I don’t know what he’s talking about it. Does this look like the face of a man interested in stoking suspicions about the FBI to run interference for his political idol?
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) January 24, 2018
The Fox News break room must be pretty awkward these days whenever Shep walks in, huh? Hannity’s pronouncing Mueller’s investigation “over,” Tucker’s running “Tainted Probe” segments, and Shep’s on the air in the middle of the day casually assuring Fox viewers that it’s all BS. The hate mail he gets must be *kisses fingers*. I don’t know why he stays. He’s a big enough name that CNN would be eager to poach him, possibly even in primetime. Maybe he views his relationship to Fox primetime the way Kelly, Mattis, et al. allegedly view their relationship to Trump: Someone’s gotta be in the room to keep the populists calm.
It wasn’t just Shep either. Chris Wallace, another big name on the “hard news” side of Fox, also tried to chill viewers out a bit, albeit in a lower-key way: “I’m not sure that talking about deep state coups against the president or corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, I’m not quite sure we’re there yet.” That’s the second clip below. Wallace grumbled a few months ago about certain unnamed commentators on his network piling on the press (“I don’t think they recognize that they have a role at Fox News and we have a role at Fox News. I don’t know what’s in their head.”), making him another obvious candidate to leave sooner or later. Although, precisely because the opinion side of Fox has moved so far into the West Wing in carrying Trump’s message, maybe Wallace and Smith have FNC over a barrel. They and Bret Baier are key to Fox’s “fair and balanced” pretensions. Lose the hard news guys and all that’s left is Hannity pounding the table about a “deep state coup” forever.
Matt Welch surveys the past 48 hours, specifically the embarrassing “secret society” episode:
There has been more “deep state” on the Fox networks this week than in an entire season of The X-Files. “The deep state strikes back,” warned Laura Ingraham. “It may be time to declare war outright against the deep state and clean out the rot in the upper levels of the FBI and the Justice Department,” Lou Dobbs thundered. “Talk about Watergate,” Sean Hannity said last night, even after the “secret society” text was unearthed, “This is Watergate on steroids and human growth hormones. The constitutional violations are severe and historically unprecedented in this country. You have deep state actors using and abusing the powerful tools of intelligence that we give them to protect this country.”
Much has been made, at Reason and elsewhere, and including under my byline, about the way that the media’s anti-Trump obsession has led it down the path of hyperbole and comical error, serving to dull their overall critique of an eminently criticizable president. Well, the same and more can be said about the pro-Trump side of the aisle. When every subplot in the Russia investigation—Fusion GPS! Uranium One! Those temporarily missing text messages!—is literally “worse than Watergate,” then the suspicion grows that maybe the next claim, no matter how steeped in real FBI misbehavior, will turn out to be vaporware, too.
The inevitable comic conclusion to which this is all building is Mueller wrapping up his investigation, wrist-slapping Trump in his report for leaning on Comey about Mike Flynn, but otherwise declaring that there was no evidence of presidential collusion with Russia to tilt the election. At which point he’ll go from corrupt “deep state” pawn tasked with bringing down a populist administration loathed by the globalist cuck elite to a man of integrity whose vindication of Trump is unimpeachable. And of course, on the left, his reputation will move precisely the opposite way. American politics is garbage.