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The end of Donald Trump’s presidency may have simultaneously marked the end of Fox News’ tyrannical reign over conservative media. Here’s why.
Throughout the last four years, Fox News has allowed itself to be puppeted by former President Donald Trump to push his lofty conspiracy theories and right-wing jargon into the forefront of mainstream media.
During the 2020 election cycle, Fox was particularly vocal about phrases which Trump loved to push on Twitter, such as “voter fraud” and “fake news.” The entire media outlet seemed to serve as a regurgitation of his sentiments until election night, when Fox News shockingly called the state of Arizona for Joe Biden ahead of any other major news outlet.
The call enraged Trump and his loyal supporters as it directly disputed what President Joe Biden and other news outlets have referred to as the “Big Lie narrative” — Donald Trump’s repetition of the same fictitious statement regarding his potential, then subsequent loss, referenced for months prior to election night all the way until the bitter end of his presidency: voter fraud.
Timothy Snyder serves as the Levin Professor of History at Yale, and publishes studies on subjects such as Hitler, Stalin, tyranny and authoritarianism. “There are lies that, if you believe in them, rearrange everything,” he stated in an interview with NPR regarding Trump’s major election lies, “…And a big lie is a lie which is big enough that it tears the fabric of reality.”
The term “big lie” has heavy implications, and was attributed to Trump’s inability to admit defeat by none other than President Joe Biden, two days after the Capitol Hill attack. “I think the American public has a real good, clear look at who they are,” Biden said in an address to reporters. “They’re part of the big lie, the big lie.”
Former President Trump was able to tear the fabric of reality through an excessive use of his two favorite weapons: Twitter and Fox News. Before his Twitter account was recently deactivated, Trump was consistently outspoken on his social media. But as his unfounded claims began to invade mainstream media, fiction began to be presented as fact. For Trump’s supporters, the outcome was obvious: blind belief of the President’s wild claims and accusations, no doubt because of the far reach of his assertions.
The dissemination of misinformation by individuals such as Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham directly led to the events which took place on Capitol Hill, and the subsequent radicalization of the Republican party.
During the Capitol Hill riots, Fox News was presented with a timely opportunity to finally speak out against the violence, hate speech and obvious injustice that members of their political party were engaging in. Rather than doing so, Fox chose to revert back to their previous not-so-hidden agenda: airing unfounded claims about the 2020 election and advocating for the supposed innocence of the Capitol Hill rioters.
During coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests that swept the nation this past summer, Fox hosts condemned any violent outbursts by protestors, claiming that BLM as an organization was “poison.” While discussing the Capitol Hill riots, Fox hosts seemed much more forgiving of the violence, stating that they were “kind of solid Americans” and excused their violence by claiming that it was fueled by “frustration.”
Although she initially attempted to blame Antifa for the riots, even conservative radio host Tomi Lahren spoke out against the violence on Caption Hill, stating to her millions of followers “this is not who we are” and refers to rioters as “anarchist animals.”
This isn’t the first time Fox News has been under fire for not playing fair. On Oct. 12, 2020, Fox finally settled a case in which the network had repeatedly (and knowingly) spread a false claim that murdered Democratic National Committee Staff member, Seth Rich, who was involved in the leaking of D.N.C. emails during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Fox was required to pay millions of dollars to Rich’s family, and only made the decision to settle the lawsuit under the precedence that the settlement was kept under wraps for a month — until after the election on November 3rd.
“The unusual arrangement underscores how deeply entwined Fox has become in the Trump camp’s disinformation efforts and the dangerous paranoia they set off, culminating in the fatal attack on the Capitol 11 days ago,” wrote Ben Smith of the New York Times, regarding the lawsuit.
Fox News has backslid to their usual focus: making excuses for extremist Republicans and justifying President Trump’s lies. As a massively popular media outlet with a worldwide reach, Fox News should be held to a higher standard— the first standard being that blatant and obvious lies regarding crucial political issues aren’t acceptable for a media conglomerate with White House Credentials.
“Fox News isn’t a newsgathering organization,” said press critic Eric Borhlert, who went on to remark that Fox’s White House Credentials should be revoked.
A democracy cannot thrive alongside the existence of an organization which seems to undermine truth and fairness at every turn— two key pillars of journalistic integrity.
Fox News dropped their original motto, “Fair and Balanced,” about a year into Trump’s Presidency. Coincidence, or direct correlation? The answer seems evident in Fox’s actions.
The reign of Fox News has come to an end. Now that former President Trump isn’t around to save the organization, a history of crumbling credibility and blatant dishonesty is finally brimming to the surface.