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

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

President Donald Trump recognizes that Fox News' purpose is to help elect Republicans, and he is dissatisfied with the right-wing network's strategy for accomplishing that goal.

Trump lashed out Thursday after something he saw while watching his favorite network during his flight to Michigan apparently upset him. On Twitter, he criticized Fox for "doing nothing to help Republicans, and me, get re-elected on November 3rd," particularly criticizing the network for hosting Democratic strategists and anchors who "repeat the worst of the Democrat speaking points, and lies."





Trump is obsessed with Fox, watching hours of its largely sycophantic coverage each day and regularly taking advice from its pro-Trump hosts. But he also at times expresses distress that the network's coverage of him is not pure North Korea-style hagiography.

His latest salvo, however, goes somewhat further.

Trump's remarks demonstrate that he sees Fox not as a news channel, but as a propaganda network devoted to the electoral success of the Republican Party, himself very much included.

He's largely correct about that -- and Fox's viewership is based on that pro-Trump, pro-Republican slant.

But Fox's business model also depends on advertisers and cable providers treating it as a legitimate news source like any other.

Trump's complaints -- that the network interviews Democratic strategists and features anchors like Neil Cavuto who occasionally criticize the Trump administration -- are crucial to preserving that illusion.

Trump is pitting the two halves of the network's business model against each other. If its executives respond by making the network even more supportive, they are risking flight from advertisers and cable providers concerned with being too closely associated with the president. If they don't, they are risking outlets like OAN, which has little interest in pretending to be a real news outlet, peeling off their viewers.

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Riley June Williams in the Capitol, left, and in police mugshot

Earlier this week, as part of his campaign to gaslight the public about the Capitol insurrection, Tucker Carlson tried to claim on his Fox News program that "there's no evidence white supremacists were responsible for what happened on January 6. That's a lie." Of course, the claim was immediately debunked, but that hasn't prevented Republicans from continuing to lie and mislead the public into believing up is down about the event and its meaning, and for online trolls to continue repeating Carlson's claim.

Multiple examples abound to prove Carlson a baldfaced liar, but the most striking was revealed this week: An investigation by Bellingcat's Robert Evans found that Riley Williams, the 22-year-old woman from Pennsylvania who faces multiple charges in the Capitol siege and is suspected of having stolen Nancy Pelosi's laptop, is the same person who posed in neo-Nazi gear in an online video and made Nazi salutes, all while posting on social media as a white nationalist "Groyper" and participating in a popular neo-Nazi Telegram channel.

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