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Trump’s Departure Drives Fox News Deeper Into Fever Swamps

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox News spent the last four years remaking itself as President Donald Trump's personal propaganda tool. Until the very end, it was a remarkably effective strategy: The network's audience swelled to record heights while its hosts achieved unprecedented influence as personal advisers to the Fox-obsessed president. But Trump's reelection defeat -- and his subsequent turn against Fox for acknowledging it -- has left the network in a precarious position at the dawn of Joe Biden's presidency, scrambling to recapture lost viewers and build a new identity without its key audience in the White House.

Trump's feud with Fox has the right-wing network facing real competition for the first time in years. The network lost its decades-long dominance of the cable news ratings war as viewers answered the president's call for his supporters to switch to its fringe-right rivals, Newsmax TV and the One America News Network, or tuned out from cable news altogether. Pro-Trump outlets that once accepted Fox's primacy in right-wing media are now trying to grab market share by positioning themselves against it. And mainstream commentators on the center-left and center-right are denouncing Fox's election fraud lies and calling for corporate action to stymie its reach.

This conflict will shape the right-wing media ecosystem and the Republican Party during the Biden administration. And the network's likely strategy to regain its edge can already be seen in its post-election decisions.

Fox's 2020 coverage helped stymie the response to a pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans to date and triggered an insurrection in which pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol. What comes next will be worse. In response to sagging ratings, network executives are taking steps to increase Fox's reliance on incendiary right-wing propaganda, while weakening the internal faction that had at least a nominal commitment to reality.

The result will be a race to the bottom of the fever swamp, as Fox competes with its rivals for viewers by promoting ever-more-unhinged conspiracy theories and using increasingly apocalyptic rhetoric that encourages more violent insurrections. And that irresponsible behavior will court a backlash from the corporate interests that make the network's bigotry and lies a profitable endeavor.

Fox's Faltering Business Model

Fox has a two-track business model. The network attracts its audience with right-wing demagoguery. But it monetizes those viewers through payments from advertisers and cable carriers.

Those companies are rightfully uneasy about associating their brands with the network's worst excesses, and advertisers have largely abandoned its most controversial properties. Fox executives traditionally keep them from dropping the network entirely by highlighting their "news" hours, which they claim are independent and credible, while occasionally cutting tieswith low-level commentators when their inflammatory rhetoric draws too much attention.

Trump made that strategy untenable by denying the network its "news"-side fig leaf.

The president watched Fox's programming constantly and lashed out whenever he saw the "news" side producing coverage he considered insufficiently supportive. He raged against the network in November after its decision desk declared first that Biden had won Arizona and then that he was the president-elect. And over the following weeks he increasingly consumed, touted, and promoted programming from Newsmax and OAN, which refused to acknowledge Biden's win, bolstering their ratings at Fox's expense.

Fox executives had two potential pathways in the wake of Trump's defeat, each with perils to its business model. They could try to reinforce the "news" side and compete for current CNN and MSNBC viewers by producing credible journalism, even if it cost them with the network's traditional right-wing audience. Or they could double down on the right-wing propaganda of the "opinion" side in hopes of winning back pro-Trump viewers, but risk an advertiser revolt.

Every public move since Election Day suggests that they prefer the latter strategy. They are rewarding the "opinion" side for its years-long effort to lie to its audience in support of Trump, while purging the "news" side of individuals who tried to keep viewers at least somewhat tethered to reality.

Fox "opinion" hosts spent the weeks furiously promoting internet conspiracy theories about voter fraud costing the president the election. That full-throated endorsement of feverish nonsense got the network into potential legal trouble, triggered embarrassing on-air corrections, and led to the violent pro-Trump insurrection of January 6. Those same commentators responded to the storming of the Capitol by validating the rioters' concerns and repeating the lies that incited the mob.

