The not-so-old adage that “elections have consequences” has proven once again to be an insightful admonition to those who would defy democracy and the indefatigable will of the American people. Donald Trump found this out the hard way by narrowing his appeal to an impotent minority of racists and far-right extremists, rather than seeking to broaden his base by reaching out to the reality-based community.
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Among the consequences that Trump will suffer, in addition to his humiliating electoral defeat, are a rapid undoing of his worst policy initiatives (i.e. climate change, immigration, healthcare, etc.), the expulsion of his most despicable appointees throughout his administration (i.e. Justice, Defense, Intelligence, EPA, etc.), and an avalanche of of both criminal and civil lawsuits (tax/financial, sexual harassment/assault, defamation, etc.). Trump may have less time available for golf and television as a private citizen than he did as the alleged “president.”
Joe Biden’s inauguration speech was surprisingly well received considering his reputation for something less than soaring oratory. Even Chris Wallace of Fox News said that it was “the best inaugural address I ever heard.” But don’t let that fool you into thinking that Fox News has turned over new leaf. Sean Hannity watched the same address and described our new president as “the weak, the frail, the cognitively struggling Biden.” Clearly Hannity was viewing it through his manure-caked eyeglasses.
While Biden touched an many subjects of great importance to the American people (i.e. the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy, international relations, and his commitment to national unity), he included some specific passages that foretold a renewed respect for the free press. Gone is Trump’s Stalinist yowl that “the media is the enemy of the people.” In Biden’s inaugural address he correctly observed that “We face an attack on democracy and on truth.” Then he pointedly made these profound remarks:
“Politics need not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war. And, we must reject a culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.”
“Manipulated” and “manufactured” facts are another way of saying “alternative” facts (h/t Kellyanne Conway). It’s also a nod to what Fox news has done throughout Trump’s occupation of the White House.
“There is truth and there are lies. Lies told for power and for profit. And each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders – leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation – to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.”
This is another shout out to Trump’s Ministry of Propaganda (aka Fox News), where “Lies told for power and for profit” is embedded in their corporate mission statement.
“But the answer is not to turn inward, to retreat into competing factions, distrusting those who don’t look like you do, or worship the way you do, or don’t get their news from the same sources you do.”
Here Biden is being generous by lumping Fox News in with legitimate sources of news. Even Fox doesn’t call what they do “news.” It is literally a part of their entertainment division. And it isn’t going to get any better in the post-Trump era. They have already announced programming changes that shift more airtime to their ultra-conservative opinion hosts.
For his part, Joe Biden is making good on his promise to restore truth and decency to the White House press corps and its relationship with the media. Early on in his term Trump abandoned daily press briefings. He went weeks without holding any. And when he did, they were filled with lies and self-serving blather. His press secretaries were a confederacy of dishonest spinners (Sean Spicer, Sarah Huckabee-Sanders, Kayleigh McEnany) whose flair for flagrant falsehoods was famous.
Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, held her first press briefing on Inauguration Day. She told reporters that her goal was to “bring transparency and truth back to the American government.” Elaborating, she said that…
“I have deep respect for a free and independent press in our democracy and for the role that all of you play. As I noted earlier, there will be moments when we disagree and there will certainly be days we disagree for extensive parts of the briefing even perhaps. But we have a common goal, which is sharing accurate information with the American people.”
That’s a refreshing upgrade from the bellicose bundle of belligerence that stained Trump’s hostile and childish tantrum throwing tirades whenever he engaged the press. It’s a return to the more productive encounters that provide opportunities for political leaders to communicate with the public, while simultaneously allowing journalists to confront those leaders on the public’s behalf. And if both the President and the press pursue those as their goals, the nation can only be better off for it.
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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.