FOX News has eliminated at least one-quarter of its fact-checking desk at its news operation, because the network exists to serve the Trump regime, not facts.
The recent mass layoffs at Fox News—an estimated body count of around 70, amounting to a little less than 3 percent of the cable channel’s workforce—signal what current and former employees describe as the purposeful devaluing of fact-based journalism in favor of right-wing opinion, race-baiting, and conspiracy-mongering at the top-rated, Donald Trump-friendly cable outlet.
Fox News’ PR department used anodyne corporate-speak to characterize the job losses, namely “restructuring various divisions in order to position all of our businesses for ongoing success.” But the layoffs, outside of the hair and makeup department, cut most deeply into the channel’s straight-news operations at Fox News Digital and elsewhere, according to insiders, while protecting the ratings-heavy, revenue-generating domains of Fox & Friends in the morning, and of Trump cheerleaders Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham in primetime.
The outlet’s so-called “Brain Room,” which the late Fox News founder Roger Ailes established as the 24-year-old channel’s fact-checking and research unit, has been especially hard-hit, losing around one-fourth of its 30-person staff along with two supervisors—a virtual frontal lobotomy, according to sources familiar with the cutbacks.
In October 1996, when the late Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes launched the channel for Rupert Murdoch, Ailes’s idea was to create a right-leaning outlet that challenged the perceived liberal bias of the mainstream media—CNN was a juicy target—but also presented a robust straight-news operation to counter the opinion shows. “Fair and balanced,” was Ailes’s mantra—and, while Ailes was the supreme leader, he managed news and opinion programming separately under different executives. In recent years, however, especially after Ailes was forced out in July 2016 amid sexual harassment and discrimination allegations, that distinction has steadily eroded.
Along with the painful layoffs, fired employees—worried about getting new jobs amid the COVID-19 pandemic—are being forced to sign severance agreements that include draconian non-disclosure requirements that one current staffer described as shocking, in order to receive their severance packages.
The non-disclosure section of the severance agreement requires laid-off employees to “assign to the Company any and all rights to publicity concerning any matter relating to the issues that resulted in your separation from the Company and/or this Agreement. You agree that you will not publish, contribute to or otherwise facilitate the creation of any story, book or other account relating to the Company or any Released Party. In the event you ever receive any compensation for any publicity, story, book or other disclosure relating in whole or part to those issues, all such compensation shall be immediately given over to the Company.”
Manhattan attorney Michael Willemin, a partner at Wigdor, LLP, which has sued Fox News on behalf of alleged victims of workplace discrimination and sexual abuse, told The Daily Beast: “While it is not terribly uncommon for companies to require individuals to sign releases or NDAs in connection with a severance payment, that does not mean that the practice is morally defensible. These are individuals who have just been terminated in the midst of a global pandemic and one of the worst job markets in history. Many of these individuals need these severance payments simply to make ends meet.”
It's only after the death of Roger Ailes that FOX News has transformed into the Trump Regime State TV network that it always was at heart. It's nothing but disinformation and entertainment for Trump's violent white supremacist base, and they will loudly be calling for deadly violence against Biden voters in the weeks and months ahead.