If you ever doubted the danger of FOX News, it’s spelled out in Brian Stelter’s new book, “Hoax.” Stelter, a former New York Times reporter, is CNN’s media critic and he finds plenty to criticize in “Hoax.”
Here are some of the main points:
Is FOX News a news network?
One of the main problems with FOX News Channel (FNC) is that it’s propaganda masquerading as news. It’s not objective, and designed to take a stand that supports right-wing views. According to Stelter, FNC does have a news division, but that’s overshadowed by the opinion division, on-air personalities such as Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and Jeanine Pirro. They’re the ones who get all the big ratings.
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“Hoax” details how FNC eventually becomes more pro-opinion to the point where real journalists, such as Shep Smith, are forced out of the network. The problem with FOX News is that many people can’t tell the difference between the news side and the opinion side. Many Americans think Hannity and Carlson are journalists because they appear on TV and comment on the news. But neither of them adhere to journalistic standards. And in many cases, don’t even care about being accurate.
Trump leans on people like Hannity and xenophobe Lou Dobbs for advice. There are all kinds of problems with this. For example, if Trump asks Hannity for advice on state affairs, he’s probably sharing classified information.
The FOX News/White House link.
FOX News and the Trump White House are joined together like Siamese twins. They practically share the same nervous system and organs. It’s impossible to tell where FNC begins and the Trump administration ends.
Stelter details several examples of the incestuous relationship between the two groups. Trump hires several people straight off FOX News. For example, Bill Shine, Larry Kudlow and Heather Nauert, who was considered for a position in the State Department because Trump thought “she looked the part.” But even more disturbing, Trump leans on Hannity and xenophobe Lou Dobbs for advice.
There are all kinds of problems with this. For example, if Trump asks Hannity for advice on state affairs, he’s probably also sharing classified information. And I’m pretty sure Hannity, a college dropout who’s spent most of his working life in radio, doesn’t have the experience or the clearance for that.
It’s not surprising that Stelter reports that at least two FOX News staffers found monitoring software on their phones. It was likely installed by hostile powers who wanted to hear what Trump was blabbing about. It’s scary enough to think that an unhinged, racist conman has the keys to the nuclear arsenal, but now we find Sean Hannity is counseling him!
The FOX News white nationalist streak.
Stelter spends several sections of the book describing racist comments spewed by FOX News staffers. Fingers are pointed at Carlson, a neo-Nazi, and Pirro, who goes on a lengthy on-air Islamophobic rant. The book details how this makes life intolerable for Muslims who work for FOX. Other FOX News employees are embarrassed to be associated with a network that promotes white nationalism.
However, FOX News executives refrain from cracking down on their top stars, because they’re too valuable. And Trump spends hours watching this. So next time the Trump administration comes up with it’s latest racist policy, you know where they got the idea.
And if racism wasn't bad enough, some FOX News staffers behave like high school bullies. Stelter says when he met Hannity at a party, he called him “Humpty,” his official FOX News nickname. Stelter also received a box of doughnuts from Carlson, a jibe about his weight. How old are these people?
FOX News is dangerous.
However, the most damning part of the book is the last chapter, “Crisis.” Here Stelter describes how Trump bungled handling the coronavirus pandemic because he listened to FOX News instead of government medical experts. FOX News also screwed up the COVID-19 crisis by putting out mixed messages. For months they joked and downplayed the virus, but at the same time, the network ordered its stars to work remotely.
FOX News was warned of the lethality of the virus back in March, yet they urged their viewers to head back to work. The callousness of that act is stunning. FNC wanted the rubes to go back to work, while their anchors were holed up in their vacation homes. It doesn’t get much more hypocritical than that. I always knew the network was designed to get working-class people to vote against their interests; I didn’t think it also wanted to send them to their deaths!
In “Hoax,” Stelter brands FOX News as a “disinformation network.” And those false messages got thousands of Americans killed.