Meanwhile, the network's executives broke their tacit agreement to use Fox's "news" programming to protect blue-chip advertisers from their right-wing ideologues. Fox's purportedly independent "news" hours began featuring clips from the "opinion" hosts, promoting their prime-time shows, and running ads in which they cast doubt on the election results.

A staffing shakeup reportedly ordered by Rupert Murdoch is now underway. Fox is cannibalizingone of the network's highest-profile "news" shows in favor of another hour of right-wing commentary. The potential "opinion" hosts receiving tryouts in that time slot include Brian Kilmeade and Maria Bartiromo, both fanatically loyal Trumpists who pushed absurd conspiracy theories about election machines flipping votes from Trump to Biden.

As it promotes its "opinion" hosts, Fox is conducting what insiders describe as a "purge" of the network's "real journalists." The layoffs are reportedly masterminded by former Sean Hannity executive producer Porter Berry, who oversees the network's digital operation, as part of Fox's "larger effort to pivot its website from straight-news reporting to right-wing opinion content in the mold of Fox's primetime programming." Political editor Chris Stirewalt is the highest-profile victim -- an apparent casualty of Trump's war on Fox's decision desk -- while senior vice president Bill Sammon is retiring; both were longtime members of the "news" side.

In the months to come, this ratings pressure from the right will continue sending Fox down fringe-right rabbit holes. And its programming, in turn, will influence the way the Republican Party responds to the post-Trump era.

Fox's Choice Will Shape Right-Wing Media -- And The GOP

Fox has always mimicked the attributes of the leading elements of the era's Republican Party. It was founded by former Nixon adviser Roger Ailes as a pro-GOP network to push back on what conservatives saw as a hostile, liberal press, and it both shapes and reflects the party it supports. Fox was a jingoistic, pro-war network during the Bush administration; rebranded as an anti-tax, anti-spending, tea party-booster after President Barack Obama's election; and morphed into a state TV outlet under Trump.

The network's executives would likely prefer to move on from Trump and pivot back to its Obama-era brand, becoming the "voice of opposition" to the incoming Biden administration. The network could focus its programming on smearing Biden officials, conjuring up Biden pseudo-scandals, stalling or blocking Democratic proposals, and bolstering anti-Biden political movements and Republican challengers. That was a unifying message for the right in 2009 that garnered huge ratings for the network. And Republican leaders would doubtless appreciate new Benghazis and "death panels" as cudgels to use against the incoming Democratic administration.

At the same time, Fox's on-air talent will come under tremendous pressure to rebuild its once-record audience. The clearest path to that goal will be to give the recalcitrant Trumpist viewers what they want: more lies that Trump actually won, more unhinged conspiracy theories about Democrats, more paranoid fantasies about the left, and more apocalyptic culture war rage. That will incentivize the rest of the right-wing media to do the same, in hopes of either snagging guest appearances on the network or pulling away some of its market share.

And with Trump refusing to cede the stage, the network may be unable to cut him loose. Fox could face constant loyalty tests from Trump to keep him as the network's main character, which competitors like OAN, Newsmax, and others would eagerly exploit in order to build their audiences.

The result could be that Fox, and the Republican Party it shapes, remain firmly planted in an alternate reality and functioning as Trump's state TV outlet and personality cult. Indeed, the network's propagandists are already trying to purge the party of leaders it views as insufficiently loyal to Trump.

This reckless strategy could win back Fox's faltering viewership. But it also poses serious risks for the network's business model. It sends a clear message to the network's advertisers and the cable providers that carry it that Fox is unwilling to reform from within, that it will only get more dangerous, and that it is no longer willing or able to provide them with cover. That puts the onus squarely on Fox's corporate enablers to stop rewarding the network for its dangerous behavior.

Fox Isn’t Even Pretending To Be A ‘News Channel’ Now

Fox News faced a stark choice in light of President Donald Trump's defeat and the January 6 storming of the Capitol that followed his -- and the network's -- constant lies about election fraud costing him the election.

