Last week the militant flank of Donald trump’s cult brigades mounted a seditious assault on the Congress of the United States. Their mission was to disrupt the legislative branch of government from performing its constitutional duty to certify the results of the presidential election. Their orders came from Trump himself who was intent on overturning the will of the American people and declaring himself the de facto dictator of the country.
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Trump’s plot was a predictable failure, like pretty much everything else he attempts. But it still produced significant harm as at least five people were killed, and untold more injured. And that isn’t counting the harm it did to the nation’s reputation and faith in democracy.
However, this violent and unpatriotic insurrection didn’t happen in a political vacuum. It was whipped into a manic state of irrational fury by the relentless provocation of Trump, who devoted months to persuading his cult disciples to ignore reality and to disbelieve the facts about the election that he lost decisively to Joe Biden.
Trump was aided and abetted by an ultra-conservative pack of media shills who parroted his delusional assertions of election fraud. And that media contingent was led, as usual, by Fox News. Sycophantic bootlickers like Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs, Jeanine Pirro and the “Curvy Couch” potatoes of Fox and Friends, all contributed to the flagrant flurry of falsehoods that buttressed Trump’s attempted coup.
The traitorous rhetoric disgorged by Fox News was produced and sanctioned by the family of Rupert Murdoch that controls the company. The patriarch, Rupert, still serves as chairman of the media empire. His son Lachlan is the current CEO. And their hand-picked executive team carries out their orders to advance the rightist dogma of the Trump-led Republican Party.
Rupert’s other son, James, has set himself apart from any operational role in the family business. Although he is still a major stockholder and sits on the board of directors. However, he appears to have somewhat less extremist conservative positions. And that was evident in his remarks following the Capitol riots:
“The damage is profound. The sacking of the Capitol is proof positive that what we thought was dangerous is indeed very much so. Those outlets that propagate lies to their audience have unleashed insidious and uncontrollable forces that will be with us for years. […]
“Spreading disinformation – whether about the election, public health or climate change – has real world consequences. Many media property owners have as much responsibility as the elected officials who know the truth but instead choose to propagate lies. We hope the awful scenes we have all been seeing will finally convince those enablers to repudiate the toxic politics they have promoted once and forever.”
James Murdoch nimbly avoided naming names in his commentary. But it’s difficult to imagine anyone other than Fox News when he cites “those outlets that propagate lies.” Fox News has long been the foremost offender among media sources that were “spreading disinformation” about “the election, public health or climate change.” So when brother James condemns the “media property owners … who know the truth but instead choose to propagate lies,” it’s impossible to believe that he isn’t referring to his father Rupert, and his brother Lachlan.
And James is right about the persistent damage caused by the purposeful dishonesty of his family of propagandists. They enabled both Trump and the hordes he commanded into the service of his totalitarian aspirations. His statement is a profound condemnation of a media Firestarter bent on burning down the foundation of American democracy.
However, what will James do about it going forward? As a board member and stockholder he has considerable clout in shaping the future direction of the company. And he has both ethical and financial arguments for insisting on major changes. After all, Fox News has taken a considerable hit in the ratings since the election on November 3rd. CNN has actually been beating Fox regularly since then. Even MSNBC has been outperforming Fox.
So now that Fox is languishing in third place it would be a good time to shake up their programming. The problem is that they have actually been getting worse and worse. They even announced recently that they will not broadcast an inaugural special on January 20th that is being carried by CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and NBC. So if James wants to be taken seriously, he needs to do more than release statements to his pals in the press.
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How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.