Trump regime. There has never been a “news” organization more tightly aligned with a political leader and party than Fox News. They even regularly exchange personnel who seamlessly work for both the network and the White House. Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, and others are card-carrying members of Trump’s “Shadow Cabinet.”
Other than Fox News, Trump has been relentlessly hostile to the press from the beginning of his presidency. He routinely refers to it in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the people,” and dismisses any less than adoring coverage as “fake news.” Michael M. Grynbaum of the New York times took note of this in a year-end column that accurately described 2019 as the “darkest year yet for journalists“ He elaborated…
“On Twitter, President Trump deployed the phrase ‘fake news’ 273 times this year — 50 percent more often than he did in 2018. He demanded ‘retribution’ over a ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketch, declared that Washington Post reporters ‘shouldn’t even be allowed on the grounds of the White House,’ and accused The New York Times of ‘Treason.’ […]
Mr. Trump’s vilification of the news media is a hallmark of his tenure and a jagged break from the norms of his predecessors: Once a global champion of the free press, the presidency has become an inspiration to autocrats and dictators who ape Mr. Trump’s cry of ‘fake news.'”
Trump has terminated the daily press briefings that were a decades-long part of White House operations. He replaced them with his “Chopper Talk” harangues on the lawn of the White House where he’ll berate reporters and lie unashamedly while dodging their questions. And his constant assaults on the press creates an environment of imminent risk to the lives of reporters. Trump even whined to Vladimir Putin that he would like to “get rid of them,” expressing his envy of Putin’s ability to assassinate journalists who offend him. That’s the sort of loathsome rhetoric that caused the Committee to Protect Journalists to issue a long and detailed condemnation of Trump as “an unprecedented threat,” and went on to say…
“Donald Trump, through his words and actions as a candidate for president of the United States, has consistently betrayed First Amendment values. […] A Trump presidency would represent a threat to press freedom in the United States.”
In response to the article in the New York Times (a frequent victim of Trump’s attacks), right-wing media hack Joe Concha appeared on Fox News to defend Trump’s malicious behavior (video below). However, he proffered a badly mangled argument that Trump was justified in criticizing the press because they were so critical of him. The problem with that is that no one was suggesting that Trump couldn’t offer his own criticisms. But there is a difference between pointing out what he believes are inaccuracies, and accusing reporters of treason.
Likewise, Concha argued that Trump couldn’t be considered a threat to journalists because he speaks to them directly from time to time. Once again, that doesn’t excuse what he’s actually saying in those encounters. If you threaten reporters with cancellation of their credentials, or with prosecution and imprisonment, you cannot simultaneously claim you’re not a threat because you spoke to them.
Fox and Friends co-host Steve Doocy eagerly agreed with Concha’s premise, saying that Trump often approaches reporters at Mar-A-Lago and takes questions. What Doocy didn’t acknowledge is that those avails are always designed to give Trump the advantage. He takes only the questions he wants, and pretends he didn’t hear the others. And if his answers are insufficient, or totally irrelevant, he refuses follow-ups or any effort to clarify.
The problem with what Concha and Doocy are saying is that they regard Trump’s insults and threats as legitimate critiques of the media. They ignore Trump’s menacing outbursts that cast journalists as criminals and traitors. And they don’t seem to comprehend that labeling everything you disagree agree with as “Fake” isn’t a coherent rebuttal. It’s a flagrant attempt to demean an honorable profession, and the only one protected by the Constitution.
Trump’s purpose is to destroy the public’s confidence in the only institution they can rely on to keep them informed and hold the powerful accountable. In this way Trump hopes to get away with his criminal, amoral, and disloyal, activities. And Joe Concha and Fox News are right there to back him up.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.