Monday, July 02, 2018

How Fox News Became State TV-- Señor Trumpanzee’s Bullhorn


Starting with Teddy Roosevelt, normal presidents have made do with bully pulpits. ("Bully" at the time Roosevelt coined the phrase meant "super" or "wonderful," rather than someone who intimidates others like it has come to mean more recently.) Yesterday, in writing about how the GOP is slipping into fascism, we saw how Mussolini, who in his regular belligerent public speeches had referred to liberty as "a more or less putrid goddess" who needed to be eliminated and how he had already made sure that the newspapers were cowed into blind obedience before he transformed Italy's already weak and faltering democracy into a fascist dictatorship.

Trump has neither the command of the English language nor the intellect for a bully pulpit and his predilections are clearly more aligned with those of Mussolini than those of Teddy Roosevelt. Twitter is far more his style-- as well as Fox News. When Nancy Ohanian recently completed Last Supper Of The 2nd Year (below), Rupert Murdoch was very prominently featured. I had almost forgotten about him. Big mistake.

Sunday's NY Times included an essay by Michael Grynbaum, Fox News Once Gave Trump a Perch. Now It’s His Bullhorn. "In 2011," wrote Grynbaum, "Fox News announced that a new guest would appear weekly on Fox & Friends, its chummy morning show. 'Bold, brash, and never bashful,' a network ad declared. 'The Donald now makes his voice loud and clear, every Monday on Fox.' It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
Seven years later, the symbiosis between Donald J. Trump and his favorite cable network has only deepened. Fox News, whose commentators resolutely defend the president’s agenda, has seen ratings and revenues rise. President Trump views the network as a convenient safe space where he can express himself with little criticism from eager-to-please hosts.

Now, the line between the network’s studios and Mr. Trump’s White House is blurring further. Bill Shine, a former Fox News co-president who helped create the look and feel of the channel’s conservative programming, is expected to be hired as the president’s new deputy chief of staff, overseeing communications.

He was recommended to Mr. Trump by a mutual friend: Sean Hannity, the Fox News star who has become a confidant of the president and promoter of the administration’s message to his average nightly audience of about 3.4 million viewers, the biggest in cable news.

Presidents have long cultivated influencers in the media: Lyndon B. Johnson sought Walter Lippmann’s policy advice, and John F. Kennedy was family friends with Benjamin Bradlee, who covered his administration for Newsweek (and occasionally enjoyed flights on the president’s plane). Barack Obama held dinners with political columnists and had his preferred interlocutors: Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes interviewed him 17 times.

The Trump-Fox connection, though, extends beyond friendship and flattery to outright advocacy. The president is the beneficiary of a sustained three-hour block of aggressive prime time punditry, which has amplified his unfounded claims and given ballast to his attacks on the news media as the “enemy of the American people.”

Commentators like Mr. Hannity both parrot and help shape the president’s narratives. In Mr. Hannity’s case, he has denounced the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as part of a “deep state” conspiracy carried out by a “crime family.” Laura Ingraham recently described the facilities holding children separated from their migrant parents as “essentially summer camps.” Talking points from Fox & Friends are a staple of the president’s Twitter feed.

The prime-time rallying cry of “fake news,” in particular, has led some veteran journalists in the Fox newsroom to publicly chastise their opinion-side counterparts: Chris Wallace, the host of Fox News Sunday, recently dinged his network’s commentators for “bashing the media,” calling it “bad form.” But the attacks have apparently pleased the president, who as of Sunday had granted 23 interviews to Fox News and Fox Business Network-- roughly two-thirds of his television interviews since Inauguration Day.

The coziness has angered critics who label Fox News “state TV,” a sobriquet-- lobbed by rival TV news leaders like Jeff Zucker of CNN and Andrew Lack of NBC-- that Fox News executives emphatically reject.

...Trump’s preference for Fox News pundits has also meant fewer opportunities for him to be questioned by journalists who do not share his ideology-- including reporters at Fox News. The network’s chief political anchor, Bret Baier, was shut out for nearly 18 months before Mr. Trump agreed to sit with him, and Mr. Wallace has not interviewed the president since he took office.

...Shine is also not the first Fox News figure to join a White House in a high-ranking role: Tony Snow, the original host of “Fox News Sunday,” became George W. Bush’s press secretary in 2006.

There was a time when Fox News commentators were more willing to criticize Mr. Trump.

In July 2015, Mr. Trump, then a long-shot candidate, derided Senator John McCain’s captivity in Vietnam. “If Eric Holder had said this-- Fox News, we’d be covering it 24-7,” Greg Gutfeld, co-host of “The Five,” said on the show. “We would be demanding resignations and investigations, which is why we need to hold Donald Trump to the same standards.”

