Last night we reached new depths of FOX News being Trump State Media, in a performance from Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity that would have Goebbels applauding for hours. Greg Sargent details the atrocities:
In his interview with Ingraham, Trump ripped into Pelosi for privately saying she wants to see Trump “in prison.” He blasted Pelosi as a “nasty, vindictive, horrible person” and claimed special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report was a “disaster” that produced “nothing” (an incalculable absurdity, given its incredibly damning revelations).
Trump also insisted that Mueller produced a letter to “straighten out” his recent public remarks, which were “wrong” (as Steve Benen shows, Mueller in no way backed off his devastating core assertions). And Trump called the investigation a “phony witch hunt,” absurdly suggesting the Russian attack on our political system, which Mueller extensively documented, was a big nothing never worth investigating.
“I think they’re in big trouble,” Trump said of Pelosi and Democrats, “when you look at the kind of crimes that were committed.”
This echoed Trump’s long-running argument that the only corruption that occurred was the Russia investigation itself, perpetrated by law enforcement and Democrats, an absurd rewriting of basic history that has generated one buffoonish pratfall after another.
Naturally, Hannity picked up this baton, tearing into Pelosi for wanting “a political opponent locked up in prison,” which “happens in banana republics".
Hannity also claimed it’s an “irrefutable fact that there was no collusion.” This is a severe distortion: Mueller said “collusion” isn’t a legally meaningful term and documented extensive efforts by Trump World to encourage, profit off, and, yes, conspire with the Russian attack. Hannity suggested Democrats “don’t state” what they believe Trump has done wrong — a ridiculous lie, since this is amply laid out in Democratic documents.
It should be impossible to watch these diatribes in full without quickly realizing that this isn’t ordinary political dishonesty — some level of artifice is an inevitable feature of politics — but rather is something much more insidious. What’s notable is the sheer comprehensiveness of the effort to create an alternate set of realities whose departure from the known facts seemingly aims to be absolute and unbridgeable.
As many have noted, it’s richly absurd that Hannity is claiming Pelosi is engaging in “banana republic” stuff, given that Trump has called for investigations into his political opponents for years. Indeed, in the Ingraham interview, Trump blasted Pelosi over this, then immediately segued into suggesting that Democrats will soon be held accountable for imagined crimes.
But this absurd duality should be understood as a feature of this kind of Trumpian disinformation. It won’t do to note its self-contradictory nature. The whole point is to wield this kind of absurdity as an instrument of power. It’s to use an alternate reality to supplant and extinguish good faith efforts to discern actual reality — to blot out the possibility of shared agreement on facts that are in front of all our noses through the sheer insistence that the alternate reality is supreme. The alt-reality doesn’t have to be proved as the true one; just established as the dominant one.
And this method is how Trump is going to start throwing his political enemies in jail in mass quantities. The narrative is whatever Trump says it is, he has people to tell America this, and they listen.
And they obey.