After years of smearing and even condoning threats against President Barack Obama, Fox News is now promoting the idea that Donald Trump should sue his media critics at just about every outlet that doesn’t suck up to him the way Fox does.
Schmitt was the star of Fox News’ “attack-the-media” kabuki theatre segment on Fox & Friends First this morning. Before bringing on his attorney guest, Schmitt primed the pump. First, his introduction: “The media delivering below-the-belt attacks on Trump, really, since Day One.”
As clips played of pundits criticizing Trump, including a clip of Trump targets Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, a banner on the screen read, “LIBERAL ATTACKS: HOW FAR IS TOO FAR?”
In case anyone missed the message, Schmitt said, “Oh God,” and laughed derisively after the clips. He then “asked,” “How far can these pundits, and some of ‘em anchors, even, go before they cross a legal line?”
Schmitt continued with his first “question” for his guest, attorney Jesse Weber.
SCHMITT: It’s been an assault. I will say, that a lot of this has been provocated [sic] by his own behavior and some of the tweets and some things like that. He’s kind of brought it onto himself in some ways but a lot of it just is unnecessary and you hear a lot of the statements that I’ve heard, especially on MS[NBC] and CNN that are just outrageous to say about a president of the United States. At what point does this get to the point of being, I guess, would it be defamation, would it be slander? I mean, where’s the line?
Weber agreed that “It is nasty on both sides.” But he made it clear that the dream of silencing Trump critics in the media doesn’t seem so attainable.
WEBER: [The] First Amendment protects freedom of speech and freedom of the press and that includes speech that is critical and critical of the president. That can even include stories that are not necessarily true and contain mistakes and errors. However, when you get into deliberate false reporting, that’s when you have issues of defamation.
Because [Trump is] a public figure, he would need to show actual malice. … He would need to prove that these news outlets knew that these stories were fake or showed a reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of that and that is not an easy thing to prove because every news station is gonna say, “We thought it was true.”
So Schmitt suggested that Trump go after the media over "threats."
SCHMITT: What I think would be easier, if people were gonna actually go after a media outlet for something like that, would be threats. Because CNN made such a big deal about the president posting that video that looks like him wrestling and beating up a CNN reporter, you know, over the weekend and stuff like that. But you had a CNN, I assume, contract employee in Kathy Griffin, who did their New Year’s Eve show, which they promote the hell out of, holding the president’s [fake] bloody head in her hand [in a photograph]. Isn’t Madonna saying I’ve thought about blowing up the White House, isn’t that a direct threat?
Weber explained that while Griffin’s photo and Madonna’s comments may have been in bad taste, they were not likely to be perceived as actual threats under the law.
Which reveals another layer of this kabuki theater. Fox News producers know what their guest is going to say before he or she is booked. So Fox knew there’s no legal case but deliberately fanned the flames of hostility toward the rest of the media anyway.
But almost as bad as the scripted incitement of hostility was the hypocritical outrage. Fox News relentlessly promoted Trump’s bogus birtherism long after it was proved President Obama was born in the U.S.A. Furthermore, Fox Nation sanctioned so many overt death wishes for Obama that I dubbed it, the “Go-To Website For Those Wishing For Obama’s Assassination.”
Even worse, Fox Nation allowed one commenter to repeatedly post offers of money for the assassination of various public officials and private citizens. Thanks to the efforts of one of our readers, that guy was arrested and sentenced to jail.
With a cable “news” network devoted to promoting his message and destroying his critics, Trump probably doesn’t need any legal action against the media. Watch Exhibit A below, from the July 5, 2017 Fox & Friends First.
If you Google the subject, it’s clear the ravaging is concentrated in the right-wing, pro-Trump media. It’s faux outrage to protect the rantings of an n-word spewing white supremacist as fearful for his reputation as he is his safety (by his own account) should people he knows realize what a morally reprehensible racist he is.
The Fox News hypocrites have no problem unmasking school teachers and other ordinary little guy liberals they hope to crucify in their never ending ‘culture war’.
Not too surprising the overwhelming Fox News/Trump base is going all out to defend a white supremacist. Like Tucker Carlson did recently.
I remain totally cheesed off at mega-idiot Kathy Griffin for her brain dead stunt of decapitating Trump. Fox News and the right is going to pound their opponents for centuries with her sick trick. That said, Kathy Griffin was being a complete dumbass on her own time so you can’t blame CNN. They dumped her like a hot potato – as they should – when her disgusting stunt went public. She needs to emigrate to remote Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland so she’s never heard from again.
I think all of here realize it’s agitprop like Fox’s here which bitterly divides America. It’s created a political environment where cons who seem to have absolutely no critical thinking skills stay huddled in a right-wing information bubble.
There was a recent survey which showed, overall, Americans trust CNN more than Trump. However – and I’m going to spitball the numbers because I can’t recall the exact figures – the exception was Republicans who overwhelmingly trust Trump more than CNN. It was like less than 10% trust CNN while 80% or more trust Trump.
Right-wingers will argue it’s reversed for Democrats so fair’s fair. However, CNN is a news network. Trump is a serial lying politician whose documented lies (e.g., via a list maintained by NYT) are a shocking order of magnitude or more worse than any other president who preceded him. CNN certainly gets some stories wrong but no more than any other network. It’s just the unprofessional journalists at Fox News are going to politicize each and every one CNN commits.
Isn’t fascism a beautiful thing?