America’s TASS

Remember TASS? It was the media arm of the Soviet Government–the Russian News Agency, owned and operated by the government. 

Fox News–or as those of us resistant to its messaging like to call it, “Faux News”–isn’t technically owned by the GOP. But it might just as well be; it is the not-so-unofficial arm of the radical lunatics who are now fully in control of a once-reputable political party. This assertion doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone outside the cult, but recent revelations are, if anything, more troubling.

Not just troubling, actually–horrifying.

As The Washington Post and other media outlets have reported, the wacko pundits of Fox had arguably more influence over Trump than members of his official cabinet (not that those cabinet members had been plucked from the gardens of competence…). New revelations from books written by former staffers are eye-opening.

Stephanie Grisham, former press secretary to President Donald Trump, remembers the challenges that came from so many Fox News hosts having the direct number to reach Trump in the White House residence.
 
“There were times the president would come down the next morning and say, ‘Well, Sean thinks we should do this,’ or, ‘Judge Jeanine thinks we should do this,’ ” said Grisham, referring to Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro, both of whom host prime-time Fox News shows.

Grisham — who resigned from the White House amid the Jan. 6 attacks and has since written a book critical of Trump — said West Wing staffers would simply roll their eyes in frustration as they scrambled to respond to the influence of the network’s hosts, who weighed in on everything from personnel to messaging strategy.
 
Trump’s staff, allies and even adversaries were long accustomed to playing to an “Audience of One” — a commander in chief with a twitchy TiVo finger and obsessed with cable news.

Investigations into the insurrection have uncovered text messages that illustrate just how closely these unelected, unhinged ideologues were connected to the White House during Trump’s Presidency.

As the violence in the Capitol was occurring, several Fox News hosts sent texts to former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, texts that, as the Post reports, “crystallize with new specificity just how tightly Fox News and the White House were entwined during the Trump years, with many of the network’s top hosts serving as a cable cabinet of unofficial advisers.”

A former senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share candid details of private discussions, said Trump would also sometimes dial Hannity and Lou Dobbs — whose Fox Business show was canceled in February — into Oval Office staff meetings.

A report from The Week also reported the extent to which Trump relied on Fox pundits for policy decisions.

Alyssa Farah, a Trump White House communications director, said the goal of Trump’s staff was to “try to get ahead of what advice you thought he was going to be given by these people,” because their unofficial counsel “could completely change his mind on something.” 

Farah said Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Pirro, and Fox Business host Lou Dobbs had the most influence on Trump. Michael Pillsbury, an informal Trump adviser, told the Posthe saw the biggest impact from Dobbs, whose show was canceled last February. Trump began embracing lawyer Sidney Powell and other election fabulists after watching them on Dobbs’ show, and he was inclined to believe their patently false claims in part because he was seeing on TV, he added. 

“It taught me the power of the young producers at Fox, and Fox Business especially,” Pillsbury told the Post. “These young producers who are in their mid-20s. They come out of the conservative movement, they’ve never been in the government. They are presented with these reckless, fantastical accounts. And they believe them and put them on for ratings.”

During the four years of the Trump Administration, sane Americans frequently felt we were living in “never-never land”–that what we were witnessing was just too bizarre to be real. (According to multiple reports, our allies shared that level of disbelief.)

I guess when you inhabit a culture that puts a premium on click-bait, a culture that equates celebrity with merit, wealth with competence (remember that wonderful line from “If I Were A Rich Man”? “When you’re rich, they think you really know…”) and dismisses expertise and knowledge as “elitist,” you lose your anchor to reality.

To the best of my knowledge, even TASS never sank to the level of a Lou Dobbs or Tucker Carlson.

 

 

12 thoughts on “America’s TASS

  1. “… not that those cabinet members had been plucked from the gardens of competence…” -Nice!

  2. Almost makes one long for the days when presidents were influenced by astrologers.

  3. Reflecting on Sheila’s recount of what we are now learning about how the Trump White House functioned reminds me of the eight years living and working in Hollywood. I can’t help but feel Trump ran his office like a Hollywood studio.

    There is a lot of complex structure that brings talent and technicians in and out of actual decision making before a movie is distributed world wide. But think about post production when film editors cobble all the raw footage into a prescribed formula leaving a lot of recorded footage to simply cut and forget. This is how Trump lives. He is making a movie … and anything else outside the editing in post production is “fake news”.

    For grand opening, he gives away the popcorn and sugar water plus all the shwag (red hats circulated by worn out make up queens) to sell the latest hit.

    At the end of the day, The Academy voted him out of the Oscars, and now he is really pissed. Even the studio took away his pass. So what does he do? He has built his own studio so he can control everything from script writing, location shootings, post production and distribution.

    And then watch for this. Screw the Academy Awards! Trump will stage his own Oscars.

    Popcorn and red hat bimbos anyone?

