The big question to come out of the long list of stories about Dominion Voting System’s lawsuit against Fox News is, will it make any difference to their viewers? The stunning revelations would seem to cause any viewer to question whether they trust anything Fox News says on air.
Viewers who stay loyal to Fox clearly are watching for a different reason. They don’t care about the facts of a news story. They just want coverage that plays into their own biases. They must be there to feel good about their world views – not to be informed about world affairs.
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In a way, I can understand the mentality. I’m a baseball fan and when I sit down to watch a game, I have to suspend all rational common sense. If I thought about how much money players make, it would ruin the fun. Aaron Judge signed a 9-year contract with the Yankees that pays him $360 million. That’s $40 million per season. Judge had 570 at-bats last season, which works out to $70,000 every time he walks to the plate, whether he hits a home run or strikes out. He still walks back to the dugout with another $70,000 in his bank account.
I can’t think about that when I’m watching a game, so I just close the rational side of my brain, sit back, and marvel at how far Judge can hit a baseball. I want to be entertained. I want to see a good game. I don’t want to be concerned about the facts.
It must be the same thing for Fox News viewers. They don’t really care about the facts, they just want to be entertained and have their viewpoint confirmed. I have a friend who watches Fox News. He says he doesn’t really pay much attention to the border crisis, or reporting on what’s happened in the world. “What do you watch for, then?” I asked. His reply: “I love it when they make fun of Nancy Pelosi.”
Fox isn’t even covering the lawsuit
The network’s most loyal viewers probably don’t know much about the Dominion lawsuit because Fox hasn’t covered it. Last weekend, Howard Kurtz, who has a weekly show on Fox News about media, revealed that he would love to talk about the lawsuit, but Fox executives had banned him from discussing it. According to the Washington Post, Kurtz said, “Some of you have been asking why I’m not covering the Dominion voting machines lawsuit against Fox involving the unproven claims of election fraud in 2020, and it’s an absolutely fair question. I believe I should be covering it. It’s a major media story, given my role here at Fox. But the company has decided that as part of the organization being sued, I can’t talk about it or write about it, at least for now.”
Unbelievable. The network that wouldn’t shut up about Dominion in the wake of the 2020 election now won’t let anyone talk about it.
The court papers make abundantly clear that all Fox executives and anchors cared about was keeping their viewers happy so they wouldn’t flee to even wackier right-wing networks.
Murdoch’s comments are outrageous
The further revelations this week from Rupert Murdoch’s deposition shows the callous disregard for any journalistic standards at Fox. Court papers filed by Dominion say Murdoch leaked Biden campaign ads to Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, giving Trump insight into Biden strategy before the ads aired. If true, why would any non-Republican candidate ever buy an ad on Fox?
Murdoch also said in a deposition that Fox News kept having the My Pillow guy on to spew his election-stealing claims because of how much money Mr. Pillow spent on ads at Fox. In a court filing released this week, Murdoch said in a deposition, “The man is on every night. Pays us a lot of money.” He’s their largest advertiser. It goes without saying that nobody should get interviewed on a legitimate news channel because of how much he spends on ads. Ethical news organizations have a high wall between news and sales. Unethical news organizations let advertisers buy their way into news interviews.
Whether Dominion prevails in court or not, the court filings go a long way to puncturing any air of legitimacy at Fox News. Fox is still America’s most watched cable news outlet, so I can only conclude millions of viewers are there for a different reason than journalism.
At least when I suspend rational thought to enjoy a baseball game, no one dies and our democracy isn’t threatened.
Please enjoy some other writers in the Iowa Writers’ Collaborative:
The Washington Post just ran a story reporting that an analysis of the top 26 conservative television outlets, newspapers, podcasts and newsletters showed only four had ever even mentioned the Dominion lawsuit. If someone would ask a consumer of conservative media about the lawsuit they would have no idea that Fox personalities privately admitted they did not believe what they were saying on air. Houston, we have a problem.
Great story Dave. But, probably preaching to the choir. Will try to get my father-in-law to read. But he’s a Fox fan & has a couple of pillows. Thanks for keeping the facts out there.