A narrative for all, the truth for some. I have seen in recent weeks the political narrative on Fox News shift to mirror Robert Muller’s investigation into Russian collusion (more on that in my next post). Fox News’ counter narrative to the investigation has gained footing in recent weeks.
Republican members of the House and Senate have began to question the integrity of Mr. Mueller’s team of FBI investigators and lawyers, using the release of Peter Strzok’s anti-Trump as an impetus. I will address this issue in another post, but over the last few weeks, I have come to realize that Fox News’ reporting is gaining more and more traction, as members of congress and even the president repeat the issues raised on Fox & Friends and Hannity.
The chicken or the egg? Which came first? Did Republicans in the White House and Congress start voicing their opposition to the Mueller investigation and then Fox reported on it? Or is Fox News dictating the talking points for capitol hill? We know Trump regularly tweets ‘news’ after seeing it on Fox and Friends. Republican senators and congressmen grilled Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein during a meeting on Capitol Hill about the investigation’s integrity after Mr. Hannity first broke the conspiracy news. Sean Hannity’s theories are not a silent whistle to the Republican Party, they are a bullhorn sonic boom.
I want to explain why a loyal CNN and MSNBC viewer would intentionally tune in to Fox News’ flagship program, Hannity. For many news watchers, Fox viewers and CNN fans alike, there seems to be a fear of watching ‘the other channel.’ For me, I thought if I were to turn to Fox News, I’d just get too angry, or somehow become a traitor to my side.
Can we go back a few years to when Jon Stewart on the Daily Show (Comedy Central) was the most rational voice of liberal politics on TV, meaning it seemed like more people were tuning in and listening to the Daily Show for their news than CNN.
When I watched Jon Stewart, I noticed that he not only reported the news, he would take current quotes from politicians and then broadcast an earlier video of that same politician contradicting themselves. Mr. Stewart did the same thing with the commentators on Fox. He would watch Fox News, along with the other news stations.
That was something I haven’t seen in recent times, honestly since Jon Stewart retired. Trevor Noah is very funny, and he brings his own brand of news and humor to the show, but the Daily Show has lost some of it’s bite. Jon Stewart did oppo on the enemy, Fox News, and I think his debunking of Fox’s ‘facts’ helped to clarify a perpetually muddy political news cycle for many Americans.
Feeling confident that I could watch Fox News without being tainted or influenced, I finally put on some Hannity. After watching a few episodes, I began to realize there was nothing to fear, because after getting the truth from news networks with journalistic integrity who cited their sources, I saw Fox News for what it was: a circus of distractions.
Sean Hannity is an expert in the defensive tactic of Whataboutism. The word defines itself. When someone brings up the Russia investigation, Hannity replies with “What about Hillary Clinton? Why wasn’t she prosecuted when she was obviously guilty?” When someone brings up a point about Trump or Russia, deflect, pivot, and conflate the issue with Hillary’s supposed scandal for which she was not prosecuted.
Then I found the key to watching Fox News: simply keep in mind that almost everything they report on is at best a distortion of the truth, at the worst outright lies. With this provision, Fox News transforms from an influential behemoth into a bratty kid with a corrupt voice.
For any readers out there, I challenge you to watch Fox News. Watch it. See how often they cite sources beyond stating “someone said…” Notice how often they give an even voice to opposing opinions (Hannity is infamous for cutting off contributors on his show when they begin to make a point that doesn’t jibe with his opening monologue).
Fox News became funny to watch. I would laugh at the mental gymnastics Mr. Hannity performed to justify his positions. I would chuckle as Sean discounted facts that had been shown to be true, verified by multiple sources. Nowadays, I look forward to watching Hannity almost as much as I anticipate Rachel Maddow’s program.
Fox News is funny. They are yelling at the top of their lungs from their soapbox that the president is innocent and ‘Cooked’ Hillary needs to be re-investigated. Hillary is no longer relevant. She does not sit in the Oval Office. I’d even be in favor of reopening the Hillary investigation if I thought it would stop Fox from hyper-focusing on her. However, I have a feeling that even if we did concede a separate re-litigation for Hillary, it would not bring Fox to the truth table.
Something I would say to my friends to help them understand what was really happening in Washinton: Fake News doesn’t result in federal indictments. Paul Manafort and Rick Gated have been charged with a litany of felony crimes. George Popadopaulos has pleaded guilty. General Micheal Flynn, the President’s Secretary of Defense for 24 days, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
Unfortunately for Sean Hannity and Fox News, the fact that Popadopaulos and Flynn pleaded guilty in a federal court forced them to raise the stakes and expand their accusations to include a corrupt justice system, skewed toward Hillary and Democrats. Good luck with that.
Hey Fox, don’t forget to mention that Republicans control the House, the Senate, and the White House. Where is the Deep State? One person who could shut down the Mueller investigation, Fox points out, is attorney general Jeff Sessions. Hannity is taking Sessions to task for not intervening into the Russian Investigation. Regrettably, Jeff had to recuse himself because of his communications with Russian officials during the transition.
It seems that as the Russia Investigation reaches into the president’s inner circle, Fox will correspondingly ramp up it’s own counter-narrative to rationalize what is happening in Washington. I will address Fox’s mirror narrative in my next blog post.