Op-Ed: Fox News is Fixed News

Photo Via SFGN

The Fox News team is a ray of sunshine in these troubling times. Their anchors, staff and reporters light up a room like a 15-watt bulb.

My grandmother used to teach me that “half a truth is a whole lie.” Each hour and every day, Fox News proves that it is the Fixed News, delivering whole lies instead of hard truths.  

In one report last Sunday, a Fox news reported that ‘8,600 Americans had recovered from the corona virus’ They said nothing about the lives lost. Astounding

If the guys who ran this station were captains of the Titanic, they would go on the sound system to tell the passengers ‘we are making a brief stop to pick up ice.’

The duplicity and deception poisoning the Fox Network is almost reminiscent of a North Korean news network praising the holiness of their leader. They have become America’s state network.

Ironically, even while becoming the President’s toy box, he still criticizes any one of them if they fail to tow his line. He measures them not by integrity and independence, but allegiance and loyalty. It’s frightening.

When a witness goes to take the stand in a courtroom, they put their hand on the Bible and are asked to take an oath. They are asked a simple question: “Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” 

Our courts and our constitution work because we hope the witnesses are honest. If you swear to an oath and lie, it’s perjury. The only reason some Fox hosts are not so charged is because they don’t swear to an oath before they take the air. 

Fox News instead swears to a Neanderthal corporate industrialist with a toxic political agenda. We already know that Donald Trump can’t handle the truth. Rome could be burning, and he will tell you that nobody plays the fiddle like he does. 

Too many Fox News hosts do not question the president. They coronate him. That is not the duty of a newspaperman. You are not supposed to be supplicant to authority and appease it. Your duty is to question it. 

It is simply not okay to report that thousands of Americans have recovered from the corona virus without simultaneously stating that thousands more are dying from it. 

There are hospitals in New York City where refrigerated trucks are lining up to carry bodies away. You don’t cover that up. You cover it.

Finally, someone is attempting to hold Fox News accountable for its misleading representations. There is a Washington state based public interest group that has filed a suit against them for deception. 

The lawsuit claims Fox is repetitively airing false information that is endangering the public safety, and thereby negligently placing listeners and citizens of the state at risk.

The League for Transparency and Ethics in Washington state is seeking an injunction to prevent Fox News from “interfering with reasonable and necessary measures to contain the virus by publishing false and deceptive comments.”

Ironically, it has been Mr. Trump himself who has spent the last three years demanding that the courts make it easier to sue journalists and newspapers, calling for judges to “open up the libel laws.”

From the outset, Fox news hosts mocked the coronavirus as a hoax. They treated the potential pandemic as laughable. While suing them is no easy task either, a court in Washington will have a legitimate shot at holding them accountable for their fake news. 

How is that for irony? What a double whammy would it be if the first defendant with a verdict entered against them for publishing Fake News was Fox News? 

Why not? It can happen. 

If a group of jurors determined a station was interested more in ratings than life, who knows what kind of judgment they will render? Isn’t it about time Fox News paid the piper for being the president’s pimp?

This is not just Norm Kent ranting. Last month, 74 journalism professors and journalists signed an open letter, addressed to Rupert Murdoch, censuring the Fox news network for its dangerous and deceptive coverage of the corona virus crisis. 

The plaintiff’s lawyers want a federal jurist to enjoin them from telling bald-faced lies on the air. They stand a chance of winning. The state of Washington has a Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits deceptive practices “in the conduct of any trade or commerce. 

The legal argument the plaintiffs are making is novel, but not unique. Think about all those tobacco companies getting sued for telling you cigarette smoking was just fine; that you have nothing to worry about. 

A few billion dollars’ worth of judgments later, cigarette manufacturers were taught a lesson. There are warning labels on every carton of cigarettes you buy. Seat belts in every car, too. 

The virus that Fox and its friends say was so meaningless has now claimed 76,500 lives globally, and over 11,000 in the United States to date. The lies on Fox news air hourly. I don’t care how much their hosts smile. It is journalistically abominable.  

One last thing, which probably won’t surprise you. Las month, Donald Trump became the first sitting president ever to file a suit against the New York Times. 

At the start of this pandemic, he has filed a suit against the paper, claiming that it did not cover one of his rallies in Virginia fairly. This is what the man cares about- himself, his whole self, and nothing but himself.

My legal opinion is that Trump’s suit is going nowhere. He won’t be able to meet the constitutional threshold that the paper acted with malice when publishing their report. I won’t mislead you. That may protect Fox news, too.

The standard for proving a newspaper committed libel is you must show that the paper knowingly presenting false information with a reckless disregard for the truth. I happen to think Fox does that every day. Millions of Americans think not. Sadly, they are fixated by the fixed news that is the Fox Network. 

The debate on public issues must be uninhibited, wide-open and robust, not bowing to power. The Trump presidency and his assault on the press poses a threat to our First Amendment freedoms.

 Our government is here to serve us, not the other way around. That is why 240 years ago we fought a revolution against a king. We must now do so again.

 

 


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