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Fox News: Guardian Of The Trump Echo Chamber

The network, which markets itself as "Fair and Balanced," is also dead-set against covering any of the scandals enveloping the Trump White House, writes Steve Almond. In this photo, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway is interviewed by Howard Kurtz during a taping of his "MediaBuzz" program, on the Fox News Channel, in New York Friday, March 10, 2017. (Richard Drew/AP)
The network, which markets itself as "Fair and Balanced," is also dead-set against covering any of the scandals enveloping the Trump White House, writes Steve Almond. In this photo, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway is interviewed by Howard Kurtz during a taping of his "MediaBuzz" program, on the Fox News Channel, in New York Friday, March 10, 2017. (Richard Drew/AP)
This article is more than 2 years old.

Over the past fortnight, our new president has behaved in ways that appear intended to torpedo his administration.

How else might one explain his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, the man leading the investigation into the alleged collusion between his campaign and Russia? Or his decision to brag about this firing to top Russian officials in the Oval Office? Or his decision to announce, on national TV — and in direct contradiction to the talking points mouthed by his various spokespeople — that he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation?

And that’s not even mentioning the ethical questions swirling around his financial conflicts of interest, his hiring and firing of former National Security Advisor — and registered foreign agent — Michael Flynn, or his bizarre and baseless accusation that Barack Obama tapped his phones.

This is what Fox has been reduced to in the era of Trump. They often have to pretend that the president and his ongoing disasters simply don’t exist.

It can be exhausting, and disheartening, to watch Trump trash the dignity the presidency day after day. For those seeking refuge, here’s a little tip: check out Fox News.

You see, while our lamestream journalists feel a duty to document the corruption and ineptitude of our new president, over at the Fair & Balanced network, they’ve taken a different approach: to say as little as possible about the train wreck they engineered.

Last Tuesday night, for instance, news broke that Trump had shared highly classified intelligence with the Russians who yukked it up with him in the Oval Office the day after he fired Comey. What did Fox host Tucker Carlson have to say about this? Next to nothing. In fact, he devoted more time on his 8 p.m. show to a segment on the joys of the RompHim, a Romper for men.

This is what Fox has been reduced to in the era of Trump. They often have to pretend that the president and his ongoing disasters simply don’t exist.

Instead, we get hard-hitting stories about a rapper who joined ISIS, and the evils of Obamacare, and a retired democratic lawmaker found guilty of tax evasion.

When the network does actually engage with Trump scandals, its most popular hosts wind up parroting the president’s own persecution complex about “liberal media hysteria.”

President-elect Donald Trump, right, is interviewed by Chris Wallace of "Fox News Sunday" at Trump Tower in New York, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016. (Richard Drew/ AP)
President-elect Donald Trump, right, is interviewed by Chris Wallace of "Fox News Sunday" at Trump Tower in New York, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016. (Richard Drew/ AP)

This is hard to take seriously, given that Fox has made its entire reputation — and its revenues — by retailing anti-liberal hysteria.

But what choice does the network have? It served as Trump’s most popular media cheerleader during the campaign, always willing to provide the candidate a safe space to spout his baseless allegations, to float his Ponzi scheme promises, and to normalize his misogynistic bluster.

Now that Trump is in power, they have to figure how to champion a president who is, by any objective standard, a disaster, one whose approval rating is already lower than any president in modern history.

This is not to suggest that Fox News has become any less influential in our political climate. Just the opposite. In fact, Fox may be the only thing standing between Trump and impeachment.

Fox may be the only thing standing between Trump and impeachment.

See, nearly half of all Trump voters get their news from Fox. The network is, in essence, the guardian of the Trump echo chamber. Where its hosts once provided a safe space for Trump, they now provide a safe space for his base, a media environment where the president’s faults and failures are faithfully presented as someone else’s fault.

And it is the loyalty of this base — the sort of folks who despise establishment politicians and vote in primaries — that has, thus far, kept congressional Republicans from turning on Trump.

Four months into his term, Trump has already taken at least three actions that could trigger an indictment for obstruction of justice.

But you won’t hear much about them on Fox News. The network has its marching orders for as long as Trump remains in office: obstruction of reality.

Related:

Steve Almond Twitter Cognoscenti contributor
Steve Almond's new book, "Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country," is now available. He hosts the Dear Sugars podcast with Cheryl Strayed.

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