In the aftermath of the news that President Trump directly urged former FBI Director Comey to drop any investigation into former NSA Mike Flynn, there are murmurings tonight that perhaps, finally, the Narrative is lurching and groaning and starting to shift, that, G&R willing, all of America is starting to see this presidency for the attack on our democracy that it is. I’m not a religious person in any sense of the word, but I will pray every day, earnestly, that those murmurings turn out to be true, and that we are finally prepared to address this attack head-on.
But I’m not holding my breath.
Remember how, after the “pussy grabbing” tape, all of those Republican politicians went on television and tearfully announced that they just could no longer support this vile man … and then a week later, they quietly recanted and jumped back on the Trump Train … and then once he was sworn in, every goddamn one of them treated him like he was their drunk daddy, trying desperately to please him and not risk his sloppy, menacing ire?
So yeah, with that in mind, I’ll believe Republicans are anything more than “concerned” about F.A.T. when they start acting like it.
But nevertheless, if, G&R willing, this nightmare ends sometime in the future, and it ends because America grew the fuck up and decided it wasn’t going to abide its unstable, narcissistic, boy President any longer, it will be important to remember how we wound up with F.A.T. in the first place.
And Exhibit A in that analysis of how we got here – of how the Republican Party became so unmoored, and so willing to follow this deranged pied piper – is this:
This is a screen shot from approximately 9:30 p.m. EST, May 15, while every other news organization was aggressively covering the unprecedented scandal of the day: the revelation that President Trump revealed highly classified information – information we had not even shared with our allies – to the Russian emissaries he invited into the Oval Office.
It’s already been buried by today’s horrifying scandal, but the more we learn about President Trump’s “oopsie” with the Russians, the more disturbed we should be. There have been reports that the disclosure jeopardized an Israeli spy that had infiltrated ISIS, and countless distressing reports that Israel is furious, and that our allies fear sharing intelligence with the United States. And despite the White House’s assertions that this was just some silly, harmless banter among the President and his Russian buddies, CNN reported just this afternoon that some of the details President Trump gleefully reported to the Russians were details that the U.S. government had asked CNN not to report because doing so would put lives at risk.
All of this is to say that this was a serious story involving an extraordinarily serious security lapse by the President, one that made our country less safe, and every other reputable news organization treated it that way. After the Washington Post broke the story, the New York Times, CNN, Reuters, the conservative Wall Street Journal, and countless other outlets did their own reporting, confirmed the story, and added more nuance and texture to paint a true picture of this extraordinary and dangerous event in American history.
Fox News was focused on … the retirement plans of an old lady who will never run for office again?
Again, to be clear, this news had broken many hours earlier, and was escalating into an enormous news event, but if you visited Fox News’ website, you’d think it was a fun afterthought, more “fake news.” Indeed, the link to the story on FoxNews.com reads: “‘IT DIDN’T HAPPEN’ WH denies report Trump revealed classified info.” And lest you think that perhaps the intern in charge of the website is just really into Hillary, here’s a nice breakdown of Fox News’ coverage throughout the evening.
This approach to reporting “the news” by actively ignoring reality, is helpful in only one regard: it helps to explain Fox News’ approach to tonight’s breaking news, a memo from Mr. Comey describing F.A.T. interfering in an FBI investigation and requesting that the FBI throw journalists in prison. Check it out:
I’ve been told, again and again, that one of the reasons Republicans hate me so much is that we liberals are snide and condescending, we treat them like they’re stupid.
There’s a little truth in that – I can be a snide S.O.B. who fancies himself quite the intellectual (check out my insufferable blog!), but I don’t think anyone, including Republicans, are stupid, and I hope I don’t too often treat them that way. Quite the contrary, the underlying premise of this insufferable blog is that I desperately want Republicans to join our cause, and assume they’re smart and patriotic enough to get there.
