IMMEDIATE RELEASE 1 July 2022WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUNDToday’s Events in Historical PerspectiveAmerica’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932 Walter, Cassidy, and RupertBy Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift WASHINGTON — When CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite turned against the war in Vietnam following the enemy’s Tet Offensive in early 1968, the war was over. Cronkite was the most respected name in journalism at the time, and once he rendered his verdict, public support was gone. The offensive launched in early 1968 was a costly tactical failure, but a strategic victory, a fact understood by Cronkite who broadcast that it “seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate.” Today, Rupert Murdoch, the Australian-turned-American power behind Fox News, may not be the most respected name in journalism, but he is certainly the most powerful. And following Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony before the House of Representatives 1/6 Committee any doubt Murdoch may have had about the committee’s findings was probably laid to rest. Hutchinson, a former White House aide, spoke in unsparing detail about former President Donald Trump’s desperate and likely illegal attempts to hold onto power. If Murdoch turns against Trump – the presidency he helped create and perpetuate – a Trump’s public standing will be so eroded that any hope of returning to the White House or continuing as a Republican leader will be gone. Murdoch is not noted for backing losers or remaining loyal to criminals. If he sees Trump falling out of favor, he’s going to drop him like any other bad investment. What Hutchinson said and how she said it in a calm, convincing manner impacted Fox News coverage of the hearing. Fox’s daytime hosts kept their programs studiously neutral and noted that some of what she said about the ex-president’s trying to wrestle away the steering wheel of the presidential SUV so he could join the rioters at the Capitol on 1/6 was being disputed. But Fox didn’t spare its viewers from the potential criminality of Trump’s actions that day and in the days leading up to the violent attack. This is an indication that Murdoch’s Fox News and increasing numbers of Republicans are starting to peel off the Trump bandwagon thanks in part to what we’re learning about the ex-president’s active involvement in a coup to overturn an election and disrupt the peaceful transition of power, the hallmark of a democratic society. There was further evidence in last Tuesday’s primaries that Trump’s hold on the electorate is weakening. In Colorado, Republicans running for the Senate, governor’s office, and secretary of state all won races against Trump-endorsed election deniers. Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony was earthshattering in the portrait she revealed of a president willing to do anything to retain power and the men around him whose warnings of potentially illegal acts fell on deaf ears. These men, and we know who they are, ultimately went along as best they could and then stayed silent about the deranged president. Bob Woodward of Watergate fame said that Hutchinson wrote Trump’s “political obituary.” Others have said this is a “John Dean moment,” in the sense that a knowledgeable, believable, and sympathetic witness has come forward to tell the story of a president committing criminal acts. Those of us who lived through Watergate remember Dean’s attractive wife, Maureen, sitting silently and stoically while her husband told the story to a country riveted on every word of his telling that there was a cancer on Richard Nixon’s presidency. In Hutchinson, we witnessed the incarnation and remarkable composure of John and Maureen Dean all in one person. She was a 24-years-old intern when Chief-of-Staff Mark Meadows handpicked her to be a trusted White House staffer privy to the highest-level conversations between Trump, his aides, and his family, Her most chilling revelation came when she testified that Trump ordered the magnetometers to be deactivated so people could bring weapons to his White House rally because they weren’t there to hurt him. These same people broke into the Capitol, and in this, there is the specter of criminality for Trump, a fact Fox News hosts acknowledged. History may write that the assault on the Capitol was Trump’s Tet Offensive and Murdoch was his Cronkite. See Eleanor Clift’s latest book Selecting a President, and Douglas Cohn’s latest books The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency and World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers). Twitter: @douglas_cohn © 2022 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc. Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
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