Fox News’ 24-hour Donald Trump tongue-bath is not a new phenomenon, but the details of just how sweeping Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch’s propaganda empire is still have the capacity to shock.
In a new, exhaustive feature out Monday on the network’s transformation from a tabloid-modeled cable site to a functioning government propaganda network, New Yorker writer Jane Mayer dug up a few key details: like that Fox News had the Stormy Daniels hush money story weeks before it ran in the Wall Street Journal but killed it and demoted the reporter who did the legwork. What a surprise!
Per Mayer’s story (emphasis mine thoroughout):
That fall, a FoxNews.com reporter had a story that put the network’s journalistic integrity to the test. Diana Falzone, who often covered the entertainment industry, hadobtained proof that Trump had engaged in a sexual relationship in 2006 with a pornographic film actress calling herself Stormy Daniels. Falzone had worked on the story since March, and by October she had confirmed it with Daniels through her manager at the time, Gina Rodriguez, and with Daniels’s former husband, Mike Moz, who described multiple calls from Trump. Falzone had also amassed e-mails between Daniels’s attorney and Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, detailing a proposed cash settlement, accompanied by a nondisclosure agreement. Falzone had even seen the contract.
But Falzone’s story didn’t run—it kept being passed off from one editor to the next. After getting one noncommittal answer after another from her editors, Falzone at last heard from LaCorte, who was then the head of FoxNews.com. Falzone told colleagues that LaCorte said to her, “Good reporting, kiddo. But Rupert wants Donald Trump to win. So just let it go.” LaCorte denies telling Falzone this, but one of Falzone’s colleagues confirms having heard her account at the time.
“Good reporting, kiddo... so just let it go.” is something... nobody at a media outlet should say! Let’s see what happened after that:
In January, 2017, Fox demoted Falzone without explanation. That May, she sued the network. Her attorney, Nancy Erika Smith, declined to comment but acknowledged that a settlement has been reached; it includes a nondisclosure agreement that bars Falzone from talking about her work at Fox.
Great. Glad we cleared all that up!
The full feature is well worth a detailed read but there are a few other absurd nuggets I wanted to highlight. Take, for example, this little joy about how Trump spends most of his “executive time” watching cable news and ranking anchors on a scale of 1-10 (or 12) based on how loyal they are to him:
Axios recently reported that sixty per cent of Trump’s day is spent in unstructured “executive time,” much of it filled by television. Charlie Black, a longtime Republican lobbyist in Washington, whose former firm, Black, Manafort & Stone, advised Trump in the eighties and nineties, told me, “Trump gets up and watches ‘Fox & Friends’ and thinks these are his friends. He thinks anything on Fox is friendly. But the problem is he gets unvetted ideas.” Trump has told confidants that he has ranked the loyalty of many reporters, on a scale of 1 to 10. Bret Baier, Fox News’ chief political anchor, is a 6; Hannity a solid 10. Steve Doocy, the co-host of “Fox & Friends,” is so adoring that Trump gives him a 12.
Steve Doocy, great job. You’re doing amazing. You’re going to make a truly absurd footnote in many historians’ documentation of this era, and the best I can say is that I hope your children and grandchildren have the sense to be ashamed about it.