Fox could have committed itself to journalistic principles, enhanced the influence of its "news" side, and competed for viewers with CNN and MSNBC by offering conservative-leaning but reality-based programming. Instead, its executives have sided with its rabidly pro-Trump "opinion" side, signaling that it intends to compete with fringe-right Newsmax and One America News Network by doubling down on the inflammatory propaganda and conspiracy theories that incited its viewers over the last four years, culminating in January 6's attempted coup by pro-Trump rioters.

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Fox News Justifies Riotous Mob, Ensuring They Will Strike Again

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

"If you don't bother to pause and learn a single thing from it, from your citizens storming your Capitol building, then you're a fool," Fox News prime-time star Tucker Carlson said Wednesday night.

While his comments were a typical bad-faith jab at elites, he's absolutely right. But there's been no soul-searching on his network after violent insurrectionists tried to prevent the U.S. Congress from confirming President-Elect Joe Biden's victory over President Donald Trump, no on-air consideration of the role Carlson and his colleagues played in inciting that mob.

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The Fox News Coup Turns Ultra-Violent

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

As I write this, the U.S. Capitol has been breached by a riotous mob of President Donald Trump's supporters who are bent on preventing the peaceful transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden. The House of Representative and the Senate, whose members had convened in their separate chambers after some Republicans objected to the counting of Arizona's electoral votes, are locked down, while Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding, has left the area. Insurrectionists continue to stream into the building. It's unclear when or how the legislators will be able to proceed with their constitutional duty.

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Culpable For Thousands Of Deaths, Fox News Is ‘Misinformer Of The Year'


Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

In 2019, the United States government ran a simulation of a global influenza pandemic. A draft report on the effort, published earlier this year by The New York Times, pointed to a host of flaws in the simulated response that now appear prescient as the country continues to grapple with the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. But one crucial element appears missing: No one contemplated that a major national news source would try to stymie the response -- or that the outlet could convince the president to take its side against the government's public health experts.

That's what Fox News did this year. The right-wing network has promoted coronavirus misinformation an estimated 13,551 times on its weekday programs over the course of the pandemic. And its lies had a deadly impact.

President Donald Trump spends much of each day watching and tweeting along with Fox. The network, long a uniquely destructive force in American political life, reinvented itself as his personal propaganda outlet over the course of his presidency. The Fox obsession shapes Trump's worldview, provides him with his most trusted advisers, encourages his worst impulses, and in 2020 thus far triggered at least 475 live tweets of Fox News and its sister network, Fox Business. Once a curiosity that served to explain his most bizarre tweets, this insidious Trump-Fox feedback loop came to set the course of our nation's politics.

And this year, the country has suffered the consequences of Fox's unrivaled influence on the president and federal government. The feedback loop fueled Trump's disastrous handling of a pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 300,000 Americans to date. It stoked bigotry and violence amid a national reckoning on racism and police brutality as the network's typically abhorrent treatment of Black Americans turned uglier than ever. And as the year came to a close, the feedback loop was powering Trump's attempt to overthrow the election, shaking our political system to its foundations.

For the first time, Media Matters is naming Fox News its Misinformer of the Year for 2020. While we have previously given that title to specific Fox leaders and employees, it has never gone to the network as a whole. But never before have its personalities and executives had the blood of this many Americans on their hands.

The Virus


Fox spent 2020 recklessly minimizing the pandemic as it took the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans. It's impossible to calculate how many might still be alive if the network had treated the coronavirus as a real threat to the health of its viewers and the general public rather than a political obstacle for its beloved president.

The network's viewers desperately needed credible information about the threat posed by the virus in late February and early March, as public officials sounded alarms about its first wave spreading across the country. Instead, they got propaganda.

Fox painted the virus as a minor problem, no more dangerous than the flu, and claimed that Democrats and journalists arguing otherwise were ginning up fears to damage Trump politically. Those raising concerns, the network's hosts told their audiences, were simply trying to "bludgeon Trump with this new hoax" in "another attempt to impeach the president."

