How to Fight a Vulnerable Fox News
Fox News has never been more vulnerable, now is the time for Democrats to press their advantage.
Fox News is fucked.
Rupert Murdoch and his merry band of insurrectionists (Hannity), racists (Tucker), propagandists (Ingraham), and fake journalists (Baier) are in a whole heap of legal trouble.
As I am sure you know by now, Fox News is being sued by Dominion Voting Systems for $1.6 billion for defamation. The testimony and text messages released in the court filings have been devastating. Fox News Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his Viet Dinh, the Chief Legal Officer, both admitted under oath that the network failed to meet its responsibility to knowingly stop false information from making it onto the airwaves.
While defamation cases are typically tough to win, the folks at Fox decided to violate the “Stringer Bell” principle and repeatedly text about their culpability in real time. Many legal experts believe Fox will lose the case, and executives and on-air personalities could get the ax to stanch the bleeding.
In some ways, my career in political communications has been defined by the rise of Fox News and the rest of the Right Wing media. For the entirety of the twenty-first century, Fox News has been the most powerful weapon in the Right’s arsenal. From Capitol Hill, the campaign trail, the White House, and now from my perch in progressive media, I watched Fox start wars, beat Democrats into submission, drive reams of mainstream press coverage, and make Donald Trump President. But they have never been more vulnerable. Here’s how Democrats should adjust their approach to Fox News.
1. Treat Fox News Like Breitbart
It’s been ages since any Democrat bought the fiction that Fox News was “fair and balanced” or even a Center Right journalistic entity. No one thinks they are the same as CNN or the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal. But the culture of Washington, D.C. still gives Fox and its “journalists” an undeserved legitimacy. Fox News is still part of the White House network pool covering presidential events. They are given access; and their questions are taken seriously and answered by White House and Congressional aides. Journalists from legitimate organizations rush to Fox’s defense when Democrats threaten to treat them like the propaganda network they are. Bret Baier and other Fox “journalists” are regulars on the Beltway social circuit.
This is not an argument to kick Fox out of the White House or prevent them from doing their “job.” The White House and Congressional press corps are filled with Right Wing outlets. When Obama was in the White House, Breitbart, the Washington Examiner, and the Daily Caller positioned representatives in the White House briefing room on a daily basis. These outlets show up to cover events. Democrats don’t interfere with them. When they call Democratic press offices with their loaded questions, no one returns the call.
We understand these fringe outlets are the opposition — functionally the same as the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign. In fact, most of these outlets are the same people who fund the GOP and Trump. But that’s not how most Democrats treat Fox News. They are treated more seriously. Their questions are often answered. Fox gets called on in press conferences and White House briefings. Because Fox is a cable television network — and a successful one at that — they are too often given an outdated imprimatur of legitimacy. Democrats and reporters consider the people working on the “news” side of Fox to be part of the broader journalistic community. They are considered different from the MAGA-addled hacks at Trump’s favorite digital outlets.
The revelations in the Dominion lawsuit make it clear that even “journalists” like Bret Baier are complicit in the worst behavior at Fox. They are propagandists — nothing more and nothing less. And it is essential that we treat them like political adversaries. Never again, should a Democrat feel a need to accommodate a Fox News reporter, answer their question, or appear on their show out of fairness or duty.
Those days are over. There are no objective journalists at Fox. There are just obvious propagandists writing opinion pieces and, more dangerously, subtle propagandists who pretend to be journalists.
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