As Greg Sargent discusses, FOX News is Trump State TV and his personal propaganda network, and if it was shut down, America would be a much nicer place.
A new study just out from the Public Religion Research Institute sheds light on this dynamic in a remarkable way: It shows that rank-and-file Republicans who watch Fox are far more loyal to Trump than those who do not.
The poll, which surveyed more than 2,000 Americans, finds that an astonishing 55 percent of Republicans who watch Fox News as their primary news source say there is almost nothing Trump could do to lose their approval. By contrast, only 29 percent of Republicans who don’t cite Fox as their primary source say this.
What’s more, 98 percent of Fox-citing Republicans oppose impeaching and removing Trump -- opposition that’s “essentially unanimous,” as PRRI puts it. By contrast, 90 percent of non-Fox-citing Republicans oppose impeaching and removing him -- which is overwhelmingly high, but suggests that among this group, at least, Trump could suffer losses on the margins as the inquiry turns up worse revelations.
And here’s another real doozy: In response to my inquiry, PRRI tells me that 71 percent of Fox-citing Republicans strongly approve of Trump, while only 39 percent of non-Fox-citing Republicans strongly approve of him.
“The numbers show that Republicans who watch Fox News tend to be much more pro-Trump,” Natalie Jackson, the research director for PRRI, told me. “Fox seems to be a powerful vehicle for Trump support.”
Of Republicans overall, 44 percent say Fox is their primary source -- meaning we’re talking about a very large chunk of the GOP base. “What Fox is putting out there is really impacting Republicans’ opinions,” Jackson said.
On impeachment, Fox News figures have put out nonstop disinformation. They regularly claim the inquiry is invalid absent a full House vote (which is baseless); that Trump did nothing wrong in the Ukraine scandal (he pressured a foreign leader to help him rig our election by investigating potential opponent Joe Biden); that the whistleblower has been discredited (his complaint perfectly anticipated what Trump actually did); and that Biden did the same or worse (which is based on a fabricated narrative).
It’s difficult to say whether Republicans watch Fox because they’re already in lockstep with Trump, or whether they’re inclined that way because of what Fox tells them. But these things seem to reinforce one another -- and that may prove a significant factor in keeping GOP lawmakers in line behind him.
“His core constituency seems to be these Fox-watching Republicans,” Jackson told me, adding that such strong numbers among those voters mean that “Republicans in Congress are going to be less likely to turn against Trump.”
Of course, some GOP lawmakers will remain behind Trump because they actively approve of his efforts in this matter. But this is probably related to the Fox effect as well. Trump has adopted the unabashed posture that demanding the sham investigation of Biden is the affirmatively correct thing to do under the circumstances, and some GOP lawmakers are with him on this.
Fox is pushing similar messages -- Trump is absolutely within his authority to call for an investigation of Biden, the truly corrupt figure in this situation; Trump is the real victim here (of the “deep state”). This hermetically sealed off universe has created a space in which Republicans are backing Trump because he’s only done right.
It's a wonder that impeachment has gotten this far, frankly. Nixon never would have resigned if FOX had been around, and Trump has used it to build an army of racist assholes to keep him in power.