Donna Brazile, the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, just joined Fox News as a contributor - and without saying a word on the air gave the hate-mongering propaganda network undeserved cred and legitimacy just with her presence. Then, in her first on-air appearance, Brazile took part in the network’s smear of Beto O’Rourke’s first name.
I like Donna Brazile and, as regular readers know, I am vehemently in favor of Democrats appearing on Fox News and taking the bullies by the horns. But just like a Democratic primary debate is no vehicle for confronting Fox, neither is a paid contributorship. Confronting Fox is what is required, not going along with its mythology.
Sadly, Brazile seems to have bought into the fiction that Fox is merely a conservative news outlet with conservative opinions in prime time. Today, in her first Fox appearance as a contributor, and in a similar opinion column on FoxNews.com, Brazile said her new position is an “opportunity to reach across the aisle.” She told host Dana Perino, “I want to talk to people. I want to listen. I want to reach out. I want to do so in civility.” She called this time in America, “a time for dialogue.”
That’s the kind of thinking I applaud but it’s not at all the kind that you’ll find on Fox News.
We can forgive Brazile for not reading NewsHounds or Media Matters, but she should at least have gotten the point of Jane Mayer’s recent bombshell in The New Yorker. Besides making the case that Fox is State TV like we have never seen before, Mayer laid out very clear examples of Fox blatantly and dishonestly serving Trump over any news considerations or respect for differing opinions.
For example, conservative Ann Coulter told Mayer that after complaining to Trump about not being invited on Fox News (back when they were still pals), he offered to call head honcho Rupert Murdoch and tell him to put her back on. Coulter accepted the offer and she was invited back “within twelve hours.” Even worse are the bogus scandals Fox has promoted in service to Trump: baselessly blaming murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich for the leaking of DNC material to WikiLeaks, and the Uranium One “scandal” debunked by Fox anchor Shepard Smith but kept alive by Sean Hannity.
In fact, “Uranium One” was not just kept alive by Hannity, he gave guest Sebastian Gorka a friendly prime time platform to suggest Hillary Clinton should be put to death over it. A few weeks later, Gorka was hired by Fox as a “national security strategist” – for which he credited Hannity (Gorka has since left Fox’s employ.)
In other words, it’s not that so many Fox guests and hosts support Trump, per se, but how they do so that is so pernicious. Will Brazile have the gumption to call out and challenge the agenda? Sadly, her record indicates otherwise. In a contentious 2016 discussion with Megyn Kelly, Brazile remained mostly on defense and, even then, did not come up with coherent responses to Kelly’s attacks.
Even more dismaying, Brazile has already played right into Fox’s hands. In discussing Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, she mispronounced O’Rourke’s first name as “Bay-to” (It’s Beh-to). Then she acquiesced to the Fox/Trump playbook by seeming to correct herself by referring to him as “Robert Francis O’Rourke.”
What’s even worse than that is how Brazile has helped boost Fox’s tarnished image just be agreeing to be part of the family. As the network tries to mollify advertiser concerns about the bigoted extremism of its opinion hosts, what could be more useful than to point to the contract of a former DNC chair who also happens to be a woman of color?
The only good news about this situation is that it’s not too late for Brazile to wake up, smell what Fox News has got cooking, speak out against it forcefully (and yes, civilly) and then let the chips fall where they may.
Please, Ms. Brazile, don’t buy into the fiction that you’re engaging in legitimate political debate and give credence to “questions” such as “Should Rep. Ilhan Omar be removed from office?” or “Is Hillary Clinton the real Russia colluder?”
This is a time for dialogue, yes, but understanding who you’re talking to is even more important.
Watch Brazile go along with Fox’s assault on O’Rourke’s name below, from the March 18, 2019 The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino.
Dennis Kucinich infamously did this a few years ago, and mostly spent the time kowtowing and toadying to the Fox News hosts. James Carville briefly did it a few years ago and didn’t last very long as he just didn’t want to put up with the usual Fox News nonsense.
It’s pretty clear that Brazile is doing this as a desperate move to get her some publicity and some cash for the moment. It’s also clear that the Fox News execs want Brazile because they’re hoping to get a bunch of embarrassing comments from her about how the DNC supposedly is sabotaging Bernie Sanders. It’s sad to watch someone like Brazile falling for this, but people are only human in the end.