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Fox News’ Love Affair with The Donald

| Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Donald Trump is a man of some seriously, for lack of a better term, depraved sexual values. His nuptial history is marred with the ruins of two failed spousal commitments and a reportedly polluted third marriage that only gets worse by the day. Twenty-three women have accused the president of sexual misconduct, assault, harassment, etc. since the 1970s. It is rumored that Russian intelligence is in possession of a video of The Donald engaging in a ritualistic ‘golden shower’ (since this “pee tape” has yet to be released or even affirmed in existence, one can only cringe in speculation regarding the anatomical arrangement necessary for successful execution of such an event). Trump World Tower’s ex-doorman is quoted claiming that Trump secretly fathered a child with one of the property’s housekeepers. And, oh, let’s not forget about the Stormy Daniels incident.

These sexual incidents (both of the consensual and non-consensual nature), though, pale in comparison to the prodigious experience that has been Donald J. Trump’s extramarital affair with Fox News Network. Like all great love stories, the relationship of these two star-crossed lovers winds down a romantic embankment of an archetypal love narrative. It begins with ‘love at first sight,’ proceeds into a period of cunning wit in an attempt to hide the budding romance from friends and coworkers and family and then culminates into an explosion of scandal as the relationship is exposed. In this case, though, the relationship between this Manhattan elite and the news network most popular amongst conservative retirees has transgressed with its creation of an illegitimate, cranky, brainwashed love child: the new American conservative.

Let’s trace the trajectory of this symbiotically corrupt relationship. The Donald’s history with Fox News starts in 2011, when he was given a weekly slot on Fox and Friends. Long before the billionaire expressed his ambition for attaining political office, he was known at Fox News as “bold, brash and never bashful” (a reputation that has only followed him into his political career). Achieved in this first step in his relationship with Fox News (and, more importantly, his relationship with Rupert Murdoch, the now-disgraced patriarch of Fox News) was love at first sight. Donald Trump was offered an outlet for his narcissistic delusions of political clout and, in exchange, he offered Fox News an entertainment value and ratings boost. By peddling his favorite conspiracy (the racist ‘birther’ conspiracy) he achieved notoriety amongst conservative circles and allowed Fox News to indirectly endorse racism without the accompanying social backlash.

During the 2016 campaign, this love at first sight blossomed into a beautiful bromance between Donald Trump and Rupert Murdoch (one that has followed Trump into the White House with weekly Oval Office conference calls between the pair). Sunday, it was reported by The New Yorker that Fox News (and Rupert Murdoch, personally) conspired to bury a Fox reporter’s story regarding the hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels as the 2016 election campaign neared its end, as Clinton and Trump were polling neck-and-neck. It was also reported that Donald Trump was fed debate questions by Roger Ailes (also a disgraced Fox News sexual harasser and abuser) before the first Republican Nominee debate of the 2016 election cycle.

Pairing these two incidents with Fox News’ disproportionately and maliciously favorable coverage of Trump before, during, and after the 2016 campaign can only lead to one deduction: that Fox News systematically conspired to sway its viewers to support Donald Trump. But why?

Fox News, as a capitalist enterprise, would never have sacrificed money for such a symbiotically corrupt relationship with Trump. There must have been, if not in discussion, a reasonable unspoken expectation of economic reward for Fox News. Propping up such a controversial figure for the presidency would only happen if it was profitable.

And since Trump’s inauguration (and even before), that profit has only rained down: manna in the desert. Donald Trump is a ratings machine. Since his inauguration (to the end of 2018), The Donald has appeared on Fox News 41 times. Fox News viewership ratings in 2018 were the highest in 22 years and, heading into the 2018 midterm elections, Fox News ratings were higher than CNN and MSNBC combined.

As if the viewership and subsequent economic reward reaped by Fox News through this symbiotically corrupt relationship with Trump wasn’t enough, questions are looming regarding 21st Century Fox’s potential acquisition of Disney. The Justice Department and Trump’s administration has been warily quiet about the breech of anti-trust law this deal proposes. Even Brazil’s antitrust regulator has raised concerns about this deal, something that can’t be said of Trump’s administration or any of its contingencies. The corruption smells for miles.

With a haphazard mountain of evidence already confirmed (and only growing daily), the true nature of Trump’s relationship with Fox News has been exposed. Donald Trump actively seeks to endorse Fox News and its contributors (evidenced through his constant validation via Twitter and job offers extended to past Fox News employees) and with this endorsement brings Fox News higher ratings and economic prosperity. In exchange, Fox News legitimizes his presidency through favorable coverage, unwavering loyalty in news cycles, and selective reporting to manipulate its viewers.

The worst part of it all? The true victim of this symbiotically corrupt relationship (beyond the American democracy) is its confused, manipulated and brainwashed love child: Fox News viewers. To the detriment of American democratic norms and institutions, these viewers have become Trump’s unwavering base and adamant believers. They see the Donald Trump presidency in a completely different light than the rest of the world (even differently than independent American voters). It’s fairly easy to identify the reason for such hyper-partisan divide in our country. No matter how often Donald Trump says it, this hyper-partisanship cannot be traced to antagonistic coverage of Trump by the ‘enemy of the people’ (understood to be mainstream, non-Fox media). In fact, quite the opposite is true. The most watched news source in America has shed its credibility in exchange for a new role in Trump’s administration: the de facto head of its Ministry of Enlightenment and Propaganda.  

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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