OPINION: Emails and text messages unveiled in a court filing detail how Fox News executives and on-air talent were willing to push election lies to keep viewers and advertisers happy. The network, known for criminalizing Blackness, is a threat to multicultural democracy and the rule of law. It should be shut down.
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Fox “News” is not a right-leaning news organization but a propaganda network created to help the Republican Party. A threat to democracy, Fox News divides people and spreads white supremacist hate and lies for profit. Many already knew this, but the receipts coming from the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit against Fox are a wonder to behold.
Dominion, a voting technology company, filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against the network owned by Rupert Murdoch, claiming Fox News aired false claims that Dominion was involved in helping steal the 2020 election for Biden. Another elections company, Smartmatic, has filed a $2.7 billion lawsuit against Fox News, alleging the network falsely claimed it rigged the election to benefit Biden.
Internal emails and texts disclosed in a court filing reveal Fox executives and on-air personalities knew Trump and his lawyers, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, lied about election stealing but promoted their wild conspiracy theories as if they were true to keep their viewers and their ad revenue. The network mocked Trump and his surrogates behind their backs.
On Jan. 6, 2021, Carlson texted producer Alex Pfeiffer that “Trump is a demonic force, a destroyer. But he’s not going to destroy us.” He added, “Sidney Powell is lying. F*cking b*tch.” Laura Ingraham told Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity “Sidney Powell is a bit nuts. Sorry but she is.”
Internal documents also suggest that when Fox News called Arizona for Biden on election night, its ratings suffered to rival Newsmax, causing Fox to go on a “war footing” and prioritize viewers over the truth. Rupert Murdoch told Suzanne Scott, Fox News CEO: “These people should be watched, if skeptically. Trump will concede eventually and we should concentrate on Georgia, helping any way we can. We don’t want to antagonize Trump further, but Giuliani taken with a large grain of salt. Everything at stake here.”
After a Fox News reporter accurately fact-checked one of Trump’s lies, Carlson told Hannity: “Please get her fired. Seriously What the f*ck? actually shocked It needs to stop immediately, like tonight. It’s measurably hurting the company. The stock price is down. Not a joke.”
And Fox News anchor Bret Baier wanted the network to put Arizona back in the Trump column, according to “The Divider,” a book by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser. “This situation is getting uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable. I keep having to defend this on air,” Baier reportedly said. So much for any claims that Fox News is a real and legitimate news organization with “fair and balanced” reporters and journalists, as opposed to their primetime lineup of opinionated talking heads.
Meanwhile, even as Fox News knowingly peddled “insane conspiracy theories” about the 2020 election from people they thought were crazy — all while knowing Biden had won the election — the executives knew their on-air talent were lunatics.
Fox President Jay Wallace reportedly said: “the North Koreans do a more nuanced show than Lou Dobbs.” Fox executive Gary Schreier said on Maria Bartiromo: “The problem is she has gop conspiracy theorists in her ear and they use her for their message sometimes.”
Fox News executives called Jeanine Pirro “crazy” and “nuts.” One Fox insider called Carlson and Hannity “crazy Tucker and crazier Hannity,” while another said, “Hannity is a little out there.”
A particularly dangerous propagandist is Tucker Carlson, who openly promotes white supremacist ideology such as the great replacement theory and praises autocrats like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary.
Russian state television features Fox News clips from Carlson and Tulsi Gabbard in an effort to sell the Russian war in Ukraine, and the Russian government instructed their media outlets to use broadcasts and segments of Carlson “as much as possible.”
Now House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has given Tucker — who downplayed the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021 as “vandalism” — exclusive access to 41,000 hours of Jan. 6 surveillance footage. What could go wrong, except a threat to national security?
From the outset, dirty political operative Roger Ailes created Fox News as a “fear factory” and a partisan GOP propaganda machine masquerading as an authentic news organization. The channel caters to an older, white right-leaning demographic. Low-information consumers rely on Fox News for their “news,” as some have accused the network of inciting political violence in America — even more than Donald Trump himself.
A threat to a multicultural democracy and the rule of law, Fox News is a real threat to Black lives and other people of color. The network criminalizes Blackness and reinforces racial stereotypes, promotes the trope of “Black-on-Black” crime and associates Black Lives Matter with looting and rioting. One study found that just viewing a Fox News logo is enough to fuel racism and make white people believe Black people are guilty.
A popular meme circulating on social media tells you all you need to know about Fox News. The cartoon features Rupert Murdoch sitting at a table in front of a plate stacked with cookies. Murdoch sits next to a Black man — who has no cookies — and another white man who has one cookie. Murdoch warns the white man, “Careful. That foreigner wants your cookie.”
Fox News shows have broken British broadcasting rules on impartiality, but what should America do about this dangerous domestic media threat? Should Fox News be allowed to call itself “news” when it is nothing more than political propaganda for the Republican Party? Would they even pass for “entertainment” when they incite racial and political violence and fuel domestic terrorism? Since Fox News deals with Russian propaganda, should the U.S. or U.K. government freeze Murdoch’s assets?
Fox News is pure poison. Hazardous waste. Lacking ethics, morals and sanity, this is what happens when media executives make lying into a business model and place profits above the public interest. Perhaps now, finally, the toxic network will have its comeuppance. It’s time to shut them down.
David A. Love is a journalist and commentator who writes investigative stories and op-eds on a variety of issues, including politics, social justice, human rights, race, criminal justice and inequality. Love is also an instructor at the Rutgers School of Communication and Information, where he trains students in a social justice journalism lab. In addition to his journalism career, Love has worked as an advocate and leader in the nonprofit sector, served as a legislative aide, and as a law clerk to two federal judges. He holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Harvard University and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He also completed the Joint Programme in International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford. His portfolio website is davidalove.com.
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