David Zurawik: Murdoch’s Fox News seriously doubling down in its allegiance to Trump

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Last week when Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.6 billion defamation suit against Fox News for propagating the lie that the presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump in part with rigged voting machines from Dominion, I wondered whether Fox owner Rupert Murdoch might rethink the business wisdom of wedding his channel’s fortunes to Trump.

Not exactly. Instead it looks like Murdoch is going out of his way to kiss up ever more fervently to the former president.

I am not that concerned about the obvious personnel moves, like the hiring this week of Lara Trump, wife of Eric Trump, one of the former president’s sons, as a contributor. Remember her on the podium with her husband at the “Stop the Steal” rally Jan. 6 that led to the storming of the Capitol? What better way to prove her Fox bona fides? The hiring was announced Monday on “Fox & Friends.”

On Tuesday, Fox announced Kayleigh McEnany, former press secretary for Trump, as one of the co-hosts of “Outnumbered,” which airs midday five days a week on Fox. This is a prime spot for a political operative who pushed Trump’s lies from the lectern of the White House press room in a way and to an extent never seen in a modern-day presidency.

And, you know what, I can even live with her new job on Fox. After all, as I have said time and again, Fox is not a journalistic entity, despite the word “news” in its name. It’s a political tool, one built for right-wing propaganda, so why not hire a lying White House press secretary?

But here’s what does bother me: the way Fox News has been going all-out to oppose almost everything Democratic President Joe Biden does, while still promoting some of the most dangerous lies from Trump, a Republican.

Case in point, Wednesday morning on “Fox & Friends,” Pete Hegseth, a weekend host of the show, was at Dots Diner in Jefferson, Louisiana, talking to some of the customers.

He opened one segment saying, “It does feel like a bit of a new day in some ways because a lot of the COVID restrictions have been lifted just yesterday by the governor, which a lot of people feel great about.”

Hegseth went on to interview three women sitting side by side at two tables pulled together.

Neither Hegseth nor any of the three was wearing a mask.

The headline on the screen said: “Top Issues Facing Americans.”

“As we look at where we are now as country, businesswise and everything, what’s on your mind?” he asked one of the women.

“Oh, I wish we could make America great again,” she said. “We had a really good few years. The economy went up and then we hit that huge puddle called COVID. But we were taking care of it the American way. … Well, now, everything’s changing and I’m worried.”

The American way? How was that, by minimizing and lying about the virus?

She went on to say how terrible a new tax would be and how we can’t afford to be filling our cities with people who need jobs, which I interpreted as a dog whistle against immigration.

This is how real propaganda works. You don’t have to say, “Trump was great, and Biden’s already a disaster.” That’s too obvious. Instead you find someone to say, “Oh, I wish we could make American great again,” and then she says how troubled she is by the way everything is changing with Trump out and Biden in. And it’s just an average American having breakfast at Dots Diner, right?

If you believe that, you are ripe for even more Fox pro-Trump propaganda and lies. Good luck.