How Fox News lied about the pandemic www.youtube.com

Fox briefly took the coronavirus somewhat more seriously after Trump declared a national emergency to slow its spread. But on April 7 -- around the time it became clear that the virus's victims were disproportionately Black and brown -- the network's prime-time hosts effectively declared victory, arguing that public health experts had exaggerated the danger it posed and giving their predominantly white viewers license to ignore the measures designed to curb it.

The U.S. outbreak was still in its early days, with only a tiny fraction of the current total of coronavirus cases and deaths recorded. But Fox's pivot to demands for ending public health restrictions and reopening the economy had already begun. The network's commentators never looked back for the rest of the year, undeterred by overflowing hospitals and soaring death totals as they preached the need to preserve businesses rather than people.

It's difficult to imagine what prime-time stars Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham might have done differently if they were deliberately trying to get as many Americans killed as possible. The hosts and the assemblage of kooks and cranks they brought on for supposed expertise used their massive platforms to wage a nightly, systematic assault against virtually every measure that public health officials supported.

They denounced social distancing, masks, quarantines, and increased testing as ineffective and dictatorial, while praising both the purportedly miraculous properties of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which studies show is ineffective against the coronavirus, and the less-restrictive response of Sweden, which ultimately failed. They baselessly claimed at first that the coronavirus death toll had been inflated, and eventually stopped mentioning those figures altogether. They embraced protests against stay-at-home orders, valorized small business owners who flouted coronavirus restrictions, and denounced credible experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci. Over a single week in July, their shows combined to push misinformation about the virus at least 83 times.

But while those hosts stand out, the entire network has been complicit in its campaign of deception, with the network's purported "straight news" shows often hammering the samemisinformation as its "opinion" programming.


How Fox News dismissed the pandemic's death toll www.youtube.com

As the year came to a close, the U.S. daily death toll from COVID-19 had crested 3,000, a horrific rate that the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said could continue for two to three months. Fox, meanwhile, was hiding that staggering death toll from its viewers while encouraging them to violate coronavirus restrictions and gather together for the holidays.

This coverage had an impact. Fox's viewers consistently told pollsters they were less worried about the virus than did people who got their news elsewhere, triggering fears among party leaders that the network's programming was endangering the lives of the GOP base. And because of the nature of infectious disease, Fox viewers who did not change their behavior because they were convinced the virus was overblown also endangered those around them.

But Fox's unique hold on the president's attention, and his eagerness to seek out advice on how to handle a deadly pandemic from its personalities, pushed the impact of its coronavirus coverage far beyond its own audience.

Trump didn't just live-tweet Fox coronavirus coverage at least 89 times, or parrot the network's most unhinged coronavirus conspiracy theories, though he did do that. He ensured that the federal government's response would track the complaints, obsessions, and blind spots of its right-wing ideologues. The network's fingerprints are everywhere, from the lax attention paid to the virus during its early spread, when Fox was telling Trump it wasn't a problem; to the stockpiling of unproven and ineffective drugs; to Trump's unwillingness to serve as a positive example by wearing a mask and forswearing heavily attended indoor events; to his refusal to provide desperately needed funds to state and local governments.

Most dangerous of all, Fox's promotion of Dr. Scott Atlas, a radiologist and right-wing think-tanker with a contrarian take on the pandemic, attracted Trump's attention. Trump liked that Atlas told him what he wanted to hear -- that the virus was no big deal and he was handling it brilliantly -- so he gave him a position on the White House coronavirus task force. From that post, Atlas increased his power and reportedly called for deliberately allowing the virus to spread in order to reach "herd immunity." By the time he left office on December 1, the nation had completely lost control of the pandemic. A few weeks later, the day's death toll exceeded that of the 9/11 terror attacks.

The failure of Fox's pandemic strategy was predictable -- and indeed, Fox's executives knew better than to try to implement it for their own employees. Even as the on-air talent urged a premature return to normalcy, the network largely shuttered its offices and told its employees to wear masks.

