The Left’s War on Fox News
Jeffrey Lord
by
Professor Todd Gitlin in 2017 (YouTube screenshot)

It’s war.

The American Left, in full-throated fascist mode, is trying to bring down Fox News. No lie is big enough to use. The coronavirus crisis is not to be wasted.

Let’s start with this gem from the New York Times. The headline:

Alarm, Denial, Blame: The Pro-Trump Media’s Coronavirus Distortion

Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing commentators turned a pandemic into a battle of us vs. them — the kind of battle President Trump has waged for much of his life.

Hello? From the moment Donald Trump was elected, the American Left and all of its assorted media outlets made it their business to target the new president. Like the Aesop fable of the shepherd boy who cried wolf, the media spent the first three years shrieking about Trump–Russia “collusion.” When that failed, it was Ukraine. Which led to impeachment.

The constant thread here was indeed “a battle of us vs. them” — the “us” in this case every Trump-hater in the liberal media, the Times perhaps first and foremost in the lynch mob. The “them” was — and is — Fox News, conservative talk radio, and conservative media in general.

Recall that a while back, the Times’ executive editor, Dean Baquet, held an internal town hall meeting with the paper’s staff. Someone had a tape recorder or iPhone audio whirring away and leaked the session to Slate. And there is Mr. Baquet saying this:

It got trickier after [inaudible] … went from being a story about whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia and obstruction of justice to being a more head-on story about the president’s character. We built our newsroom to cover one story, and we did it truly well.

Got that? There is the executive editor of the New York Times freely and proudly admitting — boasting — that for the first three years of the Trump presidency the Times “built our newsroom to cover one story, and we did it truly well.”

And when that story failed to produce the desired result of ending the Trump presidency, the paper and other Leftist State Media outlets moved on to Ukraine — and impeachment. Here, for example, is the paper’s statement from its editorial board in December 2019 that had a one-word title:

Impeach

This too was a massive failure.

But the point is obvious. After all this time shrieking daily about Trump–Russia collusion and then about the need to impeach him for a phone call to the president of Ukraine, the paper and its left-wing allies can’t understand why conservatives viewed their virus coverage as just one more get-Trump moment. Really? When you go out of your way to destroy your own credibility — as the Times and a whole flotilla of liberal media outlets have done — it should not be surprised that nothing they say is believed.

Amazingly the paper plots out the steps the “pro-Trump” media has used in its supposed “Coronavirus Distortion.”

The first reads:

Step 1: Blame China

This section said, among other things, this:

In January and early February, when the virus ravaged China and doubts grew about how forthcoming Chinese officials were being, some pundits on the right warned that the country couldn’t be trusted to contain the outbreak or share accurate information about where it originated.

And what, exactly, was incorrect about this? In fact, “Chinese officials” did not “contain the outbreak.” The virus is now officially a global pandemic, which, by definition, means it has not been contained. And as to not trusting whether “accurate information” was coming from the Chinese, in fact the Times does link to its own earlier story that says exactly that. Not to mention this very week there was this headline at Bloomberg:

China Concealed Extent of Virus Outbreak, U.S. Intelligence Says

The Times story also says that “Fox News became a launching pad for the idea of halting travel from China…. ” And?

Here is Dr. Anthony Fauci on the subject:

One of the things we did right was very early cut off travel from China to the United States. Because outside of China, where it originated, the countries in the world that have it are through travel, either directly from China or indirectly from someone who went someplace and then came to that particular country.

Not to be forgotten either is that when President Trump restricted travel from China the Times assailed the move this way in a story headlined,

Who Says It’s Not Safe to Travel to China?

The coronavirus travel ban is unjust and doesn’t work anyway.

The story said,

Sadly, one doesn’t have to look far for evidence of these top-down decisions morphing into outright racism within the general population, a trend that has a long history in the narrative of outbreaks such as this one.

Got it. The travel ban, according to the Times, was racist.

Perhaps the height of elitist liberal anti-Fox News propaganda in the middle of all this came in this letter from a collection of left-wing professors and journalists.

The open letter to Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch and the company CEO, Lachlan Murdoch, was organized by longtime far-left activist and Columbia Journalism School Professor Todd Gitlin. The letter says, in part, this:

But viewers of Fox News, including the president of the United States, have been regularly subjected to misinformation relayed by the network — false statements downplaying the prevalence of COVID-19 and its harms; misleading recommendations of activities that people should undertake to protect themselves and others, including casual recommendations of untested drugs; false assessments of the value of measures urged upon the public by their elected political leadership and public health authorities.…

Yet by commission as well as omission — direct, uncontested misinformation as well as failure to report the true dimensions of the crisis — Fox News has been derelict in its duty to provide clear and accurate information about COVID-19. As the virus spread across the world, Fox News hosts and guests minimized the dangers, accusing Democrats and the media of inflating the dangers (in Sean Hannity’s words) to “bludgeon Trump with this new hoax.” Such commentary encouraged President Trump to trivialize the threat and helped obstruct national, state, and local efforts to limit the coronavirus.…

Inexcusably, Fox News has violated elementary canons of journalism. In so doing, it has contributed to the spread of a grave pandemic. Urgently, therefore, in the name of both good journalism and public health, we call upon you to help protect the lives of all Americans — including your elderly viewers — by ensuring that the information you deliver is based on scientific facts.

What utter rubbish, not to mention dangerous nonsense. Where were these people when the far-left “media watchdog” Media Matters was featuring this headline on January 27?

Fox News fearmongers about coronavirus with dubiously sourced viral video

The story said this:

On January 27, Fox News’ Fox & Friends ran two segments promoting what the network called “a Chinese nurse … blowing the whistle on Twitter” and claimed the coronavirus infection rate is “33 times [higher than] what Chinese officials are reporting.” Co-host Brian Kilmeade, in an interview with Dr. Mehmet Oz, said that the outbreak is “happening in this secretive society where candor is secondary, and we’re seeing clues that this is so much worse.”

Accompanying this story of Fox “fearmongers” was a screenshot of the Fox report, with the chyron underneath quite clearly reading:

5 Cases of Coronavirus Now Confirmed in the U.S.

The Gitlin letter to Fox brazenly said, “The basic purpose of news organizations is to discover and tell the truth.”

Exactly. Which is what Fox was doing with that story. And which is something the liberal media has failed utterly to do in the Trump era.

And so, they get defensive. Here is Axios editor Jim VandeHei as headlined at Mediaite:

Axios Editor Blames Fox News and Rush Limbaugh For Red States Being ‘Slow to Respond’ to Coronavirus

Got it? The actions of this or that Red State governor are because they listen to Fox and Rush.

Here is the game for all these Fox haters. Use this moment of the virus pandemic to trash the network and its hosts as “fearmongers” … because they were reporting accurately and early on the spread of the virus. And when the virus arrives and the impeachment frenzy has now ended — with the media finally focused on a serious problem — they bash the network for “failure to report the true dimensions of the crisis.” Right.

This is what William F. Buckley Jr. correctly called the “liberal mania.” It is intolerant, the height of irrationality when confronted with dissent from the sacraments of the liberal world.

Make no mistake. What’s happening here is easy to understand. The Left is using the pandemic to try to shut down Fox News and its various show hosts. The first goal is to silence Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and Laura Ingraham at minimum — but at maximum the goal is to dispatch Fox News itself — period.

It won’t work.

And thank God for that.

Jeffrey Lord
Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com. His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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