The parasitic relationship between right-wing Republicans and Fox News has been well documented for most of the network’s existence. Few people were fooled by their original tagline (which they have since abandoned) that declared the network “fair and balanced.” The partnership of an ultra-conservative Australian media mogul (Rupert Murdoch) and a Republican media consultant (Roger Ailes) was enough to paint a clear picture of the political bias built into the operation.
Nevertheless, it is still worthwhile to make note of significant confirmations of Fox’s deceitful intentions, especially when it comes from within the organization itself. That’s what happened when Jeremy Barr of the Hollywood Reporter published emails that were acquired by a non-profit group through the Freedom of Information Act. The correspondence shows just how tightly integrated Fox News is with Donald Trump and his administration. The network was caught red-handed doing the bidding of the White House and its executive branch departments.
“A trove of Treasury Department emails released to the non-profit organization Democracy Forward and provided exclusively to The Hollywood Reporter this week paint a picture of a close, friendly bond between the Trump administration agency and two news organizations, Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network.”The 270 pages of email correspondence were obtained as part of a Freedom of Information Act request and detail conversations that took place in 2017 and 2018.”
Among the brazenly inappropriate interactions were several that occurred between Fox News anchor David Asman and Treasury Department spokesman Tony Sayegh, who is also a former Fox News contributor. Asman actually gave Sayegh policy advice prior to Trump’s massive tax scam reform. “Take the BIG TAX CUTS NOW,” Asman suggested, “a long-term deal with small cuts is useless.” A few days later Asman told Sayegh that the network would be airing a segment on Trump’s tax policies and promised Sayegh that “You’ll like it.”
On another occasion, Treasury aide Jason Chung contacted Fox to ask that they make changes to a Fox Business Network article. The author of the article was only too happy to comply, responding
“Jason, I just did exactly what you asked me to do.” And last year emails were uncovered that show that Fox News allowed the White House to approve a script for a segment with Scott Pruitt, the Director of the Environmental Protection Agency at the time. That was such an egregious breach of journalistic ethics that Fox even addressed it, but only with a vague statement that they had “disciplined the employees involved.”
The marriage of Trump’s White House and Fox News is as strong as ever. They share numerous personnel who have worked for both entities. Fox can always be counted on to savagely malign Trump’s critics and political foes. And Trump-fluffers like Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Tucker Carlson, and Lou Dobbs can be depended on for endless epistles of adoration. These and other network shills will predictably rise to defend Trump no matter how repulsive his words or deeds, as demonstrated by how they turned baby cages into summer camps. On Thursday Fox was the only cable news network to air Trump’s New Hampshire cult rally live. We can expect that sort of special treatment to continue, while any bad news for Trump (and there has been a lot lately) is suppressed.
Fox is even muzzling reports of its own poll that showed Trump disapproval at a near-record high. The poll also showed that all four of the Democratic candidates tested in the poll (Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Harris) beat Trump in 2020 matchups. Trump never even broke forty percent. The poll’s respondents gave a much higher favorability rating to the Democratic Party (51/45) than the Republican Party (41/54), which they rated as significantly unfavorable. And in a searing rebuke of Trump’s assessment of his own ability to unite the nation, 59 percent of voters said that he is “tearing the country apart.” No wonder Fox News isn’t giving much airtime to these poll results. And again, this is their own poll.
We can expect this sort of deliberate disinformation to persist throughout the upcoming presidential election cycle. Fox News will bury anything they deem to be negative for Trump while lashing out viciously – and dishonestly – at Democrats and what they regard as their “fake” news competitors. They will continue to collude with Trump to produce flattering coverage of him and the state of the union, even if the nation plunges into recession, which seems increasingly likely. In fact, they will collude with anyone who seeks the same rightist objectives as they do. So as Trump said in the 2016 election: “Russia, are you listening?”