How a key component of the US's Mainstream media became a national security threat
Amidst all of the internal bickering and the international tension that has characterized recent months, the act of 'normalizing nonsense', of nullifying the impact and import of news items as they break, to the point that they lose their relevance has resulted in some startling public pronouncements being essentially ignored.
One such item was the finding, released jointly but separately from the US Congress's House Judiciary Committee as part of the impeachment charges against the incumbent President, Donald J. Trump, and in the US Justice Department's Inspector General's report in to the FBI's handling of its investigation into the aforementioned individual's election campaign, that Fox News now poses a threat to the national security of the United States.
Whilst the former focused on the so-called 'Ukraine Perfect Call' where the President attempted to extort the President of a foreign power to look for information for him to use against a domestic political opponent (namely Joe Biden as a potential candidate in the 2020 General Election in the USA), the latter related to the FBI's investigation into the dealings of the Trump campaign with various Russia related or connected parties and attempts by same to influence the electoral outcome (presumably to gain leverage for Russia in the post election Trump-led administration).
The results were unequivocal to most external observers. However, these were obscured or hidden from large sections of the US population (well those that watch news coverage) by Fox News which has a substantial following of heavily Trump/Republican leaning viewers, sometimes characterized in broad terms as the 'Base', the 30% of eligible voters who went for Trump in 2016 and have shown little desire to abandon him or re-evaluate their perception of him.
Fox routinely devotes large swathes of its news coverage and current affairs programming to pretty blatantly mis-portraying the actual contents of the various reports that have come forth from the various (and growing) investigations into the conduct and behaviour of P45 from before and since his inauguration..
On the night back in December when the IG's report dropped, one of Fox News's leading lights, and to an outsider, a somewhat embarrassingly Trumpian sycophant, Sean Hannity stated "Everything we said, everything we reported, everything we told you was dead-on-center accurate. It is all there in black and white, it's all there." only it wasn't!
In fact, the mere fact that the IG found no political bias in the FBI's investigation of Trump and Russia in 2016 was de facto proof of the power of the 'deep state' according to Lou Dobbs on Fox Business. So basically, even if you accepted the report's findings at face value, permission was provided for these to be disregarded by the viewer due to some sort of master conspiracy.
Many political commentators in the US, including many on the 'Right', are seriously concerned about the state of discourse and argument given the fashion in which mainstream media are being manipulated for the commercial and political agendas of their owners and those they support. John Harwood, one of Washington's most respected conservative voices, summed up Fox's approach as "Lunacy" but this is potentially damaging lunacy of a seriously worrying and calculated fashion.
The alternate reality constructed and portrayed by Fox News makes it difficult, if not impossible, to have the reasoned and measured political discussions necessary for a healthy, vibrant and functioning democracy. 'Alternative facts', in the infamous words of White House spokesperson, Kellyann Conway, conveniently obscure the truth. Narratives that run in parallel and competition to generally reported (and accepted) global news are recited and refined, often in open conjunction with the President, White House and surrogates (see the evolution of the justification for the killing of Iranian General Soliemani). The sense of 'righteous indignation' and 'taking the moral high ground' promoted by Fox fundamentally challenges any notion of a level playing field or recognition of a 'fair' debate and contest.
And all the while, Russia, China and others look on with barely concealed glee as the USA spins itself into a Foxhole of it's own apparent volition especially as the Presidential elections approach,
Fox News is forcing its viewers to question the notion of political opposition. 'Every Democrat is evil and every person who disagrees with President Trump is an enemy of the state.' Writer Gabe Sherman, who authored a history of Fox News, commented recently that "For 20+ years Fox News (and rightwing talk radio) has told GOP voters that Democrats are evil. As lawless as Trump is, Republicans believe Dems are worse. That's the power of propaganda." while Daniel Patrick Moynihan proclaimed that "everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts." Fox effectively pronounces that there is but one correct opinion and it is that of the incumbent, P45.
The truly scary aspect of all of the above has been the apparent ease with which it has been exported to neighbouring, and supposedly mature, Western democracies...the UK with it's own 'Britain Trump' (P45's words, not mine) and his Brexit shitshow replete with alternative facts, bare-faced lies and disparaging narratives is sad but clear evidence of that, which I, as a Brit abroad deeply regret!
Commenting on another country's politics is never easy but when it affects those outwith that country in a serious and palpable fashion then I think the line has been crossed and all bets are off...Fox with their constant climate denial and questioning of scientifically determined empirical evidence are doing that right now.
Please...they need to be stopped...for all our sakes! But you don't need to take my word for this, ask the US House of Representatives or the US DoJ's Inspector General (amongst many, many others!). For further background on Fox News's decendancy, watch 'The Loudest Voice'.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessary those of the publication.