"Hoax": CNN's Brian Stelter On Trump, FoxNews And Truth
(Originally broadcast Oct. 1, 2020)
Today, we revisit a conversation Tom had in October with Brian Stelter, the chief media correspondent for CNN, about his latest book, which explores the unholy alliance between President Donald Trump and Fox News. It’s called Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth.
That alliance has frayed after the election. Tom's conversation with Brian Stelter took place four weeks before the election, two days after the first, chaotic debate between the President and then former Vice President Joe Biden. Reaction to that debate fell along party lines to some extent, but as NPR’s Mara Liasson had noted when she was a guest on Midday the day before Tom spoke with Brian Stelter, some leading Republicans did criticize the president for not condemning white supremacy and for his impolite and crass behavior. This was considered, at the time, progress...
Chris Wallace, the debate moderator, came under criticism for his inability to enforce the rules of the debate that had been agreed to by both campaigns. Wallace, the host of Fox News Sunday, is a highly respected journalist. But as Brian Stelter reports in his book, Wallace’s affiliation with Fox News has caused him more than a little discomfort because his network also carries opinion shows with Fox stars Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro and Laura Ingraham, all of whom have made their reputation, and a lot of money, as cheerleaders for Donald Trump.
The connection between the President and Fox News was hidden in plain sight. Anytime the network failed to program content that pleases Mr. Trump, he is quick to criticize it, and even quicker to reward the hosts who remain loyal with Twitter praise and exclusive interviews.
Since the election, the President has had some harsh words for some at Fox News, and it may be that their mutual affection has unraveled. But it’s also true that the opinion hosts led the charge for Mr. Trump’s baseless claims of widespread election fraud.
As President-elect Biden prepares to assume power next month, today, we’ll explore the particular role Fox plays in American politics.