March 3, 2024

real culprits

IMMEDIATE RELEASE 11 February 2021WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUNDToday’s Events in Historical PerspectiveAmerica’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932The real culpritsBy Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift          WASHINGTON—Democrats are making the case that Donald Trump is “singularly responsible” for the riot that breached the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. He certainly bears unique blame for what happened, and he will carry the stain of that day into history although legacy does not appear to be a motivator for him. Yet the real culprit is Rupert Murdoch, the Australian-born media mogul who turned over his signature megaphone to the lies and conspiracy theories that helped launch Trump.          Without Fox News and the right-wing media infrastructure it spawned, the Capitol insurrection wouldn’t have happened. Trump gets his information and his inspiration from Fox News, and when Fox called Arizona for Joe Biden, the first network to do so, Trump was furious. Until then he was Fox’s biggest fan – and their primetime hosts returned the love. One of them, Sean Hannity, even took the stage at a Trump rally.          Hannity was on the phone to Trump so often that White House aides considered him a shadow chief of staff. He’s who Trump listened to along with a whole collection of Fox News personalities. Trump reluctantly and rarely read intelligence reports prepared for him or listened to experts.          When the pandemic was getting out of hand, he latched on to what he heard radiologist Dr. Scott Atlas say about achieving herd immunity, which was to open the economy and let people get infected. Trump brought Atlas into the White House where for a time he was the lead doctor on the Coronavirus Task Force. The death rate was manageable, Atlas said, a view that was totally discredited.          There will always be extremists across the political spectrum. The problem is that Trump gave them a voice, and when Trump said he won the election and it was stolen from him, a lot of people – his people – believed him. And Fox spread the big lie. The two longtime Fox employees on duty on election night who made the call for Biden were fired for telling the truth.          Who is more guilty for the big lie — Trump or Fox? Trump floated the idea beginning in July of 2020 that the election would be rigged if he didn’t win. He demonized mail-in ballots as Fox spread the word and aired his rallies and after the election touted the multiple bogus lawsuits that Rudy Giuliani and other attorneys with regular gigs on Fox news brought before the courts.          Well, the day of reckoning may be drawing near. A $2.7 billion lawsuit for defamation has been filed against Fox News and several of its hosts by Smartmatic, a voting machine company that Fox regularly cited as being implicated in the widespread fraud Trump was allegedly fighting. It was all a big lie, and Fox conceded as much by firing one of its most notorious hosts, Lou Dobbs, the day after the lawsuit was filed.          Fox is asking that the suit be dismissed, but legal analysts say that is unlikely since it has factual merit and is not frivolous. The Smartmatic suit follows two others filed last month by Dominion Voting Systems, one against Giuliani and the other against lawyer and Fox contributor Sidney Powell for the “viral disinformation campaign” they waged, spreading lies about the presidential election and endangering the lives and livelihoods of the company’s employees.          Murdoch is not personally named in these lawsuits. He can hide behind the corporate veil. But If these lawsuits succeed in forcing Fox to take responsibility for spreading lies, it could be a critical first step for Republicans to reclaim their party from the liars and hucksters and put the grand back into the Grand Old Party—either that or follow the lead of more than 100 party leaders who are contemplating the formation of a new party.          Douglas Cohn’s latest books are World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers) and The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency.          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn          © 2020 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.          END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND


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