Special Counsel Robert Mueller is finally making moves in his investigation into possible collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia.
On Friday, it was reported that a federal grand jury had approved the first charges in the investigation, although it was unclear what and who the charges would be about. By Monday, it was reported that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his business associate, Rick Gates, had been indicted as part of Mueller’s investigation, mainly for various financial crimes. It’s possible that Mueller will use these indictments to get Manafort to spill more beans about the relationship between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials. In other words, it’s a big and newsworthy step forward in Mueller’s probe.
If you were watching Fox News though, this story is almost nonexistent. While basically every other major publication (including its competitors CNN and MSNBC) has been covering the indictment, Fox has been reporting on completely inconsequential stories (cheeseburger emojis, the state of America’s patriotism, NFL players kneeling) and maliciously irrelevant deflections (Obama’s campaign paying money to the law firm that funded the dossier).
This is all far from harmless: a recent study by the American Economic Review shows that Fox News can play a significant part in shaping how people vote. From Vox:
A new study in the American Economic Review (the discipline’s flagship journal), with an intriguing and persuasive methodology, finds exactly that. Emory University political scientist Gregory Martin and Stanford economist Ali Yurukoglu estimate that watching Fox News directly causes a substantial rightward shift in viewers’ attitudes, which translates into a significantly greater willingness to vote for Republican candidates.
They estimate that if Fox News hadn’t existed, the Republican presidential candidate’s share of the two-party vote would have been 3.59 points lower in 2004 and 6.34 points lower in 2008.
For context, that would’ve made John Kerry the 2004 popular vote winner, and turned Barack Obama’s 2008 victory into a landslide where he got 60 percent of the two-party vote.
And then there are the op-eds that came out over the weekend. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board published a piece demanding an investigation into “collusion” between Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC and Russia because it had been reported that the former two entities had paid the law firm that funded the pee tape dossier (which was initially funded by a GOP donor). The story is total subterfuge—opposition research is far from “collusion” and as Alex Shephard pointed out at the New Republic, the only thing that matters is if the contents of the dossier, which allege actual collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, are valid.
The New York Post also published an op-ed this weekend titled, “Robert Mueller should resign,” which also focused on Democrats funding the dossier, as well as the Obama administration’s 2010 involvement in a uranium deal, which has proven to have no importance or relevance to Clinton or “collusion” with Russia. (Also, let’s not forget that Russia wanted only one candidate to win and that candidate...is now the president of the United States.)
Conveniently! Fox News, the Journal, and the Post are all part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire—and guess who happens to be a good friend of Trump’s? There is only one clear point to these stories in the Murdoch properties: a coordinated narrative to deflect from the actual investigation into Trump and Russia.