The Trump-Fox News Relationship Is A Threat To Our Democracy

Fox News defends Trump's lies, amplifies his authoritarian tendencies, shifts his agenda, and gaslights the GOP base. This should concern every American.
President Trump and Fox News Host Sean Hannity (AP)

President Trump and Fox News Host Sean Hannity (AP)

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We’ve all witnessed the symbiosis between President Trump and Fox News. The network has not only acted as a propaganda arm for President Trump and the Republican Party, their programming directly influences White House policy. Critics perceive Fox News as a megaphone for President Trump’s brand of authoritarianism, but in reality, they are also the engineers of it. Without Fox News’ decades of dishonest programming, there would be no Trump base, and Jane Mayer’s blockbuster article from the New Yorker further demonstrates that.

In line with her years of reporting on the radical right, Jane Mayer published one of the most important reports of the Trump era. The piece, entitled “The Making of the Fox News White House,” outlines just how deep the Trump-Fox relationship goes, and revealed how far they’ve gone in furthering each other’s goals.

The main takeaways from the piece that received the most media attention involve how a Fox News reporter discovered the fact Trump paid hush money to Stormy Daniels. Since this discovery was just before the election, the network reportedly decided not to run the story because Murdoch wanted “Donald Trump to win.” The report also alleges Trump was given the heads up on debate questions before one of the Republican primary debates moderated by Fox.

And in a potential abuse of power, that might be of interest to House investigators, President Trump reportedly ordered then-Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn to pressure the Justice Department (DOJ to file a lawsuit to block the merger between AT&T and Time Warner. Mayer reported on the possibility that this could’ve been a favor to Fox News. Cohn reportedly didn’t follow the order, but the DOJ did file the lawsuit.

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The piece spent a lot of time talking about Trump’s relationship with Rupert Murdoch – whom Jared Kushner also reportedly speaks to almost every day. It touched on the constant coordination with Fox News Anchor Sean Hannity and the fact Fox Business Host Lou Dobbs has been conferenced into Oval Office meetings to advise the president on policy. And of course, the article touches on the public evidence of their coordination, from Trump’s morning briefing on Fox & Friends to Fox’s efforts to undermine the criminal investigations plaguing the president.

The article also outlines the beginnings of Rupert Murdoch’s network, and how Fox News seeks to stoke fear in an effort to maximize their bottom line at any cost. It details how the network changed after Roger Ailes left and how the opinion hosts gained more power. It discusses how the effective merger between the White House and Fox News was solidified after disgraced former Fox News Executive Bill Shine joined Trump’s administration. After Mayer mentions Fox News became a platform for Trump’s authoritarianism, she brings up a quote from Rupert Murdoch in 1995. Murdoch told the New Yorker: “The truth is, and we Americans don’t like to admit it, that authoritarian societies can work.”

The bottom line of the article depicts Fox News as state-run TV. This is unprecedented in American history. One part of the article further underlines this. There were reports before the election that indicated Trump was planning a potential news network if he lost. This piece adds some clarity to those intentions. Mayer reports that Bannon reportedly called Ailes a week before the 2016 election and said Trump was planning to launch Trump TV—a nationalist network to rival Fox. Ailes was excited. He was no longer working for Fox and was ready to join after Trump lost, Mayer reported. When Bannon heard Ailes talk about Trump losing he reportedly said: “What’re you talking about, we’re going to win”

Donald Trump wanted a network regardless of the outcome of the 2016 election. Now he has one.

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Opinion // Authoritarianism / Donald Trump / Fox News / Republican Party