By Carmen Gentile
Dozens of protesters converged at Fox News' Headquarters, on March 13, 2019, as the corporation held an "emergency" meeting in order to court nervous brands to continue advertising on the network. The protest, titled "Drop Fox" was organized following a slew of negative stories about Fox News, including old audio tapes of Fox host Tucker Carlson making, racist, misogynistic, and bigoted statements. (Photo by Michael Nigro)(Sipa via AP Images)
Hell yes, we should care! It’s a huge deal!
And I’m not even talking about all the lies Fox has told for decades that turned too many of our parents into racist, conspiracy-spouting nightmares (though more on this later).
For now, I’m focused solely on Fox’s 2020 presidential Big Election Lie, a Trump-induced fever dream from which tens of millions of Americans still can’t awake.
We should care because a large portion of the American electorate tunes into Fox News to tell them how to vote, what to be afraid of, who to hate, etc.
So when Fox overlord Rupert Murdoch recently said under oath that his network systematically misled its viewers about the so-called “rigged” 2020 election knowing damn well the race was clean, it signaled to me two distinct possibilities:
- Murdoch knows the only way he’s not going to get dinged with the full weight of Dominion’s $1.6 billion lawsuit is to start playing the “mea culpa” card in hopes they settle for a fraction of the tab.
- The Fox News founder and chairman – having successfully terraformed the news media landscape for the worse in America and elsewhere – is in fact a real-life Sith Lord who doesn’t give a shit whether we know the details of his sinister plot.
It’s a coin toss for me. Murdoch is 92 years old and every bit as wrinkled and ghoulish as Emperor Palpatine. I’m not sure what’s propping him up at this point. Either it’s a billionaire’s access to the best medicine money can buy, or clear evidence of Dark Side alchemy at work.
I ponder. You decide.
Right now, what we do know from reports is that Fox News was in a desperate scramble to regain its status as king of all conservative media after making the disastrous decision to accurately call the Arizona presidential race for Biden. That tidbit of accurate reporting alone incurred the wrath of Trump, who in turn told his legions of pre-Jan. 6 Twitter followers that Fox had gone Deep State insane and could no longer be trusted.
Fox News saw their ratings crater overnight, with viewers tuning into the even loonier and less-journalistically responsible Newsmax and OAN.
So in order to rapidly repair Fox’s love affair with Trump and his faithful, Darth Rupert (I’m leaning heavily into my second theory) ordered his evening lineup of loyal Trump Stormtroopers like Sean Hannity to entertain whatever election-denial lunacy a sweaty, ranting Rudy Giulinai and even crazier by comparison Sidny Powell could muster before the next catheter commercial.
From The New York Times reporting on Murdoch’s recent testimony in the Dominion lawsuit:
The new documents and a similar batch released this month provide a dramatic account from inside the network, depicting a frantic scramble as Fox tried to woo back its large conservative audience after ratings collapsed in the wake of Mr. Trump’s loss. Fox had been the first network to call Arizona for Joseph R. Biden on election night — essentially declaring him the next president. When Mr. Trump refused to concede and started attacking Fox as disloyal and dishonest, viewers began to change the channel.
So yeah, from Murdoch on down, everyone at Fox with a pulse and two brain cells to rub together knew Trump’s election-denial nonsense was just that, and the only reason they kept broadcasting it was because it made them gobs of money.
The seeming casual admission by Murdoch of said greed while threatening American democracy is especially galling.
Murdoch said it was “wrong” for Tucker Carlson to host conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell after the election. When asked why he continued to allow the MyPillow CEO to continue appearing on Fox News, Murdoch signaled it was a business decision. “It is not red or blue, it is green,” he said. That’s a shocking admission from Murdoch about what actually guides coverage at Fox News.
It is not red or blue, it is green ….
Murdoch said that like someone who knows the only consequence he’s faced so far for mutilating the American electoral process for profit was during his failure to lead the crazy train off the democracy-destroying cliff.
Whether Dominion gets to put its lawyerly screws to Murdoch remains to be seen. However, were their lawsuit to be successful, and Murdoch is forced to stroke a giant check, it could very well open the floodgate for others impugned by Fox over the years to also seek financial restitution.
And what about the rest of us? Those of us who don’t watch Fox but can recite every talking point spewed by Hannity and the rest of the network’s election-lie minions after ingesting our older relative’s regurgitated talking points at every family gathering.
I believe we, like Dominion, have been similarly harmed — or at the very least chronically annoyed — and are entitled to compensation.
Class action lawsuit anyone?
Carmen Gentile is founder and editor-at-large of Postindustrial. He has worked for some of the world’s leading publications and news outlets including The New York Times, USA Today, CBS News and others. His book, “Blindsided by the Taliban,” documents his life as a war reporter and the aftermath of his brush with death after being shot with a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan.
By Marcella S. Kreiter
By Carmen Gentile