Ladies and gentlemen, I have an announcement to make. From this point forward, I will no longer utter the phrase FOX News. Instead, I will remove the “News” moniker and simply refer to that puppet show of fake journalism as FOX. After the revelations this past week from the Dominion voting machines trial, I think it fair to say that FOX should never be referred to as “news” ever again. I mean, we have all laughed at the almost deliberately ironic tagline of “Fair and balanced” for decades now, but the whoppers that have been exposed in this trial far exceed that. This is harebrained propaganda for the dim-witted. This is duping the blind masses into doing your evil bidding, leading them to an ill-informed, botched insurrection of our Capitol. This is the attempt to undermine or overturn the very Democratic principles that are the bedrock of our society. So perhaps just removing “News” doesn’t go far enough. From now on, I’ll call them Fox Snooze.
In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, in which case, you likely are one of those sheep-like FOX Snooze viewers, Dominion Voting Machines is suing FOX for $1.6 billion for defamation after FOX repeatedly bolstered and supported the completely insane conspiracy theories that Dominion Voting Systems had conspired with the long-deceased corpse of Hugo Chavez and the DNC to rig voting machines in an effort to manipulate the results of the 2020 Presidential election. For months after the election, FOX willfully pressed completely debunked hypotheses about how the election was stolen. Turns out that Dominion did not take kindly to the notion of having their reputation and credibility dragged through the mud in an effort to overturn the election they helped successfully run. But in response to Dominion’s defamation suit, that accused FOX hosts like Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, and Tucker “Tans His Balls” Carlson of deliberately disseminating falsehoods about their company, the FOX folks just played stupid, suggesting that they had no idea that these bat shit conspiracy theories were false. Only problem is that their private text messages suggest quite the opposite.
Yes, turns out that all of them knew quite well that the nonsense they were spewing was complete and utter horseshit. Even though they repeatedly had Trump lawyer (a term I use very loosely here) Sydney Powell on their airwaves regularly and tacitly supported insane theories, Carlson texted about her, “Sidney Powell is lying by the way. I caught her. It’s insane.” To which Laura Ingraham responded, “Sidney is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy.” And yet Carlson knew their unsophisticated audience lapped this stuff up like a baby bird digesting it’s mom’s spoon-fed regurgitation, “Our viewers are good people and they believe it.” Even as his network was doubling down on every far right nut bag conspiracy theory pulled from the very edges of the dark web, FOX Chairman Rupert Murdoch was acknowledging that he knew Trump’s claims of election fraud were, “really crazy stuff”. FOX likes to shield itself from questions regarding their journalistic integrity by suggesting that these are just the opinions of their hosts, that these are not news programs, but entertainment. But this shows that FOX goes well beyond slanted opinions. These weren’t opinions. This was the deliberate dissemination of falsehoods for the purpose of undermining the democratic process itself. They all knew that what they were reporting was false, but they lied to the American people in order to further their own agenda.
Part of that agenda, of course, was to somehow overturn a rightful election by conspiring with Trump and his campaign to lead an insurrection that almost overthrew democracy itself. But part of that agenda was even more basic than that. Some of it just came down to ratings. In a text chain with Ingraham and Hannity, Carlson pointed to a tweet in which Fox reporter, Jacqui Heinrich, fact-checked a tweet from Trump referring to Fox broadcasts and said there was no evidence of voter fraud from Dominion. “Please get her fired,” Mr. Carlson said, “It needs to stop immediately, like tonight. It’s measurably hurting the company. The stock price is down. Not a joke.” Ms. Heinrich deleted her tweet by the next morning. At FOX, nobody wants facts. They want ratings. Fact-checking gets you fired.
So if you still watch FOX after hearing about all this, I am simply at a loss for what to say. You have become complicit in your own ignorance. But that’s just the problem- FOX viewers aren’t hearing about any of this. Locked up in their silo of misinformation, they have heard nothing about any of this lawsuit and the damaging evidence it has surfaced about the way FOX deliberately lies to and manipulates their audience. Let’s face it, there aren’t a whole lot of FOX viewers reading this column, and you sure as hell know FOX isn’t covering the story of their own malfeasance. So what stops FOX from doing this going forward? What motivation do they have to stop their propaganda machine and adhere to a standard of truth and accountability?
Well, the Dominion lawsuit is at least a step in the right direction, giving FOX 1.6 billion reasons to stop lying to its audience. But this case has legs because Dominion represents a private entity that has been tangibly harmed by the falsehoods intentionally spread by FOX. But most of FOX’s lies don’t impact a specific private party that can haul them into court for their slander. FOX has built an entire empire of misinformation, seizing on the opportunity Trump provided to make the truth seem relative. It all started with the “alternative facts” of Kellyanne Conway, but it has become the hallmark of the Republican agenda to simply alter the truth to whatever you want it to be. And as long as you have the captive audience of an organization like FOX, they’ll believe whatever you tell them to believe.
Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: In 1000 Words or Less every THURSDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com