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Schumer, Jeffries to Fox: Knock off the Propaganda

The right-wing argument—pioneered by Rush Limbaugh in particular—that "the media" is in the bag for the Democrats has afforded Fox quite a bit of armor. Members of the blue team have been a little skittish about attacking the channel directly, or even about refusing to appear on its programming. Thanks to the Dominion case, however, those days may be over.

Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) sent a sharply worded letter to Fox's four grand sachems: Fox Corporation Chairman Rupert and CEO Lachlan Murdoch, and Fox Media CEO Suzanne Scott and president and executive editor Jay Wallace. You can read the complete letter here, but it's the last three paragraphs where all the juice is:

We demand that you direct Tucker Carlson and other hosts on your network to stop spreading false election narratives and admit on the air that they were wrong to engage in such negligent behavior.

As evidenced by the January 6 insurrection, spreading this false propaganda could not only embolden supporters of the Big Lie to engage in further acts of political violence, but also deeply and broadly weakens faith in our democracy and hurts our country in countless other ways.

Fox News executives and all other hosts on your network have a clear choice. You can continue a pattern of lying to your viewers and risking democracy or move beyond this damaging chapter in your company's history by siding with the truth and reporting the facts. We ask that you make sure Fox News ceases disseminating the Big Lie and other election conspiracy theories on your network.

It is not a secret that Fox is a propaganda organization. That was the central point of the documentary Outfoxed, and that film came out nearly two decades ago. What is new is Democratic leadership being willing to use the p-word openly.

The Foxers have no great options here. If they admit to their misdeeds and apologize, Democrats will say, "See? Even Fox's top brass admits they lie about major news stories." And if they don't apologize, Democrats will say "See? Even when they are caught red-handed, they won't tell the truth or make it right. What other stories are they lying about that we don't know because there's no major court case?"

In any case, many politicians and mainstream media sources have been cowed by claims of left-wing bias and/or being in "the woke bubble." These things do exist, but their extent has been grossly overstated. More importantly, these alleged problems have led many prominent people, both in politics and media, to bend over backwards in service of bothsidesism, the notion that there are two (or more) valid perspectives on any story. Sometimes that is just not true. Further, hiring a gaggle of token conservatives to write op-eds (as the Washington Post) just did about a month ago, does not necessarily mean that your publication is being fairer, or more balanced, or is broadening readers' prospectives. There aren't many Charles Krauthammers and William Safires left anymore. The Hugh Hewitts and Marc Thiessens of the world are propagandizing just as much when they write for the Post as they are when they (frequently) appear on Fox.

Anyhow, if the Fox scandal causes Democratic politicians to think twice about giving Fox more oxygen, and it causes media outlets to commit to covering reasonable and/or well-supported perspectives (which might well be conservative) as opposed to just "right-wing perspectives," our view is that will be a step in the right direction. And that might just happen, now that Fox has been caught with its hands in the cookie jar, and has laid bare for all to see that claims of being "fair and balanced" were not made in good faith.

And on that note, today's post happens to have quite a bit of criticism of Republican politicians. We think it's fair criticism, and that we've justified the points we've made. Nonetheless, if that's not your bag, you might want to stop reading here. Alternatively, if you think we've been unfair or are misguided, you know how to reach us. (Z)

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