Sunday, February 25, 2024

Network of Liars

Trump has been a nightmare obsession of mine, but really he is a just one man.  He had lots of support including the Fox network.  The two  have a symbiotic relationship.

After finishing this book, as others have said, Trump is not the real danger that his followers are, I would say the same about Fox and their supporters.  Fox correctly identified an audience with neglected grievances.  They courted them with great success and then became dependent on them.  The majority of their viewers had racist and homophobic sympathies or were advocates for gun rights or just hated government authority.

Fox learned the hard way, they have created a monster.  They helped create an audience and then found if they changed their tune their audience would abandon them.  Fox management were upset  with Trump after January 6th ( and many before then) and Ron De Santis was seen as a better alternative, but not their audience that had started looking for someone who would support their set beliefs.

On January 6th, Trump was stuck on the Fox station from 1:25 and thus was well aware of the commotion outside the Capital.

The Fox audience lovedsomeone who could defy conventions that they hated.  They bundled Trump's issues into their own.  Any accusations by commentators were brushed aside as political lies.

Only vaguely aware of the Murdoch family and was surprised to learn they were more complicated than previously assumed.  However not surprised that the big focus was on making money.  One son, James with his wife Kathryn was against  right wing politics and the two strongly were involved with environmental issues.  Another son Lachlan was taking over the operation with concerns of building. a bigger empire  Two sisters were mostly in the background, but also had a vote on the business.  Rupert himself was sharp and staunchly conservative in his 90's,  but sometimes distracted by his merry go round of wives.

Paul Ryan, the former House Speaker was on the Fox board director.  A conservative he felt Trump was bad for the Republicans and or Fox.  He was one of those who preferred Trump should be sidelined.    

A lot of Fox hosts play a role in the book.  Number one is Tucker Carlson whose firing was outlined near the beginning and explanations followed up towards the end.  Carlson enjoyed being provocative has gone on to be even more so.  Although he had very high ratings he also attracted advertising boycotts.  Maria Bartiroma seemed to be a true Trumper, a bit unhinged in other words.  Sean Hannity was revealed to be practical in his treatment of Trump.

The Dominion case was covered as they were able to hurt Fox, although only temporarily.  Fox was able to claim their disinformation was based on their honest beliefs.   Dominion was able to suceed to show malice  by uncovering e mails and also some statements bt Rupert Murdoch.  

The House Select Investigation Committee was concerned.  Those who dismissed the hearing findings  should have noticed the incriminating information came from Republicans, many of them appointed by Trump.  They, not the television zombies actually had personal contact with the egotistical president at revealing times.

There are counter trends to disinformation that hopefully will grow.  One example given was from Pete Buttigieg, the Transportation Secretary who has sought an opportunity to speak on Fox which may not convert very many Trumpers, but assures that correct information is received.  To my way of thinking education is a key.  The author recounts how his six year old came home talked about a school test with a quiz "Fact or Opinion?" which Brian adapted to "Fact, Opinion or Lie?" Actually youngsters were able to sort them out.

Brian Selter, the author is someone I used to look forward to listening to on Sunday mornings as he was always trying to get at the truth.  In this book has done a lot of digging to get the details that might help us understand.

Fox definitely enabled Donald Trump and such like.  There were other enablers:

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