Fox “News” is a propaganda outfit intended to manipulate public opinion by bending the “news” to preferentially be whatever the Republican hard right would most like it to be. Sometimes this means reporting real news with a conservative edge to it; sometimes it means peddling hoaxes, often in tacit coordination with the Republicans who invented them to begin with. We’re supposed to believe that if Fox only promotes a certain percentage of fake stories, they still retain legitimacy as a “real” news outlet, but there’s never a number put to that. Can a legitimate news outlet run one completely made-up story a day and retain legitimacy? Is it fine if the hoaxes run mostly during prime-time hours? Can a network promote $790 million worth of fake news, but not $795 million?
Do tell, American pundit corps, because the rest of us remain mystified.
Over the weekend, Fox News showed us how they operate—again—with nearly three hours of gaudy coverage of a straight-up news hoax. This one was a throwback to the specific Rudy Giuliani-spread anti-Ukraine, anti-Biden hoaxes that got Donald Trump impeached when Trump attempted to solicit support for the hoax from the Ukrainian government in exchange for an end to his holdup of congressionally mandated military aid to the country.
Remember discredited former Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin, the man ousted from the government after international pressure over what was seen as Shokin’s, ahem, lackluster interest in fighting Ukrainian corruption? He’s back, thanks to Fox News bobblehead Brian Kilmeade.
That it was left to one of the glassy-eyed “Fox & Friends” hosts to interview the disgraced Shokin should tell you just how little appetite there was among Fox’s “legitimate” news team to appear on camera with the buffoon; Kilmeade certainly has no reputation for “journalism” that could be tarnished. This is the conspiracy that resulted in the complete dismantling of conservative faux-journalist John Solomon’s waning career, after all, and there’s not many media figures outside the “Fox & Friends” lineup who want to be the next John Solomon.
In the interview, Shokin regurgitated the same conspiracy theory that Giuliani attempted to import to the United States the moment it appeared that Joe Biden would be Trump’s presidential opponent: the notion that he was the victim of a Biden plot to oust him when, in fact, his removal was spurred by an international campaign and by official United States government condemnation of his failures. Giuliani sought to boost the theory with the help of pro-Russian (read: treasonous) Ukrainian oligarchs that Ukraine’s post-Shokin anticorruption efforts had targeted. That not a shred of this theory turned out to be true—and a whole lot of it was manufactured outright—was hardly a surprise.
That Trump himself would soon attach himself to the hoax, using the powers of his office to demand the Ukrainian government announce they were “investigating” the false charges, was … also not a surprise.
Media Matters tallies up the Fox promotion of Shokin’s completely hoax-premised claims against Biden, and between “teasing, airing, and analyzing” the interview it amounted to “at least 50 segments across 19 different programs.” That’s a heavy media push, and it coincides with a new House Republican push to mount an impeachment trial against Biden to act as a counternarrative to Trump potentially landing his ass in a prison cell on a host of federal and state charges.
Why would Fox News be resurrecting a Giuliani-boosted hoax immediately after Giuliani himself has been indicted for attempting to corruptly undermine an American election? What’s the “news” value in rerunning one of his most notorious anti-Biden campaign scams?
There isn’t any, as the interview itself made clear. But it allowed conspiracy-minded Fox News hosts to run the footage as if the claims were new, and to speculate on whether House Republicans would use Shokin’s claims to help justify a Biden impeachment. That is of tremendous use to Republicans, even if Shokin himself remains an utterly discredited fraud-promoting huckster.
That brings us back to our original question, then. What percentage of the Fox News day can be booked with actual, known hoax-pushers before the “journalism” side of the business can be discredited? We’ve been told repeatedly by other media figures that the “news” side of Fox News is on the up-and-up, no matter how many times their anchors make partisan asses of themselves during “real news” hours. It’s up to those media figures, then, to share a number with us. For CNN, for NBC, for The Washington Post, for The New York Times: What percentage of completely fake “news” can your journalism include, per segment or per page, and still retain its “real news” label?
Do tell. The rest of us simply don’t seem to understand “journalism” with enough nuance to put some numbers to these things, so stop beating around the bush and just give us your answers, straight up. How many intentional hoaxes are “real” news outlets allowed to promote?
Republished with permission from Daily Kos.