Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent makes some excellent points here about Trump's fight with Fox News as State television, but the reality is that this is all the media equivalent of pro wrestling kayfabe to give Fox News plausible deniability as a "real" news outlet, and I'm suprised that Sargent can't see the rope-a-dope here.
For days now, President Trump has been embroiled in a public feud of sorts with Fox News, because he’s angry that the network isn’t functioning dutifully enough as his 24/7 propaganda channel.
This is mostly being discussed as another turn in Trump’s ongoing war on the media, one in which his ire has boomeranged on his media supporters. But the story here is bigger than this: Trump’s battle with Fox illuminates the multi-tentacled manner in which Trump is corrupting our democracy and political system, in a new and interesting way.
On Thursday night, Fox’s Neil Cavuto unleashed a lengthy rebuke to Trump. In it, Cavuto pointedly noted: “Mr. President, we don’t work for you.”
This was a response to Trump’s rage-tweet excoriating the network: “We have to start looking for a new News Outlet. Fox isn’t working for us anymore!”
Trump is angry, Cavuto argued, because on occasion Fox doesn’t sufficiently whitewash his failures and lies. Cavuto noted that Trump chafes because Fox covers bad economic numbers, market drops and Trump’s ongoing trade disasters, and because Fox has pointed out that Trump lied when he claimed Mexico would pay for his wall, that Russia didn’t interfere in 2016, and that he inherited a recession from Barack Obama.
“To fact check him is to be all but dead to him,” Cavuto said, adding that many Trump supporters had contacted him to tell him that “I am either with him totally, or I am a Never Trumper fully.”
My purpose here is not to defend Fox. Yes, its news anchors sometimes do cover the administration aggressively, but the news coverage also has a heavy pro-Trump tilt, and its opinion hosts regularly traffic in outright pro-Trump agitprop and white nationalist conspiracy theories.
As Margaret Sullivan puts it, Fox writ large and Trump are the “conjoined twins of misinformation.” If anything, Trump’s attacks have given the network a way to hype its largely nonexistent independence from him.
Rather, what’s interesting here is Cavuto’s declaration that many Trump supporters have come to expect and demand from Fox absolute fealty to their leader.
Cavuto deserves some credit. In his rebuke, he exposed many of the false storylines that intertwine in Trump’s preferred narrative of the last few years: Russia never tried to sabotage our political system on his behalf. Trump deserves total credit for what has been good about the economy, having inherited nothing but wreckage from the Obama years. All the recent bad economic news is fake news, as are claims that Trump’s unhinged handling of trade is helping cause it. Trump’s buffoonish vow to subjugate Mexico and force it to pay for his wall has proved to be a mirage.
C'mon Greg, you're being played here. Give Neil Cavuto some credit? That's exactly the angle that FOX News and Trump are working here. Of course FOX is state TV. The point here in admitting what everybody knows is so it can be countered by liberal columnists saying that FOX News deserves credit for "fighting" Trump.
You can't say in one breath that FOX News is pushing white supremacy propaganda (which it is) and then say they get credit for standing up to Trump once in a while when even they get tired of coming up with excuses for his lies.
This is all 100% kabuki here and it was planned from the get-go. FOX News can claim they are objective when it comes to Trump, and Trump can rile up his base with a fight tailor-made for them to watch, it's all a good show. We're no longer asking if FOX being state TV is good or bad, we're now discussing the reframed fight on whether or not they are sufficiently deferential to Trump.
I honestly am shocked that Sargent doesn't get this soap opera. This is Trump playing the distraction card 101 and he's falling for it, but media folks stick together. In the end, they go to the same cocktail parties and their kids go to the same private schools and they know each other professionally and personally and they think it's one big game that each of them really has figured out.
I'm tired of it.