This morning on the treadmill I flipped the TV over to Fox news. I like to vary where I get information from and hadn’t been on Fox in awhile. Fox & Friends was running their Saturday edition. What unfolded in the half hour span was nothing short of an authoritarian’s delight.
Last week Michael Flynn stepped down as National Security Adviser when CNN broke the news of improper contact with Russia during and after the election and prior to taking office. This past Thursday the news broke that Chief of Staff Reince Priebus tried to get the FBI to dispute media reports about the Russian interference. As President Trump is so able to do, Friday was a diversion from all of this when certain news groups were banned from a White House presser. Cue the Outrage Machine about a free press vs. an authoritarian state.
This morning, then, Fox & Friends hosts were talking, not about Russia, but the media banishment that splashed the previous afternoon. The three hosts did not criticize the president and echoed the sentiments of the White House, that the New York Times uses false sources to produce fake news. Another argument offered that Obama had once banished Fox News, so what is the big deal here.
While true, and certainly not acceptable, that Obama briefly had Fox banned from Treasury Department briefings, the other mainstream news media stood up for Fox and criticized the White House. Some boycotted briefings until Fox was reinstated. Rather than return the favor, this department of Fox News chose to throw their media brethren under the bus.
Fox & Friends then brought in Geraldo Rivera to talk about the media and the long time TV journalist and talking head would have none of this line of thought. He deftly batted down the three hosts, defending a free Press and how no president should be picking winners and losers. It was wrong when Obama did it and it is wrong with Trump, he essentially said. He cut off one host who went down the fake news of the New York Times route and said he disagreed it was fake news.
Then Fox pulled a pure brilliant a pair of brilliant manipulations of the views with one deft moment.
In the middle of Geraldo corrupting the established Fox & Friends narrative, one host interrupted with a breaking news Amber Alert. It was not an Amber Alert focusing on a missing child. It was an alert “for our viewers on the east coast” to be on the lookout “for an illegal immigrant” (picture then displayed) who had previously been deported and arrested for domestic violence.
Here is how it ran on Amber Alert, courtesy of a tweet on Friday:
NONE of this aired on Fox & Friends, instead they ran a mug shot of the “illegal immigrant” and went back to the interview.
Genius Fox & Friends… pure genius. Two totally different manipulations with one message.
First, it reinforced what the President has said about illegal immigrants, being criminals and harming our society in general. None of the hits returned in a search lead with a headline that screams “illegal immigrant wanted” as Fox & Friends did (see right). Will Fox continue to use these types of Alerts to enlist the public as an arm of the Executive Branch to aid in apprehending illegals? It feels a lot like Brown Shirts in 1930’s Germany. Glenn Beck made a similar comment earlier in the week.
Second, this strategic dropping of the Amber Alert threw the interview off its course. Momentarily the criticism from Geraldo of the president was side-tracked. While they went back to bantering on the media ban after the interruption by the one host, the scroll at the bottom of the screen continued to share the Amber Alert info — effectively diluting what was happening on camear. The scroll was giving information about the background of the suspect… NOT the child in question as is typical with Amber Alerts.
Was this a legit Amber Alert or an intentional distraction?
No actual Amber Alert was issued Saturday, it had been issued the day before and was actually cancelled for the east coast by noon Friday. Check the timestamp on the source tweet:
And had the Fox & Friends producers done their homework, their own news network posted a story before the segment started that clearly stated the suspect was apprehended the previous evening.
After the commercial break, the next segment did not mention the Amber Alert nor did it appear anymore on the scroll. Did legal get to the show and pull the plug? Or was this intentional slight of hand used strategically to diffuse criticism of the White House by a popular guest?
If it is the latter, then it is quite an impressive display of propaganda craftsmanship when you can light up a chunk of America with a misleading Amber Alert. Conveniently, Fox & Friends video of today’s show ends abruptly at the point just before the host goes to the alert. They can point to this video as being “fair and balanced” because the hosts take one side, Geraldo the other. But what next, with the (canceled) Amber Alert, sure feels like the ghost of Joseph Goebbels smiling from the hinterland and plays purely to the authoritarian feel that the president and his right hand media mogul, Steve Bannon, want to see from the “news”.