But those executives refused to take responsibility for the network's output. During the spring, facing public outrage over Fox's pandemic disinformation, they parted ways with a handful of low-level employees who had made particularly egregious claims. But Fox stars who had produced virtually identical commentary avoided accountability and continued to lie to their viewers and downplay the pandemic.

For Fox, mass death was simply the cost of doing business.


The Protests

As Americans joined nationwide protests against racial injustice following the police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd this year, Fox's response was vicious and divisive. The network painted Black activists seeking an end to police brutality as violent terrorists endangering the lives of its viewers and civilization itself, while Fox celebrated white, right-wing vigilantes as heroes, the true victims of law enforcement.


The network's coverage revolved around terrorizing its audience by fixating on instances of rioting, arson, looting, and property damage, at times citing hoaxes or other misinformation. Carlson in particular lashed out at the "thugs" of the Black Lives Matter movement and its supporters. The moment, he claimed at one point, "is definitely not about Black lives. And remember that when they come for you." "Vigilante justice," he suggested, might be needed against demonstrators in the streets. And when that inevitably came to pass, with lethal consequences, he praised its perpetrator.


Tucker Carlson's racist attacks on Black Lives Matter in 2020 www.youtube.com

Fox traditionally tolerates, and even rewards, on-air bigotry. But its coverage of the protests was so horrific that its Black employees reportedly began confronting executives. One staffer even told a reporter that executives "created a white supremacist cell inside the top cable network in America, the one that directly influences the president."

And indeed, the president was watching the network's coverage of the protests, live-tweeting its programming at least 58 times, and taking action in response. Trump stokedracial tensions, abandoned bipartisan police reform legislation and ordered federal law enforcement deployed to U.S. cities, put Carlson's demagogic message at the center of his campaign, and echoed Carlson's talking points by making the racist appeal to white suburbanites that Biden wanted to destroy their hometowns by importing low-income people.

The result was more indiscriminate violence, as law enforcement attacked protestors and reporters with impunity, cheered on by the president and his propagandists.

The Coup

As this piece was written, Trump was still seeking to overturn the results of a free and fair election because he lost. Even as his lawyers have been laughed out of court for alleging nonexistent election fraud, he continues to denounce the results as rigged and seek to toss out millions of votes and have himself declared the victor. For all intents and purposes, he's attempting a coup in broad daylight -- and his Fox propagandists are eager accomplices to his would-be authoritarian power grab.


No one can say they didn't see this coming. Since the spring, Trump has been promoting Fox's warnings of inevitable election fraud as the network laid the groundwork for him to steal a close election. Unfortunately for the plan, Biden won in a relative landslide, with his victory confirmed by Fox itself.


Much attention has been paid to Trump's rage at Fox after its decision desk called first Arizona and then the election for Biden. But the network's "news" and "opinion" sides both trumpeted his baseless fraud allegations in the days following his defeat, with stars like Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, and Maria Bartiromo gleefully aiding the president's cynical effort to subvert the vote and usher in the end of American democracy.


Fox cast doubt on or pushed conspiracy theories about the election results nearly 600 timesover the nine days after the network declared Biden had won, and that treatment has not abated since. Trump himself has repeatedly promoted the network's election fraud lies on social media, apparently after watching his favorite shows. Indeed, dating back to the spring, he sent at least 89 live tweets calling the election's legitimacy into question in response to Fox programming.


Fox in denial of 2020 election results www.youtube.com


The result is that Fox's audience doesn't believe Biden actually won, while the network is responding to criticism by promoting increasingly unhinged lies about the election in order to tell its viewers that Trump's victory is imminent. The results could prove catastrophic, sending the nation into the abyss.

The Crisis

When historians look back at 2020 in the decades to come, it will likely also be remembered as yet another year in which the U.S. did not act to stop the climate crisis.

Fox's routine promotion of climate science denial was identified as a key obstacle to preventing change more than a decade ago. The increasing urgency of the impending calamity -- and the network's stranglehold on the president's attention span -- has only made its intransigence more critical.

