Among the many, many blows Fox "News" is taking as the lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems reveals all the twisted little details about how the network actually operates, one of the most consequential might be the revelation that, as expected, the "straight news" side of Fox can only go so as far with their "straight news" as the Murdochs and the network's propaganda hosts want them to go.
If you're a "straight news" reporter working for Fox, reporting news that's damaging to the Republican Party—or damaging to the egos of opinion bigshots like Sean Hannity—has a good chance of getting you fired. It's yet another clear demonstration of the Republican-backing propaganda network using their "straight news" team as a front for the network heads' real goals, and those goals are "boost Republican Party rhetoric, even if you have to lie to do it."
The Daily Beast posted a report last week premised mostly on how Fox News journalists were very, very sad right now, what with the exposure of internal messages that publicly revealed just how much influence the network's high-paid opinion hosts have in controlling the network's news coverage. While it's truly tragic that people who have chosen careers inside a company that has been known for misleading viewers through its entire existence, it's not clear whether the greater emotional damage is being done here by a news-side realization of just how much power the opinion side of things has really been exerting over their coverage or, instead, because the public leak of those messages has completely leveled their own claims of plausible deniability here.
There's probably a great many of these producers who tell their families and friends that no, it doesn't matter how much Fox News lies to its viewers or what hoaxes might get spread on the network's opinion programs, that's all separate from the "news" side of the business, and on the news side of the business they're immune to such shenanigans. Now that the whole world knows that that excuse just isn't true, network employees aren't going to be able to use it to convince their non-work friends of their upstanding moral values.
Sure, journalists might try to distance themselves from an opinion host-pushed hoax meant on undermining United States democracy in service of a raging orange-hued toddler that would rather keep power through violence than retire to his rotten Florida country club circles, but it doesn't mean much when Tucker Carlson retaliates against you doing it by demanding that you be fired. And it means even less when network heads are themselves peeved that your accurate reporting of news is going to cost them viewers—and blaming you for that problem, rather than the opinion hosts who've turned your network's viewers into mush-brained zombies who can't handle news stories that don't rigorously adhere to their own personal beliefs and conspiracy theories.
Y'all can quit if you want, Fox News employees, but you can't hide behind claims that your coverage isn't being slanted according to what Republicans want to say and to hear. Of course it is, and now the lawsuit that resulted from one of those Republican-pushed hoaxes has exposed the actual memos and text messages that show just how it works.
The Daily Beast reports that Fox White House correspondent Kristin Fisher was specifically targeted for debunking false information spread by Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell in their infamous Nov. 19, 2020 press conference. Giuliani and Powell spewed a stream of claims questioning the legitimacy of the election and suggesting, without evidence, that Trump had somehow been defrauded.
"So much of what he said was simply not true or has already been thrown out in court," reported Fisher. The claims were indeed false, Fisher went on to describe why the claims were false, and doing so earned her a reprimand from her "straight news" boss, who told her she "needed to do a better job" of "respecting our audience."
Which audience? The one that wants to believe Rudy Giuliani conspiracy bullshit, of course. How dare a network journalist remind viewers that Trump's personal hoax machine is, in fact, telling lies.
The other biggest reveals center around Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, the network's most powerful opinion hosts, and their inside-the-company insistence that the news division toe their opinion lines. Tucker and Hannity both demanded the company fire Fox reporter Jacqui Heinrich for fact-checking a Trump tweet.
"It needs to stop immediately, like tonight. It’s measurably hurting the company. The stock price is down. Not a joke," Tucker messaged Hannity.
When the election didn't go Donald Trump's way, in fact, both Rupert Murdoch and the opinion side of Fox began raging at the news side of the network in general. NPR brings us that part of the story.
"I hate our Decision Desk people!" Rupert Murdoch wrote after the network called the state of Arizona for Joe Biden.
How much of Fox News' declining ratings were due to "anger at the news channel," network loudmouth Laura Ingraham privately fumed to Carlson and Hannity. "My anger at the news channel is pronounced."
Carlson agreed. "We devote our lives to building an audience and they let Chris Wallace and Leland fucking Vittert wreck it." And the group decided to take action, with Ingraham noting that "We have more power than we know or exercise."
It's hard to imagine them exercising more power than demanding specific reporters being fired for pointing out which of their boosted conspiracy theories were clearly false, but they tried. Fisher's appearances on the network began to shrink afterwards as the "news" division heads worked to implement Murdoch and the opinion side's demands that the Republican anti-election hoaxes go unchallenged. Fox CEO Suzanne Scott was furious with Fisher's debunking, and told network executive editor Jay Wallace that "I can't keep defending these reporters who don't understand our viewers and how to handle stories."
The network's heads, talking and otherwise, were all on the same page. Each of them cited the curated dimwittedness of their viewers as the reason the news division could not simply go on television and explain that entirely faked Republican claims of fraud were not true. That coverage would harm their ratings, and the opinion side of Fox are quite certain the network only has a news division thanks to their own loudmouth efforts to angry up their viewers' blood.
That was that, then. If Republicans wanted to spread false conspiracy claims to discredit American democracy and justify the nullification of an American election, the Fox "news" division's employees were to report the falseness of those claims at their own peril.
And that is how Fox News executives fomented disinformation that would quickly bloom into a violent attempted coup spearheaded by Donald Trump, one justified by the hoaxes that Fox executives warned their journalists against debunking.
Fox News made itself a tool of the seditious conspiracy, and from Rupert Murdoch to Tucker Carlson to Sean Hannity to Suzanne Scott, each of the network's top figures demanded it be done for the sake of goosing their ratings.
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Leave Tucker Carlson alone