Roger E. Ailes, the channel’s late chairman, said it was “disturbing” after Mr. Trump suggested that Megyn Kelly had asked tough questions during a primary-season debate because she was menstruating. And Bill O’Reilly, while still the No. 1 anchor on Fox News, challenged Mr. Trump over his sympathies for Vladimir Putin.

Ms. Kelly has since left Fox News for NBC, and Mr. O’Reilly was ousted after a sexual harassment scandal. They were replaced in prime time by Ms. Ingraham and Mr. Carlson, who frequently draw bigger audiences than their predecessors.

...Ralph Peters, a retired lieutenant colonel in the United States Army with an expertise in United States-Russia relations, recently quit his job as a Fox News analyst, calling the network a “propaganda machine.” In an interview, he said that during his final months at the network, “I was asked ever less frequently to speak about anything that touched Trump and Russia.”

...At least three Fox personalities-- Mr. Carlson, Ms. Ingraham and Kimberly Guilfoyle-- were considered as potential White House press secretaries. Jeanine Pirro, whose weekend show has ballooned in viewership since Mr. Trump took office, interviewed to be a deputy attorney general. Heather Nauert, after a decade at Fox News, became a State Department spokeswoman.

...Since his inauguration, the president has tweeted about Fox News or Fox Business more than 220 times. His son Donald J. Trump Jr. is dating Ms. Guilfoyle. (Fox News said Ms. Guilfoyle, who co-hosts The Five, is required to disclose the relationship when discussing the Trump Organization on-air.) One morning in June, Mr. Trump surprised advisers by leaving his residence for a spur-of-the-moment Fox & Friends interview on the White House lawn, forcing the host, Steve Doocy, to scramble for questions.

Mr. Shine’s likely move to the White House did not surprise network veterans. A Long Island native and son of a New York City police officer, Mr. Shine had a hand in designing Fox News programming for two decades. Deeply loyal to Mr. Ailes, he was forced out of the network last May for his handling of sexual harassment scandals. He and Mr. Hannity are close, often traveling together with their families.

“He has an uncanny way of telling you ‘no,’ where you don’t feel bad about telling you ‘no,’” said Mr. Bolling, who is now a host on the conservative streaming network CRTV. “If he can tell the president ‘no’ when he needs to be told ‘no,’ that’s fantastic.”

Mr. Peters called Mr. Shine “a brilliant choice” for the White House. “He doesn’t spend all his day reading Milton and Dryden, but he’s very perceptive,” he said.

Ted Koppel, the former anchor of Nightline, said that Mr. Trump’s relationship with Fox News was “clearly a little bit different” from the interplay between media organizations and past presidents.

But he also urged some perspective, noting that CNN and other cable networks dedicated hundreds of hours of airtime to Trump rallies during the 2016 campaign.

“There weren’t a lot of our colleagues who covered ourselves with glory at that time,” Mr. Koppel said. “They were just so happy to get him on.”

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At 5:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's at least a little backwards. a lot of trump's lies originate with Murdoch; the fuhrer hears them on teevee; the fuhrer tweets or says whatever that lie was.

How nice for Murdoch that he's this shithole's state teevee. But he's also dictating some policy and other lies for the dumbshit who can't always come up with his own.

A sane society just wouldn't watch. But we're not a sane society, clearly.

At 7:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The media stopped being the watchdog of the public interest when Reagan boasted that "I PAID for this microphone" and the audience erupted in a loud cheer. Loud cheers to the media moguls mean big ratings and higher ad revenue. That's what CBS head honcho Les Moonves meant when he declared that Trump's run is 'damn good for CBS'.

Like a Good Republican, Reagan lied when he declared that the nine scariest words were "I'm from the government and I'm here to help" when they should be "The media tells you what you need to know".

At 8:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reagan was a creation of the media. he was a hack actor before being hired as the mouthpiece for neoliberalism by a media/corporate collective. He was addled by alzheimers already, but he knew who buttered his bread.

Elites (or their puppets) have said such things amongst the elites for guffaws forever. It's a symptom rather than a seminal moment. Remember when the bushbaby smirked that he was among his people, the 'haves' and the 'have mores'?

Used to be that the media hid this open display of lack of perspective because it wouldn't play well among the unwashed.

Today the unwashed only worship more fervently when their demigod utters such hostility.

That was Reagan's knack... and the public's defect. He portrayed himself as NOT of/by/for government (corporations) and we believed him.

The media stopped being the 4th estate when Reagan repudiated the equal time and fairness doctrines, thus opening the vault for corporate ownership and corruption of the press. When the only reason for "news" is to make money, it ceases to be journalism and becomes the celebrity worship/porn that we now have.

We used to watch/read the news in order to learn what was going on. We now watch/read just to see who had a nip slip.

says as much about us as the money.

At 9:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

fox became state tv because our state is a population of racist imbeciles. And because zero political parties give a shit about making it any better ... only worse.


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