Fox News, Trump’s Ministry of Propaganda

For nearly a quarter of American adults, Fox News is their only cable news source. It tells them what Trump wants them to hear.

Joel Bleifuss December 20, 2019

Fox News host Sean Hannity interviews Donald Trump at a campaign rally on September 20, 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada. In October, Hannity said the investigation into Trump's actions regarding Ukraine is the "real collusion." (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

How pre­pared are Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s adver­saries to deal with the real­i­ty of a lav­ish­ly pro­duced state media oper­a­tion? This, the most-watched cable news net­work, func­tions in its feal­ty to Trump like a real-world Min­istry of Truth from George Orwell’s 1984, where bureau­crats rec­ti­fy” the his­tor­i­cal record to con­form to Big Brother’s decrees.

At Fox, where Hannity et al. make a nightly ritual of burying the truth in 'memory holes' and spinning a new version of reality, the spirit of 1984 is alive and well.

I am refer­ring, of course, to Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News. Hav­ing unsuc­cess­ful­ly tried to sell itself as Fair and Bal­anced,” Fox News debuted a new brand in March 2018: Real News. Real Hon­est Opin­ion.” Net­work exec­u­tives appar­ent­ly chose this slo­gan to dif­fer­en­ti­ate them­selves from fake news” out­lets — and, no doubt, to dog-whis­tle a pledge of alle­giance to their com­man­der-in-chief, who since being sworn into office has decried fake news in at least 630 tweets (as of Dec. 42019).

Sean Han­ni­ty, the host of Fox’s week­night flag­ship Han­ni­ty, reg­u­lar­ly rails against the media mob” and its fake news,” terms he has used on more than 100 of his shows since Feb. 20, 2019. On Feb. 21, 2019, for exam­ple, he said, The main­stream media, they devour, you know, any sto­ry that just fits their rad­i­cal, extreme exten­sion of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic social­ist par­ty agen­da. If it advances the nar­ra­tive that Don­ald Trump is evil and his sup­port­ers are bad and Amer­i­ca is scary and racist and sex­ist, homo­pho­bic, xeno­pho­bic, Islam­o­pho­bic, the media mob will shift into full gear with­out … any kind of investigation.”

It seems Han­ni­ty and Trump have stud­ied the texts of the 20th century’s mas­ter of indoc­tri­na­tion, who wrote in his 1925 auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal man­i­festo, Mein Kampf, The most bril­liant pro­pa­gan­dist tech­nique will yield no suc­cess unless one fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple is borne in mind con­stant­ly — it must con­fine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”

Over and over, indeed. With its fan­tas­ti­cal report­ing on Ukraine, Fox News is doing just that. Evi­dence over­whelm­ing­ly indi­cates that Trump refused to release mil­i­tary aid to Ukraine unless Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelen­sky pub­licly opened a cor­rup­tion inves­ti­ga­tion into the Bidens and into alle­ga­tions (for which there is no cred­i­ble evi­dence) that Ukrain­ian actors inter­fered in the 2016 elec­tion to ben­e­fit Hillary Clinton.

In the top­sy-turvy world of Fox News, this bribe attempt is fake news” spread by the media mob” — while the real news,” Fox would have you believe, is the invent­ed sto­ry of Ukrain­ian elec­tion interference.

At Fox, where Han­ni­ty et al. make a night­ly rit­u­al of bury­ing the truth in mem­o­ry holes” and spin­ning a new ver­sion of real­i­ty, the spir­it of 1984 is alive and well.

The ascen­dan­cy of this Trump­ist pro­pa­gan­da mill, more bla­tant in its con­tempt for the truth than even the pro-war cor­po­rate press in the lead-up to the 2003 inva­sion of Iraq, should give pro­gres­sives pause. For near­ly a quar­ter of Amer­i­can adults, Fox News is the sole cable news source. It behooves us to sober­ly assess how our prospects for lib­er­ty, equal­i­ty and sol­i­dar­i­ty are depen­dent on the exis­tence of an inde­pen­dent, crit­i­cal press.

Here at In These Times, we are exca­vat­ing those mem­o­ry holes” — but we can only keep dig­ging if we first fill the holes in our own bud­get. We must raise an addi­tion­al $52,000 before Dec. 31, 2019 to keep from falling short.

Fox News relies on cor­po­rate spon­sors. At In These Times, we are proud to rely on read­ers like you. Please, con­sid­er our fundrais­ing appeals. A strong and inde­pen­dent press has nev­er been need­ed more than it is today. We are all in this together.

Joel Blei­fuss, a for­mer direc­tor of the Peace Stud­ies Pro­gram at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mis­souri-Colum­bia, is the edi­tor & pub­lish­er of In These Times, where he has worked since Octo­ber 1986.

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