Shortly before President Joe Biden’s voting rights speech yesterday, Fox made a big show of concern about what Biden would say – and yet the network aired infotainment instead of the speech
Before Biden’s speech, “news” anchor John Roberts used a panel discussion to pre-smear it. He primed the pump, so to speak, by saying, “Of course, federal government taking aim at the new voting bill in Georgia. It's likely that it may also target Texas, Alabama, Arizona, among others.” Before tossing to Geraldo Rivera, Roberts noted that federal courts have “sided with states in a couple of challenges that have come up.”
Rivera jumped right into suggesting that the voter suppression laws are commonsense and no big deal.
RIVERA: John I’m sure that this will be settled in the Supreme Court of the United States. I just want to quickly say... you want voting rights? Every American, every single American citizen should have a photo ID provided by, free of charge, by the federal government.
Rivera melodramatically railed that “it is preposterous to think that we can have people in this day and age without IDs. It’s absolutely ridiculous and it’s so paternalistic, it’s preposterous.” But he never mentioned the paternalistic and dangerously preposterous blockage of the bill's consideration by Senate Republicans.
Roberts didn’t mention it either. He turned to contributor and former Benghazi Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz and goosed him more pointedly to pre-attack Biden’s speech.
ROBERTS: Jason, are you concerned that President Biden is weaponizing the DOJ to enforce his moral views about voting?
CHAFFETZ: I am. I'm concerned about how Biden is using the Department of Justice. Look, they've lost in the Supreme Court. I don't think this bill at the federal level has any chance of passing. And if Joe Biden is going to give a speech today, tell me specifically, President Biden, what you are opposed to in Texas and Georgia -- because they talk in platitudes, but they won't offer specifics. Authenticate the vote. That is a winning proposition. That's where the president should be but he hasn't been in the past.
CNN described the speech as, “a dire and angry warning” that “the very underpinnings of American democracy were under threat, calling an ongoing assault on voting rights the gravest challenge to American democracy since the Civil War.” Also, “It was the most forcefully Biden has inveighed against Trump since taking office. At one point, accusing Republicans of shirking truth and responsibility for upholding the Constitution, he bellowed: "Have you no shame?” (You can read the speech here and/or watch it here.)\
Instead, Fox viewers got infotainment. CNN’s Oliver Darcy noted:
While Biden spoke, Fox hosted a discussion on Bill Gates' divorce, previewed a Fox Nation show, and talked about the 'woke' military. It's hard to see how any news exec would view those topics as carrying more importance than Biden's speech on voting rights. But Suzanne Scott and Jay Wallace did...
As I said, no news executive could actually believe that previewing a Fox Nation infotainment show holds more editorial weight than carrying a major presidential speech. That leads to the natural Q that has been debated for years: Is Fox a news network? I'd argue it is primarily not. Fox's decisions only make sense when it's viewed as a right-wing talk channel, not a news outlet. It's truly just talk radio on TV: Constant right-wing commentary with an occasional dry reading of the headlines from a conservative POV. Yet too many media reporters still lump Fox in with major news brands. Why is that?
I believe the “why” has an easy answer: Fox fans think the network provides news and governments and other media outlets don’t want to alienate them. But that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t point out all the ways that Fox does not fulfill what should be minimum standards for a news network.
Fox was always a propaganda outlet that provided legitimate news operations as cover. But that cover isn’t even the size of a fig leaf any more.
You can watch Fox pre-smear the Biden speech the network chose not to air below, from the July 13, 2021 America Reports, via Media Matters.