  4. Why are the internet moguls held to a different standard than Rupert Murdock? Why hasn’t the old Fox News owner been dragged before a Congressional hearing to be publicly interrogated? The Fox network is responsible for a high percentage of the lies about the pandemic that have cost thousands of people their lives. And they are responsible for the lies their “news” hosts spewed forth that helped to incite the insurrection that costs so much injury and death to people. And folks, don’t start in on freedom of expression… you are not allowed to yell “fire” in a crowded theater, so why can you get away with yelling “They stole the election. Take back the country” and “The cure for Covid is horse medicine”?

  5. Along with James, the phrase that I love is, “… not that those cabinet members had been plucked from the gardens of competence…” Thank you, Sheila. There are days that the sanity of your words is the one thing that keeps me from losing all hope.

  6. The world will judge us by how we judge and hold accountable those who made Jan 6 inevitable and still threaten government of, by and for the people. Arguably, so far, all we’ve done is hold those on the front lines, Trump’s soldiers, accountable. I doubt if any other government on earth will judge that response to be adequate.

    Often we hear the terms “the great experiment in democracy” or “the cradle of democracy”. That’s on trial too. That has always been our contribution to humanity. What lessons will we be taught by our updated history and what will the rest of the world do from our lesson? My impression will be that the authoritarians of the world will say, “we told you so”. The rest of the world will say “OMG, people can’t govern themselves. We need the few to pass down rules establishing tighter guard rails for life that govern how we live.”

    I’m glad that I was born a lifetime before that realization.

  7. For comparison’s sake, consider this: CNN fired Chris Cuomo for INFORMALLY advising his brother, the NY Governor, on strategy over the allegations of sexual harassment (for which charges have been dropped). Another point of comparison: Hillary Clinton cooperatively sat for 11 hours of hearings before Congress on Benghazi. from which nothing came, but that doesn’t stop Trumpsters from continuing to argue that she did something wrong. NO member of Trump’s cabinet has agreed to be questioned. Not one. They’re forcing the DOJ to get involved. One of the reasons Trump won’t shut up or go away is because Hannity advised him to “stay engaged”. Alt right media keep the spotlight on the fat slob, constantly interviewing him and promoting the Big Lie. NO previous president who was voted out of office (or whose term expired) ever tried to stay in the spotlight, criticized his victorious opponent or tried to hamstring the agenda of his successor. This was out of consideration for the fact that the American people made their choice, which should be respected. Bear in mind, also, that the Republican Party has NO AGENDA, other than being the worshipful cult of Trump, who is a malignant narcissist. We are, indeed, in dangerous times.

  8. maybe a puppet (trump)on strings,for pox news.. as i sit in the few cafes here in nodak, fox news is the cable of ingnorance. the table next to me affirms this. watching people here,is mainly above the 50 age group. the younger ones buried deep in the infinate window. i dont ask.. i grew up around citizen type people,working class,a decade or more after ww2. the talk was about how not to be,and never again,today its how to be,and something called again…i wonder if this simple cafe is a insurrectionists lair..

  9. I’ll go out on a limb, and say Fox news seems to have ties to Russian money. The dark money needs to be followed to it’s sources. I remember during trump’s reign reading credible sources stating that Reps. Jordan & Nunes had ties to Russian money. Nunes has now left Congress it’s reported, to head up a media firm connected to trump.
    I agree with Theresa, the false narrative (outright lies) broadcast over the air & cables are causing harm to Americans, and is my guess with the full approval of Putin. Follow the money.

  10. Theresa, I have had the same thoughts as you have, but the problem in holding Fox Gnus liable in tort is the old bugaboo of causation. There are so many alternatives Fox as a defendant could point to as the culprits to make suits in tort against them (plus, of course, their rants for First Amendment rights to a jury) as to make suits in tort unlikely to bear fruit. Perhaps a look at their licensing by the appropriate authority would be more likely to end their right wing propaganda campaign, though here to one can expect them to also rant their First Amendment rights and how the gummint is trying to shut them up vs. the right of government not to commit suicide by inviting the Huns into the castle.

  11. Fox is being supported by millions of middle-aged high school educated white population who elect many politicians at all levels of government-most of the time by 60% or greater voting ratio. Advertising corporations pour money into Fox not due to the opinions of the telecasters but the huge quantity of viewers that believe which ever wing nut theory is being touted. Good Luck USA

  12. Yes, the extreme right continues to publicly operate a far-flung, well-funded propaganda network that includes FOX News, One America Network, NewsMax, hundreds of training and policy institutions, and more than 1,500 militia units in 43 states. Seventeen states now are confirmed right-wing oligarchies, and nine more are on the verge. The Voting Rights Act that would’ve restored a semblance of democracy is dead. Rich authoritarians are taking over countries around the globe. This movement has been organized and trending for more than six decades … but we still talk as though democracy can be restored. I’m looking at social democratic states – foreign and domestic – to spend my retirement years.

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