With the release of the redacted version of the Mueller report by Donald Trump’s plant in the Justice Department, Attorney General William Barr, there is going to be a flurry of furious spinning by Trump’s devoted martinets in the right-wing press. Trump himself will continue his frantic robo-rant of “no collusion, no obstruction,” as he has been doing for months.
Naturally, Fox News will assume its predictable role as the main line of defense for Trump. They will focus exclusively on any positive angles among the vague interpretations of Mueller’s report offered by Barr or other Republican partisans. And they will brazenly ignore anything in the report that is remotely detrimental to Trump, of which there is a significant amount. Even Chris Wallace of Fox News noted that “There is a lot of stuff in here that is damaging to the president, politically embarrassing to the president.”
However, Fox News itself had a place in the Mueller report with four references to Trump’s State TV affiliate. The following passages from the report illustrate just how deeply integrated Fox is with Trump and his associates. For instance:
“That night, the White House Press Office called the Department of Justice and said the White House wanted to put out a statement saying that it was Rosenstein’s idea to fire Comey. Rosenstein told other DOJ officials that he would not participate in putting out a ‘false story.’ The President then called Rosenstein directly and said he was watching Fox News, that the coverage had been great, and that he wanted Rosenstein to do a press conference. Rosenstein responded that this was not a good idea because if the press asked him, he would tell the truth that Comey’s firing was not his idea.”
What we have here is Trump keeping tabs on the investigation by watching Fox News, and then trying to get Deputy AG Rosenstein to lie for him about FBI Director James Comey’s firing. That’s obstruction of justice right there. The fact that Rosenstein refused doesn’t make Trump’s attempt any less illegal. And then there’s this:
“[Reince] Priebus recalled learning about the June 9 meeting from Fox News host Sean Hannity in late June 2017. Priebus notified one of the President’s personal attorneys, who told Priebus he was already working on it. By late June, several advisors recalled receiving media inquiries that could relate to the June 9 meeting.”
It’s rather remarkable that Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff, found out about the infamous Trump Tower meeting (with Don Jr, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and some Russian operatives) only by watching Fox News. That’s how out-of-the-loop Trump’s closest White House aide was, but also how integral Fox News is to Trump’s affairs. And that’s not all:
“In a Fox News interview on August 22, 2018, the President said: ‘[Cohen] makes a better deal when he uses me, like everybody else. And one of the reasons l respect Paul Manafort so much is he went through that trial-you know they make up stories. People make up stories. This whole thing about flipping, they call it, I know all about flipping. The President said that flipping was ‘not fair’ and ‘almost ought to be outlawed.'”
In this “interview” with the unabashedly pro-Trump “Curvy Couch” potatoes of Fox and Friends, Trump is laying the groundwork for threats directed at his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, while simultaneously praising his more loyal campaign chairman, Manafort. This is a fairly clumsy attempt at witness tampering. Which he did some more of here:
“In January 2019, after the media reported that Cohen would provide public testimony in a congressional hearing, the President made additional public comments suggesting that Cohen’s family members had committed crimes. In an interview on Fox on January 12, 2019, the President was asked whether he was worried about Cohen’s testimony and responded:
‘[I]n order to get his sentence reduced, [Cohen] says “I have an idea, I’ll ah, tell-I’ll give you some information on the president.” Well, there is no information. But he should give information maybe on his father-in-law because that’s the one that people want to look at because where does that money-that’s the money in the family.'”
Trump made these accusations during an interview with his adoring acolyte, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro. They were directed against Cohen’s family as a flagrant attempt to scare him into keeping his mouth shut.
It’s hard to see why Mueller didn’t think he had sufficient evidence to indict Trump, or at least to recommend that Congress take up an inquiry that could lead to impeachment. And as guilty as Trump now appears to be, it’s plain that Fox News was a willing accomplice every step of the way. It is not insignificant that Fox was referenced four times in the report. They were further included in twenty-seven footnotes. No other national news network was referenced in the body of the report even once. What does that tell you?
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.