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Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters
Tucker Carlson's Fox News show is a toxic combination of Infowars-style conspiracy theories and Stormfront-esque xenophobia because that's what network founder Rupert Murdoch, parent company CEO Lachlan Murdoch, and network CEO Suzanne Scott want in their 8 p.m. hour. Fox executives keep making excuses for Carlson's malignant commentary, he correctly interprets their defenses as a green light to be ever more extreme, and all the other stakeholders in the network are willing to go along with it.
Amid a gleefully dishonest Wednesday night screed, Carlson accused Democrats of wanting "to change the racial mix of the country" through immigration, adding, "This policy is called 'the great replacement,' the replacement of legacy Americans with more obedient people from far-away countries." That is, in fact, what white supremacists call that conspiracy theory.
When Carlson similarly claimed in April that Democrats want to "replace the current electorate" with "more obedient voters from the Third World," the Anti-Defamation League called for his firing, with ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt noting in a letter to Scott that Carlson was invoking a "classic white supremacist trope" that has "lit the fuse in explosive hate crimes." But Lachlan Murdoch sent a letter in response claiming that Carlson had actually "decried and rejected replacement theory" and been simply talking about voting rights. Carlson responded by putting the "great replacement" theory at the center of his show, creeping closer and closer to the line until last night's broadcast, which definitively destroyed Murdoch's defense.
Fox's response thus far has been to promote Carlson's latest invocation of the bigoted conspiracy theory his boss had previously claimed he rejected.Also on Wednesday, Carlson hosted a guest, Navy Cmdr J.H. Furman, who suggested that the vaccines for COVID-19 might be more dangerous than the virus that causes it. Furman has written a memo arguing that mandating the COVID-19 vaccines "may compromise U.S. national security due to the unknown extent of serious vaccine complications," which was picked up by right-wing media outlets. During his appearance, he told Carlson's audience that the coronavirus "has a harm rate, or a mortality rate of 0.001 percent Compare that with the VAERS harm rate where COVID vaccination harm over the last 20 months has taken almost half of the total harm's totals in the VAERS database, the 20-years long VAERS database."
In May, Carlson began promoting the lie that thousands of Americans have died in the "single deadliest mass vaccination event in modern history," citing data from VAERS, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. When journalists debunked his claim, noting that VAERS data is publicly sourced without verification, Lachlan Murdoch stood by him, falsely claiming that Carlson was saying "nothing the CDC itself isn't saying." Carlson's program has continued peddling the VAERS falsehood ever since as part of what seems like his single-minded devotion to limit vaccinations. His campaign, and that of his right-wing media colleagues, has had devastating consequences.
The Murdochs or Scott could have stepped in after Carlson started parroting blood-soaked white supremacist conspiracy theories or lying to his viewers about the safety and effectiveness of a safe, effective vaccine that Rupert Murdoch and more than 90 percent of Fox full-time employees have apparently taken. But this is the kind of network that they want to run, so they've made him its face.
There's no signal from the Fox Corp. board, including former House Speaker Paul Ryan, that the network should change course. And chief political anchor Bret Baier and the rest of Fox's "news" division seem content to look the other way and continue cashing their paychecks.
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Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters
The ABC, CBS, and NBC morning and evening news broadcasts have all ignored the revelation that one of then-President Donald Trump's lawyers authored a memo laying out how Trump could effectively pull off a coup.
John Eastman, a member of the conservative legal establishment who worked with Trump's legal team as the then-president sought to overturn the results of the 2020 election, wrote the document in the days leading up to the January 6 counting of electoral votes. His plan lays out various ways then-Vice President Mike Pence and congressional Republicans could use that
event to subvert the election, ensure that Trump remained in office, and terminate the American experiment with democratic rule.
Reporters at The Washington Post and CNN obtained a two-page version of the memo, which CNN published on Monday. On Tuesday, CNN reported that Eastman claimed that document was a "preliminary" version and published a six-page version dated January 3 that the lawyer had provided.
That longer version lays out a series of "alternatives" using the Trump campaign's false claims of widespread voter fraud and "illegal actions by state and local election officials" during the election as a pretext for Pence and congressional Republicans to throw out electors from as many as seven states that President Joe Biden won. His argument was legally preposterous, but dangerous ambiguities in federal law left the election vulnerable if Republicans were willing to act.
"BOLD, Certainly," Eastman comments in the memo after laying out the plot. "But this Election was Stolen by a strategic Democrat plan to systematically flout existing election laws for partisan advantage; we're no longer playing by Queensbury Rules, therefore."
That's the president's lawyer rationalizing a scheme to steal the election on his client's behalf.
The story has been widely covered on CNN and MSNBC. But the broadcast evening and morning news shows -- which generally have larger audiences, particularly in the evenings -- have ignored it. As of posting time, the memo has not been mentioned on CBS Evening News or CBS Mornings, on NBC's Nightly News or Today, or on ABC's World News Tonight or Good Morning America, according to a Media Matters review.
In fact, the only national network broadcasts to mention Trump's coup memo were the late-night variety shows hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, and Seth Meyers.
Eastman's memo was part of an extensive effort by Trump, his lawyers, and his supporters in the right-wing media and in the Republican Party to delegitimize and reverse the results of the 2020 election. That scheme culminated on January 6, when a violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, convinced that the election had been stolen but that some version of Eastman's plan could be carried out to keep Trump in office. That evening, with the Capitol not yet secure, Eastman denounced Pence for refusing to carry out the plot.
Trump's coup failed. But that was not inevitable. And Trump's supporters have spent the months since laying the groundwork for future success. Such a stratagem requires political operatives and lawyers willing to concoct abstruse pretexts and legal arguments; media propagandists willing to trumpet them; a party base primed to disbelief unfavorable election results; and party officials willing to participate in -- or at least quietly go along with -- the theft.
And it requires one more thing -- a national press that looks the other way.
Media Matters searched transcripts in the Kinectiq video database for all original programming on broadcast news affiliates for ABC, CBS, Fox Broadcasting Co., and NBC in all local U.S. media markets for the term "Eastman" within close proximity of any of the terms "Trump," "memo," "Pence," or "constitution" or the term "Trump" within close proximity of the term "lawyer" from September 20 through 22, 2021.
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