Brian Stelter. a CNN Cable News guy is coming out with “Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth….
…..the insider details are believable and often stunning — like ultimate Trump loyalist Sean Hannity reportedly calling Trump “bats—t crazy” when speaking privately.
Or this, from someone identified as a Fox News star: “Trump is like Fox’s Frankenstein. They helped make him and he’s out of control.”
The book’s depiction of the feedback loop between media company and president is undeniable. Media watchers and political insiders see it unfolding day after day, but Stelter pulls it together:
“Trump granted pardons because of Fox. . . . He raged against migrant ‘caravans’ because of Fox. He accused public servants of treason because of Fox. And he got the facts wrong again and again because of mistakes and misreporting by the network,” he writes.
“And then,” he adds, “there was the coronavirus.” Stelter writes about the deep reservations Fox News staffers harbor about the network’s early, mostly dismissive coverage of the pandemic, with some of them calling it “unforgivable” and “hazardous to our viewers.”
I asked Stelter what he found most surprising as he reported the book. (We overlapped briefly when I was the New York Times public editor, and I have been an occasional guest on his Sunday media show.)
First, he said, he was struck by “the number of staffers who miss Roger Ailes,” the network’s dictatorial co-founder who resigned in disgrace in 2016 after a horrifying string of sexual harassment allegations and died less than a year later. Under Ailes, these staffers told Stelter, there was at least some leadership, a clear vision and some journalistic standards — even if those standards were aimed squarely at maximizing ratings and pursuing an arch-conservative agenda. Ailes was the obvious “audience of one,” at the Murdoch-owned network, the boss whom all strove to please or suffer the consequences. With his fall from grace, a new, far stranger reality emerged: the audience that matters most now is President Trump…….