Jane Mayer, arguably America’s best investigative reporter, exposes Fox News as the “servile propaganda operation” it is in a blockbuster story in the current edition of The New Yorker: “The Making of the Fox News White House.”
It’s not that we didn’t already know or suspect much of what Mayer covers in her report; it’s that she brought new facts to the surface, shed light on shadowy relationships and connected many dots, all in a single story. Here are some highlights Mayer herself tweeted or retweeted:
We’ve said more than once around here that if Fox News had been around in Nixon’s day, he might have survived Watergate. The final graf of Mayer’s story reiterates that point:
Jerry Taylor, the co-founder of the Niskanen Center, a think tank in Washington for moderates, says, “In a hypothetical world without Fox News, if President Trump were to be hit hard by the Mueller report, it would be the end of him. But, with Fox News covering his back with the Republican base, he has a fighting chance, because he has something no other President in American history has ever had at his disposal—a servile propaganda operation.”
That doesn’t go far enough. Leaving aside the Mueller report, Trump’s public antics to date should have caused his “presidency” to collapse in scandal.
Fox News has been a cancer since its inception, but its fusion with Trump made it more reckless and powerful. The GOP has leveraged stupidity and hate to fight democracy and advance the interests of plutocrats for generations, but its merger with Trump made it more openly racist, sexist, xenophobic and greedy, as it mirrors the qualities of the demagogue it animated and sustains. Mayer skillfully lays all this out in a must-read story.
I have no idea how to address our nation’s Fox News problem, but blowing the lid off the network’s shenanigans as Mayer did seems important. One thing Fox News relies on — it’s founding principle, really — is the timidity of the mainstream Beltway press, most members of which have long pretended that Fox News is just a regular old cable news network.
Remember when the Obama administration correctly observed that Fox is “not a news organization,” sending cable news personality Jake Tapper and others to the fainting couches? Well, the Obama administration was right then, and the problem is even worse now.
Tapper and Co. righteously (and rightly) harangue Trump for painting targets on the backs of reporters; maybe a glimpse of how seamlessly Fox News amplifies and justifies Trump’s attacks will cause the Tappers of the world to reevaluate their “sister network.” Haha, nope, probably not!
Anyhoo, in my more optimistic moments, I hope Trump’s shit-Midas touch will boomerang back, causing the lies he flings as artifacts of projection to stick to their rightful objects. It’s Trump who’s the fucking crook. It’s his Republican lackeys who engage in witch hunts. Voter fraud that supposedly benefits Democrats isn’t a real problem, but election fraud to benefit Republicans damn sure is. There’s a crime wave alright, but it’s not undocumented immigrants — it’s corrupt white collar crooks and influence peddlers. And Fox News is fake news.
I don’t have a lot of hope that any of this will come to pass, but Mayer’s latest piece sure wraps up the last bit neatly. If the “view from nowhere” media yappers and Fox News reporters who still regard themselves as actual journalists are going to keep pretending that Fox News is legitimate, their delusion must be classified henceforth as “willful.”
PS: Sorry about the Twitter chain above — that’s not my preferred format. But since all of these tweets are from Mayer’s feed, it seemed like the simplest way to highlight what she thought were the most important aspects of the story. But do read the whole thing!