But you know who does think Republicans are stupid, who treats them like they’re stupid, day after day after day? Fox News. Smug, small, vacuous shits like L’il Tucker, who in the face of a massive, historic story of Presidential scandal, insults Republicans by telling them: “What You Think is Happening Often Isn’t.” What kind of 1984 horseshit is that? How stupid does he think we are?
If you’ve been watching Fox News for the past 5, 10, 15 years, you’ve been treated to a steady dose of alternate reality. I’ve been told that the effect is completely overwhelming, that many Fox News viewers cannot even conceive of the America the rest of us, in the real world, are living in. That’s scary.
Remember when Fox News worked you up into an angry lather, time and time again, because Obama put his feet on the resolute desk, or took his jacket off in the Oval Office? There are actual scandals happening – major ethical violations, major security breaches, a President who literally can’t stand being at the White House – but if you’re watching Fox News, you’re not seeing any of that, or you’re being told to ignore it as “fake news.”
Remember how furious you were when Obama had the audacity to use the “S word” (“stupid”) to describe some cops in Massachusetts who did something stupid? Remember how Fox News swore Obama was creating a race war by sharing his personal reflections on Trayvon Martin? President Trump has created an America where we’ve got honest to God white supremacists marching with torches, chanting “Russia is our friend,” and hate groups and hate crimes are exploding across the country, but if you’re watching Fox News, they’re very upset that, gosh darnit, all lives matter.
Remember death panels, and how Obamacare was going to gut our economy, and turn our nation into a socialist wasteland? Turns out it was a pretty decent piece of public policy, one that achieved very real successes with regards to giving more Americans access to affordable health care. In the real world, that’s a good thing; in the real world, when Republicans in Congress push a “replacement,” under cover of night, that will cause more than 20 million Americans to lose insurance and that, yes, unequivocally, will result in the death of untold thousands, that’s generally a bad thing. But in Fox News world, I don’t even know what the fuck they’re telling you.
In the Bush administration, Fox News spewed persistent bullshit, and artfully painted a rosy picture of a lousy presidency until – around the time of Hurricane Katrina – the failings of President Bush became undeniable and impossible to ignore. In the Obama administration, Fox News created a surreal, desolate alternate reality, but the damage could only extend so far because President Obama himself resided so squarely in the real world. In the Trump administration, Fox News has found a willing collaborator, a man who will project and amplify that alternate reality from the pulpit of the presidency. And so we’ve reached a point where even the undeniably undeniable – the most obvious, flagrant transgressions, shit Donal Trump admits to – gets a robust, Through the Looking Glass, indignant defense from F.A.T.’s most ardent cheerleaders.
Fox News has become State News, which means that when President Trump tells a lie, Fox News makes no attempt to get to the truth of the matter, they repeat the lie, amplify it. If you’re a regular Fox News viewer, you must be asking yourself, how stupid do they think you are?
Jennifer Rubin is a writer for the Washington Post, and an arch conservative. During President Obama’s second term, there was literally no conservative pundit who boiled my blood more. Now Ms. Rubin is One of the Good Ones, an ardent and patriotic member of the Resistance, although still conservative as hell. Ms. Rubin wrote a great piece yesterday about this very topic, concluding that Fox News has “become the purveyor of falsehoods and propaganda, not a member of an independent media tasked with holding elected leaders accountable.”
I look forward to the day I can fight with Ms. Rubin again; for now I salute her.
I often hear conservatives say, “well I just don’t know what news sources to trust anymore.” Why don’t you start with Jennifer Rubin? She does – or at least did prior to committing to putting country above party in response to F.A.T. – absolutely drive liberals crazy, myself included. Start with Ms. Rubin, and pay attention to the sources she cites, the journalists she trusts, and build from there. I think you’ll be surprised at how much good, honest journalism is out there.
But you know who’s not honest? Who’s not even so much doing journalism? Who absolutely, clearly, without any question, thinks you’re too stupid to change the channel?