When Bill Shine, White House communications chief and deputy chief of staff, resigned last week to join President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, reporter Jamil Smith asked in Rolling Stone, “why he isn’t just going back to his old job.”
Smith wrote that Shine “resigned suddenly from his top White House job” – as if there is a gradual way to resign – to “put his energy and time into getting the network’s top viewer elected to a second term.”
Smith and others in the mainstream media have had enough of Fox News beating them in the ratings and in access to the president, and their frustration has begun to show up in print.
His piece, for instance, commented extensively on one in the New Yorker by Jane Mayer entitled, “The Making of the Fox News White House” – subhead: “Fox News has always been partisan. But has it become propaganda?” – in which she contends Sean Hannity “virtually is” a member of the administration, debate questions were leaked to Trump and the network has become, according to an academic quoted in the story, “’the closest we’ve come to having state TV.’”
Others may warn, without evidence, that we have 12 years to live unless we cease using fossil fuels entirely during that time, but “For both Trump and Fox, ‘fear is a business strategy – it keeps people watching,’” the academic, Nicole Hemmer of the University of Virginia is quoted as saying in Mayer’s piece.
Mayer’s piece quotes Bill Kristol, who lost his magazine, The Weekly Standard, largely because of its strident anti-Trumpism, saying Fox had “changed a lot. Before, it was conservative, but it wasn’t crazy. Now it’s just propaganda.” It quotes Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post, also virulently hostile to Trump, saying, “Fox was begun as a good-faith effort to counter bias, but it’s morphed into something that is not even news. It’s simply a mouthpiece for the president.’”
It claims anonymous sources say White House advisors “have taken to calling” Sean Hannity of Fox News “the shadow chief of staff,” and that another Republican anonymous source said “’The place has gone off the rails. There is no ordinary policy-development system,’” and Fox’s on-air personalities “’are filling the vacuum.’”
Rupert Murdoch’s plan for Fox, Mayer wrote, was that “Unlike the three established networks, which vied for the same centrist viewers, his creation would follow the unapologetically lowbrow model of the tabloids that he published in Australia and England and appeal to a narrow audience that would be entirely his.” This would “’become the Trump base,” she wrote, quoting former Federal Communications Commission chairman Reed Hundt.
She then quotes Blair Levin, a fellow from the liberal Brookings Institution, saying, “’Fox’s great insight wasn’t necessarily that there was a great desire for a conservative point of view.’ More erudite conservatives, he says, such as William F. Buckley, Jr., and Bill Kristol, couldn’t have succeeded as Fox has. Levin observes, ‘The genius was seeing that there’s an attraction to fear-based, anger-based politics that has to do with class and race.’”
Levin went on to say Roger Ailes, who ran Fox from its founding until recent years, “invented programming … ‘that confirmed all your worst instincts – Fox News’ fundamental business model is driving fear.’”
The effects of all this fearmongering have been devastating, wrote Smith for Rolling Stone.
The Mayer piece “offers a clear picture of how the network and this White House have exploited American misconceptions and resentments, all of which endanger the fundamental notions of a functioning democracy. Through the network’s undue influence on Trump, it perpetuates cruel and harmful policy every day that he stays in the White House. Fox has created a monster, and by working in tandem, both the network and the president whom it sponsors are now significant threats to the overall health of the republic.”