About Fox News: Just Facts, No Rhetoric

As a writer, I love language, the challenge of putting ideas into words. To find just the right words to convey something.

Hyperbole is extreme language. The last seven years have presented escalating challenges to putting a proper cast upon events. I kept writing, “It will get worse.” A stone rolling downhill gathers momentum — until hitting rock bottom. Are we there yet?

Some recent stuff renders my rhetorical toolbox inadequate. So I’m giving up. Rather than try to find words to characterize them, I’ll limit myself here to relating only facts, leaving judgments to readers. (Of course in today’s America, even the word “facts” is problematic.)

Start with the fact (yes, fact) that Trump lost the 2020 election. A humiliation his psyche couldn’t tolerate, causing him to declare it a stolen election. Launching a whole mass movement of election denial, albeit lacking a shred of evidence. (Not a single Biden ballot was ever proven fraudulent.)

Fox News (I will use that name, though readers may question the “News” appellation) broadcast relentless false “stolen election” assertions. One was that Dominion Voting Systems’ machines changed votes from Trump to Biden. Dominion sued Fox for libel.

That lawsuit brought forth texts of messages exchanged among top Fox TV talkers, including Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Tucker Carlson, saying they knew the whole “stolen election” thing was a lie, even while they were loudly telling viewers the opposite. They even jeered at Trump lackeys pushing the lie; Hannity said Trump was acting insanely. While one Carlson message demanded the firing of a Foxite who was out of sync with the party line. Fearing that if Fox relented in spouting it, they’d lose viewers to more extreme right-wing channels (like Newsmax and OAN; Fox had already enraged its viewers for reporting, on election night, the fact that Biden had carried Arizona).

Revelation of the aforesaid exchanges among Fox commentators, showing them as liars, was a big, widely reported news story. But never mentioned (to my knowledge) on Fox itself. Nor has Fox reported on court testimony by its owner, Rupert Murdoch, acknowledging the falsity of its coverage, and calling Trump’s “stolen election” lie “terrible stuff damaging everybody.”

Tourists visiting the Capitol

Meanwhile, Trump was working to overthrow the vote and retain power. Culminating in the January 6 violent attack on the Capitol by his supporters (revved up by the “stolen election” lie Fox had helped promote). Many people were injured and several killed, including police officers. The aim was to stop Congress from certifying the election result. (A majority of Republicans in Congress then did vote against certification.)

A bipartisan effort to set up a Congressional committee to shed light on what happened was ultimately torpedoed by the House Republican leadership, under Kevin McCarthy, refusing to participate. A committee was nevertheless convened, to which Speaker Pelosi appointed two Republicans, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. Cheney in particular took a leading role, spotlighting Trump’s attempt to overthrow the election with lies and his culpability for January 6 (all attested by mostly Republican witnesses). The committee’s investigation and report meticulously documented what was indeed insurrectionary mob violence. Which we’d all watched on TV while it was happening.

Yet Trump Republicans have sought to whitewash January 6 and discredit the committee’s narrative as itself somehow a big lie; Fox’s Carlson leading in that effort.

Notwithstanding all the foregoing, voters saw fit to give Republicans a majority in the House of Representatives, and McCarthy became speaker. That position enabled him to hand Carlson exclusive access to over 40,000 hours of government January 6 video footage. No other news organization was allowed to have that. (Oops, I should not have said “other.”)

Carlson has proceeded to broadcast a few carefully selected snippets from those 40,000+ hours so as to portray a calm, peaceful episode, and thusly to denounce the January 6 committee’s work as a dishonest effort to mislead the public and falsely smear Republicans. A “scam,” Representative Elise Stefanik now calls the committee’s report. Trump has tweeted that Carlson did a “great job.”

Meantime a new tranche of private Carlson messages brought out in the Dominion case includes the line, “I hate him passionately.” Referring to Trump.

Last Tuesday I got a mass email from “patriotsforvictory.com” headed “January 6th was a lie.” It starts, “Tucker Carlson just revealed that everything you were told about January 6th was a LIE.” And goes on: “Liz Cheney and the Hate America Deep State used January 6th to paint every Trump loving conservative as an enemy of the state . . . but now every single lie she’s told is being EXPOSED. Liz Cheney needs to pay for what she did to this country.”

The recipient is asked to vote in a poll: “Should Liz Cheney be held criminally responsible for LYING about January 6th?” Adding, “Liz Cheney is laughing at every patriot who ignores this message.”

The fine print reveals it came from Ronny Jackson, a Republican Texas Congressman who was Trump’s White House physician. A similar message arrived from Harriet Hageman, the Wyoming Representative who defeated Cheney, saying Cheney and other committee members (her emphasis) “presented SELECTED CLIPS, like we all knew from the beginning, to tell the story they wanted to tell. Never worrying about the facts. But like always, the truth prevails.”

This post reports only facts. As stated, I will not even attempt to comment.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: