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The Reason for Fox News
Contemplating an Elixir for the Damned
*Author’s note: As a rule, I do not comment on show-business cable new outlets, but once the song-and-dance elbows its way into national news, it becomes fodder for commentary here. Thus…
First Amendment Crisis in Florida
There was a time when Fox News offered an ideological slant on “the news” that differed from CNN, MSNBC, and network news organizations. Not sure when it went from conservative-leaning option to completely off the rails as a shameless propaganda machine, but it did. Specifically, over the past two years it has transformed into a right-wing bullhorn that serves one purpose, to placate the guilt of conspiracy theorists, domestic terrorists, bigots, and the generally frightened. Of course, not everyone who watches Fox News is a domestic terrorist or a bigot, mind you, but they are frightened, either by real or imagined bogeymen, and the network is absolutely their propulsion and forgiveness chamber. Riling up the audience and then using bizarre rationalization for anti-social behavior and general disdain for democracy, it has managed to survive burgeoning competition from even more demented outlets that popped up during the dark times of the Donald J. Trump presidency, which simmered the scum to the top of the boiling pot that is America.
I’ll explain with two key events that are currently ongoing at Fox News.
The first is a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit brought against the concern by Dominion Voting Systems. After Trump was roundly defeated in November of 2020, he did what he hinted at in 2016 during the Republican primaries, a general election he actually won, and the ramp-up to the 2020 presidential election, he claimed if he lost the system was rigged. The severe beating he took, something he does not believe can exist in the off-kilter world devised in his spoiled rich-kid head, broke him. He found enough anti-American voices and a clearly dementia-addled Rudy Giuliani to pitch the idea that not only was the entire election, run across fifty states – most of them Republican run – rigged by the opposing party, this sham was assisted by the voting machines. Many of these machines were owned by Dominion. They suddenly became the specific target of Trump and his sycophants’ fantasy show. The trouble is Dominion counts on integrity to exist as a business, and when it is not just called into question but accused of deliberately being involved in a bloodless coup d'é tat, it had to retaliate.
The suit has gone to trial and depositions from Fox News hosts, who perpetuated this nonsense, were released to the public in which all of its hosts, Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Laura Ingram, and most importantly for the rest of his piece, Tucker Carlson admitted to outright lying to support Trump’s anti-humiliation defense mechanism. Tucker, the station’s leader in ratings, as did the others, knew the entire thing was a crazy kneejerk fallacy, yet continued to vehemently whip up the kind of frenzy that placates its audience that believed, as they were told for months, Trump would win, and as Trump kept assuring them, easily. This is despite Fox News and every other poll conducted for six months of the campaign predicting candidate and now President Joe Biden would win by a comfortable margin of four to six points. If anything, the final results defied these prognostications in Trump’s favor. But these are mathematical absolutes, which doesn’t jibe with fantasy. Fox News stuck with the latter and will likely pay a hefty price for it.
So, as everyone had known for some time, except Fox News on-air personalities that called it left-wing attacks, the entire operation was full of shit. Every one of the hosts told authorities they thought Trump was nuts and they were shocked and dismayed by the entire thing, including the ensuing January 6 insurrection on the Capitol that occurred when Trump and his allies called to Washington D.C. the worst element of the bigot-terrorist-frightened brigade. In the face of all of this historic lunacy, they continued to pitch election fraud that failed to emerge in dozens of investigations, lawsuits and recounts. They openly described in these depositions to repeatedly lying to their own audience for ratings, for money, for fame. That they weren’t a news organization at all, but an entertainment entity. Come on, the rabbit doesn’t live in the hat. It’s all for fun. And, by the way, I do not begrudge any of this. That’s showbiz, folks! It just proves the musings of my opening paragraph: Fox News merely exists as an elixir to coddle the deranged.
Then comes this week’s shenanigans by the aforementioned Tucker Carlson, aided by Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, who was forced to promise the darkest corners of his party he’d provide mayhem if he were to procure the votes to secure that position.
The mayhem began when McCarthy took hundreds of hours of footage of terrorists violently sacking the Capitol and handed over to Carlson for his dog-pony-show. The only possible reason for Carlson to then go on the air and manipulate the footage (pro-terrorist propaganda?) to dilute the crimes (overtly and on camera live) committed against the United States was to make those who felt shame and disgust by this, much of it echoed by lawmakers like McCarthy that day and for days afterwards, much needed cover. Until Carlson went to the airwaves this past week, there was only weird rationalizations for this horror show that left five police officers and two civilians dead, many present having been badly injured, and now hundreds arrested. But the idea that it never happened was never seriously broached. Now in the tradition of Holocaust deniers, flat-earth proponents, right-wing denials of climate change, and the sudden movement on the right to wipe out the moral outrage of this country’s systemic treatment of African Americans, the events of January 6 did not occur. So therefore, none of it was a crime. Thus, nobody should go to jail. If anything, it was a fine day ruined by left-wing extremists trying to turn everyone not agreeing with them into outlaws. It was rigged. Like the election. The election Tucker Carlson said was rigged, even though he knew it wasn’t, lied anyway, and then copped to lying under oath.
I cannot think, beyond the ratings and money angle (always a good angle, explaining the existence of reality shows), why Tucker Carlson would do such a thing if the agenda wasn’t condoning January 6. It makes no sense. Historically, he is now an accomplice-after-the-fact of one of the worst events in modern American history. Granted, this once moderate commentator, who got his start bloviating on liberal-leaning PBS and MSNBC and kick-started the career of much-hated by the right, Rachel Maddow, was given the task of taking over the prime Bill O’Reilly spot at Fox News and knew what he needed to do to keep and grow this audience. He needed to become an avatar for bigotry and anti-American rhetoric. For cash.
Funnily enough, there are ample clips all over YouTube of Carlson previously excoriating O’Reilly for the very thing he does routinely every evening for the same reason. Carlson, having admitted to lying for a living, is a cheap carnival barker. What he does is nothing more than a geek biting the head off a chicken for a sixpence. But in the social order of the day, he is accomplishing a key element, washing away the sins of the guilty with one fell swoop, like a Catholic priest. Go now and sin no more.
Fox News had never been a serious news organization. It was built by a notorious Republican operative to game the system. Its genesis was silly and continued down the silly path, like, to be frank, most things on cable television. But the Dominion defamation suit and this week’s January 6 revisionist history showcase underlines its existence now is to make those who watch it feel emboldened and not anti-American for questioning the nation’s right to vote, its promise of civil rights, and the rule of law. But ultimately, they are no different than the radicals they used to fear and mock from the 1960s. But as long as Fox News tells them it is okay to act like wild animals when elections don’t go your way, and that looting, assault and murder are perfectly fine, because, you know, it didn’t happen at all, then… whew… they’re not crazy terrorist-sponsoring bigots paralyzed by fear. Hell, they’re true Americans.
As one president once said without retribution, “Mission Accomplished.”
© James Campion 3.10.23
email: realitycheck at jamescampion.com
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James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of “Deep Tank Jersey”, “Fear No Art”, “Trailing Jesus”, "Midnight For Cinderella" and “Y”. +, “Shout It Out Loud – The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon” + “Accidently Like a Martyr – The Tortured Art of Warren Zevon” and published on June 1st, 2022, “Take a Sad Song…The Emotional Currency of “Hey Jude".
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