What Haunts Me Most About the Latest Fox News Revelations
Murdoch had a fleeting thought to protect democracy, but chose profit margins instead
Welcome back to Lucid! This post takes off from the discussion at our Friday Q&A. If you'd like to join these weekly Zoom gatherings where we look at the latest news and long-term trends in democracy protection and authoritarian consolidation, you can convert your subscription to paid here:
First, some personal news. I have been appointed as the 2023 Dan and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair of Democratic Ideals at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. Here is the press release from the university. I will be in residence there for the week of Feb 27-March 3. I will meet with students, faculty, and community members, and give a keynote speech about authoritarianism and how to defeat it. Since I have never been to Hawai'i, this is a double pleasure.
The lawsuit of Dominion Voting Systems against the Fox News Corporation has given us more documentation of the duplicity of Fox News leaders, who will happily destroy our democracy if they can keep up their ratings and profits. Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and other top hosts and executives publicly upheld Donald Trump's Big Lie about the 2020 election to keep the Fox viewer base happy, while privately dismissing and deriding Trump's claims of election fraud.
Tucker Carlson may have called Trump "a demonic force, a destroyer" in a Jan. 6 message to his producer Alex Pfeiffer, but he soon became the self-appointed authoritarian enforcer of GOP propaganda meant to cover up Republican attempts to overthrow the government. "Anyone who calls Jan. 6 an insurrection is a liar," Carlson remarked in Dec. 2021.
For those who study authoritarian takeovers and the propaganda operations that enable them, this is no surprise. These newly revealed documents are simply the media elite equivalent of the communications by GOP lawmakers that have periodically come to our attention. Politicians such as Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) went along publicly with Trump's election fraud disinformation, even working overtime with Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to try and find the evidence they needed. Privately, they expressed misgivings as the coup attempt gathered steam.