The threat posed to our democracy by Fox News is multifaceted: First and most simply, it’s clearly advancing and giving voice to narratives and smears backed and imagined by our foreign adversaries. Second, its overheated and bombastic rhetoric is undermining America’s foundational ideals and the sense of fair play in politics. Third, its unique combination of lies and half-truths has built a virtual reality so complete that it leaves its viewers too misinformed to fulfill their most basic responsibilities as citizens to make informed choices about the direction of the country.
In the impeachment hearings, former National Security Council official Fiona Hill and other witnesses made clear how those who, like Fox News hosts and the president, advance the false narrative that Ukraine meddled in the US election are serving the Kremlin’s interests. Russia is playing a weak hand geopolitically—its economy is sputtering along and its population shrinking—and so its greatest hope is to stoke internal discord in the West. Robert Mueller warned of this; James Clapper has warned of it; and now Fiona Hill has done the same. “Our nation is being torn apart,” she said. “Truth is questioned.” Yet Fox, and the GOP more broadly, has warmly embraced almost every twist of Kremlin propaganda, up to and including the idea that Russia never meddled in the 2016 election to begin with.
Fox’s clear willingness to parry the wingnuttiest ideas in service of the president, long-term implications to the United States be damned, should worry all concerned about the state of the United States. The Ukraine myth is hardly the only example; for years, it has repeated false conspiracies about the murder of Democratic staffer Seth Rich, a conspiracy literally cooked up by Russian intelligence and fed into the US media.