Column By John Young
Let’s check out the outrage on Fox News this week.
What is it? “Woke” candy morsels? Death panels for natural gas stoves? Cheeseburgers snatched from the mouths of babes?
No outrage: a tidal wave of death from maniacs bearing military-style weapons.
No outrage: a planet reeling from drought, sea-level rise, and extreme weather — and death.
And of course, no outrage: the scandal of an ousted president now facing several criminal probes and his multipronged effort to negate the election he lost.
Understand, this wasn’t just another fib by an untrustworthy politician. This one caused blood to flow down the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
This one caused the arrest and conviction of hundreds.
This one could result in the indictment and conviction of he who started it all.
And it could result in a $1.6 billion anvil on the head of Rupert Murdoch and his lying-for-ratings cable treasure.
The Trump era has so conditioned us to actions unbelievable, unforgivable, and unimaginable that what Fox News has done barely registers in the morning news digest.
But it’s the biggest broadcasting scandal ever.
The ‘50s quiz show scandal? It resulted in congressional hearings. But no democracy teetered when a hyper-popular game show fed answers to a contestant on a roll.
In today’s TV scandal, viewers were fed lies that have caused millions to distrust our elections. We know now these lies were dismissed privately by the very people giving them currency: Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and assorted sworn Trump mouthpieces.
Here’s Carlson on Trump in an inter-office email: “A demonic force. A destroyer.” That’s some character reference.
Fox News shares every bit as much responsibility as Trump for the bloodshed and destruction of Jan. 6, 2021. And Trump’s role was criminal.
It is telling that Fox News reportedly refused to allow Trump time on air on Jan. 6 to spout his claims. Too inflammatory, thought Murdoch. Too late, Rupert.
Throughout Trump’s presidency, Fox News was feeding him his lines and reinforcing his lies, a loop of deceit and corruption.
Now we know from emails revealed in the suit by Dominion Voting Systems that Fox News wasn’t even trying to ascertain the truth. It was only ascertaining what Trump supporters wanted to hear — and delivering.
Robert Stirewalt once was Fox News’ election data expert. That is until he was fired for telling the truth. He made the call that Joe Biden had won Arizona.
Stirewalt called the whole “stolen election” matter “a cynical, knowing effort by political operatives and their hype men in the media to steal an election or get rich trying.”
Fox News lied, and people died.
But this isn’t the first time the home of GOP propaganda has had the blood of innocents on its hands.
Fox News was just as complicit when serving as the chief on-air drum-beater behind another big lie — the one that sent military forces into Iraq, the “WMDs” lie, the “mushroom cloud” lie, the “greeted as liberators” lie.
“We report. You decide,” implies reportorial detachment. Not even close. Fox News has been conjoined to the Republican Party since birth.
It essentially birthed the Tea Party, while portraying it as an organic movement, not a made-by-Fox production. On-air figures were hosting rallies rather than reporting on them.
Now when most Americans call for action to stem the toll of firearm deaths, Fox hands the megaphone to gun lobby stooges like Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, who recently voiced dismay that Americans own “only” 46 percent of the world’s guns. “We need to get our numbers up.” Such glibness as Americans die and bullets fly.
Just as millions of Americans wish deeply that Trump will be held accountable for what he did, so should they hope that Fox News pays the price for its joint culpability on varied fronts.
Fortunately, this band of polished and well-paid hucksters did not facilitate the fall of our republic. They just tried very hard.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email him at email@example.com.
The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author.