It has now been well reported that executives including Rupert Murdoch himself and his star “talent” on FOX knew that Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was stolen were outright lies. While this article is labeled as an opinion piece, those are facts exposed in a court filing by Dominion Voting Systems in their defamation suit against FOX.
The implications of these facts are still percolating through people’s minds. And these implications have potentially devastating—for FOX at least—future effects.
There is a principle in espionage that when a covert agent is exposed or is outed as a liar he is as good as dead. His credibility is gone and he’s really of no use to anyone. The same concept can be applied to the propagandist whose lies are now seen as just so much rotten confetti.
To anyone with even rudimentary analytical ability, FOX’s “reporting” on the 2020 election results—despite the fact that they were the first network to call it for Biden—has been the stuff of nightmares harking back to the days of Josef Goebbels and Leni Riefenstahl. That is a comparison not made lightly. But since FOX contributed directly to Trump’s attempted coup, and his effort to shove the country over into a fascist dictatorship, the parallel is not off base.
FOX Knew, From the Top Down
The on-air propagandists at FOX—one can no longer call these people reporters or journalists—stoked the anger of Trump’s base for ratings. Let that sink in a moment. FOX’s viewership numbers were threatened by their own truthful reporting that Biden had won Arizona. Facts, which should be the only currency of any news organization, so angered some of their viewers that they decided to abandon the facts and “give the viewers what they wanted.”
Some of FOX’s on-air personalities went on to excuse their behavior by describing themselves as entertainers. Sean Hannity was quoted as saying, “I’m not a journalist, I’m a talk show host.” These kind of silly dodges certainly have not worked well for another propagandist, Alex Jones, who now coincidentally owes about $1.5 billion in judgements against him.
The First Amendment gives wide protection to the press. Indeed, the Fourth Estate, as traditional journalistic practice is known, performs an invaluable function in our country of examining facts and faithfully reporting on them. The press can be and has in the past been the conscience of the nation with regard to abuses of power, corruption and civil rights, to name a few.
A 1969 decision the Supreme Court established what is called the Brandenberg Test to determine whether specific speech is protected under the First Amendment. It consists of two parts.
- The speech is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action,” AND
- The speech is “likely to incite or produce such action.”
The forwarding and amplification of Trump’s “Big Lie” by FOX and other far-right propaganda outlets fits both parts of this test. And as we know now, on January 6th, people died because of it, not to mention those who were injured and the hundreds now on trial, and more that will be.
FOX not only abandoned facts for ratings—and their attendant revenue—they have blood on their hands because of their actions.
Whatever motive is really in the driving seat at FOX, the label of Yellow Journalism certainly applies. And this really is opinion now, the old quote from Hearst can be laid at the feet of Murdoch and his well-paid mouthpieces, “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.” They certainly did help furnish an attempted coup.
Meanwhile, not one of these people at FOX has changed their tune despite being completely outed as the liars and frauds that they are. And this raises an enormous number of questions…
Marty Kassowitz is co-founder of Factkeepers. As founder of Interest Factory and View360, he brings more than 30 years experience in effective online communications, social media management, and platform development to the site. He is a writer, designer, editor and long time observer of the ill-logic demonstrated by too many members of the species known as Mankind. After a long history of somewhat private commentary on a subject he totally hates: politics, Marty was encouraged to build this site and put up his own analyses as well as curate relevant content from other sources.