Freedom of the press is at the very foundation of America’s democracy. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1816, “Where the press is free…all is safe.” However, Abraham Lincoln added this qualification in 1865, “Let them know the truth, and the country is safe.” Indeed, the safety of our country depends on a responsible press—one that checks its sources and strives to report the truth.
The press in this country has not always been perfect in my estimation, but during my lifetime it has been generally responsible in ferreting out the facts and reporting the truth. That has changed in recent years with the advent of around-the-clock cable news and talk radio, particularly with the arrival on the scene of an Australian media mogul, Rupert Murdock. The Australian’s news outlets, especially Fox News, have poisoned the air with increasingly strident, untruthful reportage.
It is extremely sad to see a so-called news organization spewing out falsehoods on practically a daily basis, with the apparent purpose of creating outrage amongst its loyal audience, thus driving its ratings and revenues. What else could explain such wretched reporting as the claim on April 23 by Fox News host John Roberts that President Biden had plans to cut Americans’ red meat consumption.
Robert’s false report stirred immediate outrage among Murdock’s media group, taking the entire country by storm, until Roberts meekly admitted 3 days later that Biden had no such plan. In the meantime, many politicians wedded to Fox News blew gaskets, threw unwarranted accusations at Biden and generally gnashed their teeth, including Idaho Governor Brad Little.
The fulminating over the fake beef news was just starting when Murdock’s New York Post reported that Vice President Harris was slipping copies of her book, Superheroes Are Everywhere, into welcome bags being distributed to migrant kids coming across the border. This was, of course, another fake Murdock story, which the Post admitted in a tiny statement in the paper on April 27. Turns out the reporter resigned, claiming she had been ordered to write the falsehoods. Nevertheless, the story caused great outrage across the nation between the false report and the admission of fakery.
While these penny-ante lies are mind boggling, they are part of the continuing stream of false invective being dished out by the Murdock media empire. You wonder why Fox should persist with these fake reports of minutia. It could only be for the purpose of keeping the outrage caldron stirred between major fake news issues that strike at the core of our democracy.
The biggest bundle of fake news being peddled on a continuous basis by Murdock’s empire is that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. Despite all competent evidence to the contrary, Fox News and its counterparts persist in this vicious lie that has caused untold damage to American institutions, causing distrust in our elections, the courts, and the fact-checking media. Even Idaho’s Governor and much of the State’s Republican Party were taken in by this big pernicious lie.
Another of the major fake news stories being pushed by Fox, together with its message amplifiers across the country, including the inaptly-named Idaho Freedom Foundation in Idaho, is that our educators are trying to indoctrinate kids from kindergarten through college. Despite a lack of evidence to support their case in Idaho, our Legislature has been caught up in a meritless effort to besmirch and discredit our dedicated teachers and the local school boards who chart their course. Murdock’s fake news outlets are poisoning trust in our democratic institutions and their untruths endanger the safety of our country.