In 2020, as massive wildfires stoked by the changing climate raged across the Australian interior and American west, Fox responded by ignoring, downplaying, and denying the situation. Trump, in turn, continued to contradict science and refuse to act, as the threat grew.

The Misinformer

Fox's misinformation had a direct impact on the lives of every single American this year, whether they watched the network or not. Its propagandists helped wreck the response to a deadly pandemic that killed hundreds of thousands of Americans, tried to drown a movement for justice out of racism and fear, and, as the year came to a close, waged an assault on America's democracy.

This year was a low point in the network's shameful history, and none of its employees should ever live it down. They betrayed their viewers and endangered their fellow Americans because they wanted to protect the president and preserve their position as his state TV outlet of choice.

Fox News is 2020's Misinformer of the Year.

Right-Wing Media Figures Still Refuse To Admit Biden Won

The new era of competition between Fox News and its would-be rivals, Newsmax and One America News Network, appears to be fueling an unwillingness by commentators at all three networks to accurately describe Joe Biden as the president-elect, even after the Electoral College met this week.

Since losing the election, President Donald Trump has increasingly trained his criticism on Fox News. He has ranted that his personal propaganda outlet has proven insufficiently supportive of his illegitimate effort to overturn the results based on phony voter fraud claims, urging his supporters to instead watch Newsmax or OAN. Fox has aggressively course-corrected in hopes of maintaining its audience, while the smaller networks have lashed out at the dominant player in hopes of ripping away more of its viewers.

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The Staggering Human Cost Of Trump’s Scott Atlas Debacle

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Dr. Scott Atlas resigned from his post on the White House's coronavirus task force on Monday, ending an experiment in governance by Fox News that has caused skyrocketing COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, with even darker weeks ahead.

Atlas' appointment in August represented the purest example of the disastrous impact of the feedback loop between President Donald Trump and Fox's propaganda. An unqualified ideologue launched to power because the president liked his Fox hits, under his guidance Trump oversaw a predictable and horrifying surge in the virus that repeatedly reached the White House itself.

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How A 'Disinformation Bubble’ Enables The Trumpist Coup Plot

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

President Donald Trump and his supporters are actively working to overturn the results of the election he lost to President-elect Joe Biden in order to keep him in power. Their despicable plot revolves around disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of Americans, in large part voters of color, on the grounds that their ballots were fraudulent. Their claims have been thoroughly demolished in legal proceedings finding no evidence that widespread fraud took place, because it did not. Top federal, state, and local officials have said that there were no election security problems, and the president's legal team at times has acknowledged in court that no fraud took place.

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Fox Will Still Control Republicans, Despite Trump’s Anger

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

The first Fox News president will serve only one term. But President Donald Trump's defeat at the hands of President-elect Joe Biden was close enough to show there might be a second one.

Fox had more influence over Trump than any news outlet has ever had over any president, with its former contributors filling the ranks of his administration, key hosts serving as a shadow cabinet of advisers, and major policy decisions rising and falling based on the whims of its commentators and bookers. And so the network bears partial responsibility for his failure to win reelection. "Fox dragged Trump to this point," as The Washington Post's Greg Sargent put it.

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Fox Propagandists And GOP Leaders Pushing Nation Toward The Abyss

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Key Republican leaders are collaborating with Fox News' propagandists to further inflame their party's base, standing behind President Donald Trump's lies that the election is being stolen from him through widespread voter fraud as the ballot count edges Democratic nominee Joe Biden closer to victory.

Fox's prime-time programming on Wednesday was a vile slurry of innuendo and conspiracy theories, as the network's hosts parroted viral social media lies to their audience of millions in an effort to delegitimize the election results. Thursday night's shows, which followed Trump's deranged and lie-filled performance before the White House press corps, were even more unhinged and reckless. The hosts promoted nonsensical and unverified claims of voter fraud and cast doubt on the legitimacy of the results, floating as remedies a "do-over" election in Pennsylvania and Republican state legislators ignoring the results in favor of Trump.

