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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Screenshot from Fox News

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox News' hypocrisy is on full display in its outraged coverage of President Joe Biden's announcement yesterday that large businesses would now be required to have their workers either be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing for COVID-19 — something that Fox News has already been doing for months.

Previously, the network had attacked Biden for instituting a similar policy for the federal workforce. But it was also first reported two months ago that Fox News has used an internal program called the "Fox Clear Pass," in which employees who provide their proof of vaccination could bypass daily health screenings — a policy that stands in stark contrast to the network's relentless fearmongering about vaccine passports. And three weeks ago, Fox employees were further required to upload their vaccination status into a human resources database.

Meanwhile, the network's content has relentlessly undermined vaccination efforts, celebrated people who refuse to take the vaccines, and even encouraged the use of counterfeit vaccination cards — all acts that Fox's own human resources department would likely frown upon.

Biden announced in his speech Thursday that over 175 million Americans are now fully protected by the vaccine, "Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated, even though the vaccine is safe, effective, and free." He also noted that his policy lined up with what a certain company has been doing for its own workforce.

"Some of the biggest companies are already requiring this," Biden said. "United Airlines, Disney, Tysons Foods, and even Fox News."

But faced with the choice of either acknowledging that fact, or stirring up the fringe who continue to refuse safe, effective vaccines and even the most basic public health measures, Fox News has chosen the latter.

On Thursday night's edition of Fox News Primetime, rotating host Rachel Campos-Duffy bemoaned that Americans have been compliant for too long, and asked Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich whether Americans would start to "fight back" against these requirements. Neither of the two commentators acknowledged that they work for a network that has already been practicing these rules, which they have both presumably been "compliant" with in one manner or another.

RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY (HOST): Katie, I've just been really surprised throughout this pandemic of how compliant Americans have been, especially young people. How do we fight back? What is going to be the final straw before Americans say enough is enough?

KATIE PAVLICH (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think a lot of Americans are fighting back and saying enough is enough.

On a side note, Pavlich then claimed that the U.S. Postal Service union was exempted from the new rule — seemingly based on a false report and a misunderstanding of the legal nature of the USPS workforce — claiming this as evidence to declare that "we do know that people are fighting back."

And on Tucker Carlson Tonight guest host Jesse Watters spoke with former Trump campaign legal adviser Harmeet Dhillon, who said that she already had "multiple clients" asking to file a legal challenge to the regulations once they were formally issued. (The two also discussed the supposed "carveout" for postal workers.)

The two went on to say that this policy would be impossible for companies' human resources departments to actually administer. But then again, any such company that actually does find this task difficult could just ask Fox News for advice.

JESSE WATTERS (GUEST HOST): And I think if you can listen closely, you can hear every HR department in the country go hit the liquor cabinet after this, because it's going to be -- it's going to get rowdy in the workplace.

HARMEET DHILLON (FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN LEGAL ADVISER): It's that bad, and I'm an employer.

WATTERS: Yes.

DHILLON: It is going to be impossible to administer this and who are the police going to be policing it? And who is going to pay the cost of it? It is effectively a tax on the American employer, and I think it's not going to fly, frankly.

WATTERS: I would agree.

Fox host Sean Hannity also protested Biden's announcement that "scolded we, the American people," and "vilified the unvaccinated," adding: "Joe, you cancelled all medical freedom today with your broad edict and your mandates, one-size-fits-all medicine. You eliminated medical privacy. You eliminated all doctor-patient confidentiality" — in which case Hannity ought to also speak to his own company's HR department.

And on The Ingraham Angle, Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway compared the vaccine and testing mandates to "fascism," and said it would "require everybody to stand up and resist and fight." (Still no word on whether Hemingway plans to stop going on Fox News, for its own role in having practiced these exact policies even before the "fascist" government order came down to everybody else.)

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY (THE FEDERALIST): It's just amazing that for four years, every time there was a mean tweet we were told that it was fascism come to America. And then you actually have the government ordering corporations what to do, telling individuals what to do, and the same people who were hysterical for the last four years don't seem to notice what's happening. This is a tremendous assault on American constitutional governance. It's going to require everybody to stand up and resist and fight. But we can't count on anyone in the media because they believe their job is to support one political party over its political opponents and they will paper over all these things that just a few years ago they would have thought horrific and unacceptable of any president.

This blatant lack of self-awareness continued into the morning. Introducing a news update on Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy said that Biden's order "could put jobs on the line for millions of hard-working Americans who will not have a choice."

Fox News correspondent Mark Meredith also attempted to turn this into a political gotcha moment, in line with the network's efforts to scaepgoat undocumented immigrants for COVID-19 infections despite a total lack of validity.

"Some people were noting that in the speech last night, there was no mention of requiring migrants crossing into the U.S. to get the jab," Meredith said — though one could suppose that this problem would be solved if any of them were to apply for jobs at Fox News.

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Former President Donald Trump, left, and former White House counsel Pat Cipollone

On Wednesday evening the House Select Committee investigating the Trump coup plot issued a subpoena to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, following blockbuster testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who said the lawyer had warned of potential criminal activity by former President Donald Trump and his aides.

The committee summons to Cipollone followed long negotiations over his possible appearance and increasing pressure on him to come forward as Hutchinson did. Committee members expect the former counsel’s testimony to advance their investigation, owing to his knowledge of the former president's actions before, during and after the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Keep reading... Show less

Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

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