“Former President Donald Trump did not succeed in overturning his election loss to Joe Biden. But he did succeed during his lame-duck period in knocking Fox News down a peg.
Over the past few months, Trump repeatedly derided Fox News while promoting upstart rivals like Newsmax and One America News Network (OAN), both of which more reliably pushed his conspiracy theories about the election being stolen. Fox News responded to this very public post-Election Day rift with Trump — and the sagging ratings that came with it — by purging its newsroom and doubling down on grievance-soaked punditry.”
” Though it’s obviously silly to get mad at a cable news channel for accurately calling an election result, that’s exactly what Trump did. In the weeks following his defeat, he routinely blasted the network for its sagging ratings, describing its daytime quasi-news programming as “not watchable” as he promoted further-right alternatives like Newsmax and OAN.”
“Earlier this month, two executives involved in the Arizona call — Bill Sammon, senior vice president and managing editor at Fox’s Washington bureau, and politics editor Chris Stirewalt — were forced out. Diana Falzone and Lachlan Cartwright reported for the Daily Beast that those moves were part of a broader “purge” to “get rid of real journalists.””
“If the goal of these moves is to win back viewers who are now opting for Newsmax and OAN instead of Fox News, they haven’t so far worked. Twice since the election, including once earlier this month, Newsmax has bested Fox News in a key demographic during an hour of programming.
Newsmax and OAN have carved out niches as networks especially willing to spread right-wing conspiracy theories and misinformation. In the weeks leading up to the January 6 Capitol riot, for instance, former Trump national security adviser and key QAnon figure Michael Flynn went on Newsmax and floated the idea of Trump declaring martial law to overturn his election loss and didn’t receive any pushback at all.”
“Nonetheless, Fox News seems willing to give its audience more conspiracy-theory-based programming. On Tuesday night, the top-rated anchor on Fox News, Tucker Carlson, platformed another Trumpist figure facing a defamation lawsuit for spreading fake news about the election — MyPillow founder Mike Lindell — and allowed him to push more conspiracies about voting machines.”
“Fox News spent most of the Trump years enjoying a symbiotic relationship with the president. Its hosts ran interference for him and gave his family members and administration officials unlimited access to softball interviews before a national audience, and in return Trump promoted the network with live tweets, praise, and scorn for the competition.
But with Trump out of power, Fox News quickly shifted from “all Trump, all the time” to becoming a gadfly, devoting multiple segments of programming each day to pointing out alleged liberal hypocrisy and using culture war issues to stoke grievances.”
“Trump is not making a narrow, surgical, legally feasible case to enhance his chances to still be living in the White House come January 21. (That’s … improbable.) He’s not doing this, either, to win the argument. (It’s almost mathematically impossible.) He’s doing it, say political strategists, longtime Trump watchers and experts on authoritarian tactics, to sow doubt, save face and strengthen even in defeat his lifeblood of a bond with his political base.
And it’s … working. Seven in 10 Republicans, according to a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll earlier this week, believe the election was stolen from their candidate.
It is overall for Trump both a culmination and a continuation: a grand finale of sorts of the past five-plus years, in which he’s relied so much on so much unreality—and also a runway, a kind of topspin toward what’s to come once he leaves Washington, D.C., and presumably decamps to Mar-a-Lago to initiate a post-presidency that is all but assured to be unlike any other. The stakes are sky-high, and the collateral damage to America’s democracy could be lasting and profound, but Trump is doing what Trump has always done. He’s spinning a myth to serve his own interest. He’s doing what he believes he needs to do to put at least himself in the best possible position for the future after yet another failure.”
““Obamagate” is a convoluted mess of conspiracy theories untethered to reality. It is a deflection from the utter catastrophe unfolding daily because of the Trump administration’s disastrous coronavirus response.
That may not matter. Trump has used the “witch hunt” strategy since the start of his presidency, and, when it comes to his base and his allies in Congress and the administration, it works.”