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To Save Trump, Fox News Urges Voiding Hundreds Of Thousands Of Votes

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

With the presidential election still up in the air as ballots continue to be counted in key states, President Donald Trump and his propagandists at Fox News are seeking to reduce confidence in the election tallies in order to build a case to toss out Democratic ballots and steal the election.

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Fox News Plays Key Role In Trump’s Plan To Steal Election

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

With Election Day looming, the expert consensus is that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is in a strong position, with President Donald Trump needing to catch a number of breaks to win. But Fox News' propagandists are making it sound like the president is the odds-on favorite, priming their audience to attribute any defeat to Democratic fraud.

Fox's effort is a necessary -- if not sufficient -- step toward enacting Trump's openly touted plan to try to steal the election (if it is close enough to do so) by preventing the counting of ballots legally cast for Biden. And even if the network fails to keep Trump in the White House, its reckless disinformation could raise tensions to feverish heights, potentially leading to political violence.

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Murdoch Pushes Final Desperate Attempt To Smear Joe Biden

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

With President Donald Trump's reelection hopes seemingly fading, Fox News star Tucker Carlson made an 11th hour push on Tuesday night to try to will him to victory. He devoted his entire program to an interview with Tony Bobulinski, a former business partner of Hunter Biden, in the latest dubious salvo of an extensive campaign by Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch' media outlets to tarnish Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden via his son's business interests.

Carlson's interview had been heavily touted by Trump's allies, and the Fox host presented it on Tuesday as a devastating bombshell for Joe Biden. The reality is more mundane.

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Trump (And Fox) Revert To Blaming ’The Media’ For His Woes

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Toward the end of their broadcasts Monday, two of President Donald Trump's favorite shows converged on one of his favorite topics: his purported mistreatment by the very nasty and unfair press which supposedly prefers Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Trump booster Maria Bartiromo responded to clips of commentators at other networks highlighting Trump's failed response to the novel coronavirus pandemic by complaining about the "constant, nonstop criticism of this president by the media." She went on to praise Trump's handling of the virus, in an interview simulcast on Fox News' Fox & Friends and Fox Business's Mornings with Maria. Trump instantly chimed in, tweeting that he was the victim of a "Fake News media conspiracy" in which journalists were exaggerating the danger posed by the virus to damage him politically.

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The 2020 'October Surprise’ Is The Virus Surging

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Every election cycle, political journalists and observers wait in anticipation for the "October Surprise" -- the unexpected news event that has the potential to shake up the race. In 2016, it was FBI Director James Comey's announcement of a new development in the investigation of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state, driving negative coverage that cost her the election. Four years later, President Donald Trump and his media and congressional allies have been trying to recreate that magic to boost his reelection odds against former Vice President Joe Biden.

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Giuliani Is Failing To Manipulate The Press — So Far

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

If you blinked, you might have missed the turn in the national spotlight of Tony Bobulinski, a disgruntled former business partner of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden. Bobulinski's claims of corruption by Joe Biden were promoted by President Donald Trump and his campaign, then debunked within hours. But the affair shows why journalists should be wary of the information control strategy that Trump's allies are using to smear the former vice president through his son's business interests.

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Fox News Tells Trump To Fire FBI Director — And He’s Listening

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

President Donald Trump's Fox News propagandists have been urging him for months to fire FBI Director Christopher Wray because they consider him insufficiently willing to pursue their conspiracy theories in order to boost Trump's political standing. In recent days, they've seized upon Wray's handling of the smear stories of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden in calling for his removal.

Their commentary is having an impact on their most powerful viewer. Trump has long held an authoritarian view of the federal law enforcement apparatus, treating it as an arm of his personal and political desires. Disappointed that Wray has proved unwilling to help his reelection campaign by publicly announcing an investigation into the Bidens, the president now reportedly wants to replace the FBI director.

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