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Moving to eliminate any remaining vestiges of a news operation, Rupert Murdoch's Fox network summarily fired two political newsroom veterans this week. The heavy-handed move was seen as punishment for when the channel angered Trump loyalists on Election Night by correctly calling Arizona for Joe Biden.
Out are senior vice president and D.C. managing editor Bill Sammon, and politics editor Chris Stirewalt. The "purge," as network staffers have called it and included nearly 20 digital staffers, represents yet another confirmation that Fox News no longer pretends to be a journalistic outpost. Instead, facing new competition from the extreme far-right, the network eagerly sinks deeper into partisan, conspiratorial propaganda. And that's why the network doesn't deserve to have White House credentials for the new Democratic administration.
It's simple: Fox News isn't a newsgathering organization, therefore it does not need White House access. Giving them prestigious White House press passes just delays the much-needed Beltway discussion about the crooked network and its place in our political culture.
Today, it’s not possible for anyone in the press to make the argument that Fox News is a legitimate outlet. Dripping in demagoguery, the network doesn't even pretend any more. Last year, Shep Smith left when it became clear his 3 p.m. newscast was no longer welcome there. "I stuck with it for as long as I could and at some point I realized I’d reached a point of diminishing returns and I left," he recently said.
"There is a concerted effort to get rid of real journalists," one departed Fox staffer told the Daily Beast, referring to the recent firings. "They laid capable people off who were actual journalists and not blind followers. It’s essentially the final nail in the coffin for digital journalism at Fox.” The week's purge comes as Sean Hannity's former producer, Porter Berry, takes control of running Fox's digital properties.
The sackings came one week after Fox News jettisoned it's 7 p.m. "news" slot and is in the process of handing it over to hosts who echoe lies for a living, like Maria Bartiromo, who last week told viewers that Antifa had dressed up like Trump supporters and staged the murderous insurrection on January 6, when the mob chanted "Hang Mike Pence."
The switch at the 7 p.m. time slot was made because Murdoch's network has been losing ground to cable channels that are even more sycophantic about Trump than is Fox: NewsmaxTV and OAN. In response to new marketplace pressures, "network executives are taking steps to increase Fox's reliance on incendiary right-wing propaganda, while weakening the internal faction that had at least a nominal commitment to reality," writes Matt Gertz at Media Matters. "The result will be a race to the bottom of the fever swamp, as Fox competes with its rivals for viewers by promoting ever-more-unhinged conspiracy theories and using increasingly apocalyptic rhetoric that encourages more violent insurrections."
That's why there's no reason for Fox News to be waved inside the White House every day.
It's revealing that Fox News' purge centers around the network's Election Night call, because it represents an unavoidable conflict for the network, which had to choose facts or fantasy. During the campaign, Fox News wallowed in Trump lies and misinformation about the contest possibly being "rigged," and that "corrupt Democrats" would try to "steal" the contest. That was the pleasing tale for the network tell to overexcited Trump viewers. But Election Night is all about counting votes. And when the voters were tallied Trump lost, which Fox News was forced to report. That set off a flashpoint of anger and contempt from both Trump and his fanatical followers, leaving Fox News in a bind —adhere to the election facts, or wallow in the Trump fantasy?
This week, the fantasy wing won out as Stirewalt and Sammon, hardcore Republicans and longtime members of the conservative media opinion industry, became the fall guys. They were shown the door, guilty of accurately counting election results. Fox News, by its own choice, now stands completely exposed for what it is — a cancer on this country. And there’s no way it deserves press credentials for the Biden White House.
Keep in mind, the newsroom purge comes after the network spent 2020 spreading nonstop lies and misinformation about a national health crisis, then shifted into a relentless attack on free and fair elections in America, ceaselessly echoing Trump's lies. Fox Business host Lou Dobbs demanded Trump to take “drastic action” to overturn the results, and warned that there “will not be a quiet surrender” if the results weren’t overturned. After Biden was declared the winner in November, Fox New cast doubt on the election results nearly 800 times — in just two weeks.
It was a stunning record of purposeful deceit that should not be rewarded by the new Democratic administration.
(photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Great news, via Associated Press', "Biden Cleans House at VOA After Revolt Over Trump Changes." Trump has done his best to eviscerate the government-run Voice of America by firing talented journalists and bringing in right-wing propagandists. That sad chapter is now over.
From the AP:
The Biden administration has moved quickly to remove a number of senior officials aligned with former President Donald Trump from the Voice of America and the agency that oversees all U.S.-funded international broadcasting.
The actions address fears that the U.S. Agency for Global Media was being turned into a pro-Trump propaganda outlet. The agency announced Thursday that VOA’s director and his deputy had been removed from their positions and that the head of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting had resigned.
FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK
Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard, "Undivided"
You might've seen this song performed on the Biden/Harris inauguration special Wednesday night. It's an Americana toe-tapper with an overdue message.
I think it's time to come together
You and I can make a change
Maybe we can make a difference
Make the world a better place
Look around and love somebody
We've been hateful long enough
Let the Good Lord reunite us
'Til this country that we love's