Not only does Fox News continue to propagate all of the conspiracies and mistruths about COVID-19 vaccines, masks, and the terrorist attack on Jan. 6, but now we learn that during former President Donald Trump’s reign of terror, Fox’s Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, and Jeanine Pirro, to name a few, were on the Oval Office’s speed dial.
According to reporting by The Washington Post, former Trump Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham gave up all the goods on the access Fox News hosts had to the ex-president.
“There were times the president would come down the next morning and say, ‘Well, Sean thinks we should do this,’ or, ‘Judge Jeanine thinks we should do this,’” Grisham told the Post, referring to Hannity and Pirro.
In an interview on CNN’s New Day, Grisham said: "Sean Hannity, I have got to say, he was like a shadow adviser.”
Fox’s “cable cabinet” (as the Post refers to them) advised Trump on White House strategy and his own personal messaging.
“A lot of it was PR — what he should be saying and how he should be saying it; he should be going harder against wearing masks or whatever,” Grisham told the Post, “And they all have different opinions, too.”
Alyssa Farah Griffin, Trump’s former communications director, said that the Fox crew could change Trump’s mind on a dime.
Michael Pillsbury, an informal Trump adviser, told the Post he began to understand the power of Fox after the emergence of Sidney Powell, an attorney who had appeared on Dobbs’ show. Powell would be a notorious mouthpiece of unfounded 2020 election bullshit, and the ex-president seemed to buy it hook, line, and sinker.
“It taught me the power of the young producers at Fox, and Fox Business especially,” Pillsbury says. “These young producers who are in their mid-20s. They come out of the conservative movement, they‘ve never been in the government. They are presented with these reckless, fantastical accounts. And they believe them and put them on for ratings.”
On Jan. 6, Laura Ingraham, Brian Kilmeade, and Hannity all texted Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, in the hopes of getting him to intervene during the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol.
“Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home,” Ingraham wrote, per the Post. “This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.” Kilmeade urged Meadows to get Trump “on TV” and stop the terrorists. And Hannity begged Meadows to demand Trump “make a statement” and “ask people to leave the Capitol.”
But this time Trump didn’t listen to his Fox cabal of anchors. It took him over three hours to speak, and even then it was one of his most historically flaccid responses.
Hannity tried to sway Trump into not to mentioning his failed attempt in 2020, but as we know, Trump continued to vomit his baseless lies about a rigged election.
In the end, Trump’s staff just worked to stay ahead of the coercion Trump was getting from the Fox hosts and at the same time used the channel to promote its agenda.
Jeff Cohen, of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media, tells the Post that between the texts sent to Meadows on Jan 6., which he calls a “smoking gun,” and its ongoing sick symbiotic relationship with Trump, Fox is “violating the public’s trust.”
“Journalists and media are supposed to be public checks on power, not private advisers to power,” Cohen said. “A commentator is still a journalist, and even if the commentator doesn’t consider him or herself to be a journalist, they still have to tell the public when they played a role in something they’re commenting on.”
And if you’re wondering where the idea of hydroxychloroquine came from, look no further than Ingraham, who went to the White House for a private meeting with Trump to talk up the ineffective COVID-19 treatment, the Post reports.