Underneath Geraldo Rivera’s hideously anti-American statement is a kernel of truth about the effects of Sean Hannity and Fox News in the era of Donald Trump, the Russia investigation and the so-called Nunes memo that may be even more disturbing.
Media Matters caught Rivera sucking up to Hannity (and Trump) on Hannity’s radio show yesterday:
RIVERA: Nixon never would have been forced to resign if you existed in your current state back in 1972, '73, '74. … [I]t's too bad for -- It's too bad for Nixon, because nobody like you existed then. I say that because I believe that our prime responsibility now is to unshackle the 45th president of the United States.
Silly me, I thought his and Hannity’s prime responsibility was to tell truth and provide insight, not “unshackle” anyone from the rule of law. But if nothing else, the release of the so-called Nunes memo debacle has shown just how strong an influence Fox is having on American policy and politics.
But putting that aside, Rivera stumbled on an ugly truth that anyone who thinks we’re about to have Watergate II needs to hear: Preventing another Watergate is part of Fox's DNA.
In his biography of former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, The Loudest Voice in the Room, author Gabriel Sherman wrote that Watergate hit Ailes “like a stomach punch.” In 1974, the year Nixon resigned, Ailes went to work for Television News, Inc., or TVN. TVN was, as the New York Times put it, “a Joseph Coors-backed attempt to create a conservative news alternative that served as a dry run for what Ailes did two decades later at Fox.”
In a recent tweet, Sherman responded to speculation that Fox News and Hannity might well have saved Nixon’s presidency:
This was the rightwing dream. In my Ailes book I reported on the secret history of TVN, the conservative news network bankrolled by Joe Coors in 1975 and staffed by former Nixon aides to make sure Watergate didn’t happen again.— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) December 18, 2017
This is not to say that attempts to hold Trump accountable to the rule of law are doomed. But it is a warning that despite the many echoes of Nixon in Trump, Fox News has changed the political playing field and not on behalf of truth and democracy.
Listen to Rivera implicitly make that case below, from the February 1, 2018 The Sean Hannity Show, via Media Matters.
(Hannity image via screen grab.)
We just had newspapers, the three major networks, and local news for our information. Radio news was like today, top of the hour headlines. There was no fire breathing right wing talk radio or any bias, just the reporting of the news without opinions. The only real bias came from our newspapers editorial page.
Before Fox, Rush, and all his clones, both Nixon and Reagan won 49 states in their re-elections and I didn’t think the press was bias against the left.
We are dealing with a Long Island street hustler who is as slippery as a bucket of eels. Insiders know all too well about this clown’s antics.
He will get caught with his extra large pants down.
NOTE TO HANNITY
Your little friends on Long Island will be attached to your disgraced name when the ax finally falls. And we will start with the nonprofit/charitable organizations that accepted your money.