For years, Democrats have been deeply conflicted about Fox News. At times, they’ve shunned the network as an irredeemable source of disinformation, boycotting it or banning it from covering Democratic presidential primary debates. But such efforts have been temporary: They have tended to resume appearing on the network and have reverted to treating it as more or less a news channel, albeit a hostile one.
Now, however, it’s becoming clear that interacting with Fox News as a news outlet in any sense is no longer an option for Democrats. In light of the news that network personalities knowingly deceived viewers about the 2020 election for cynical pecuniary purposes, Democrats plainly have to take on Fox News in a new way. And some of them know it.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had a moment like this, where a major news network has been exposed as deliberately deluding its viewers or readers,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told me. “This is a seminal moment in the history of mass media. And we need to treat it that way.”
But what should that look like?
This week, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries signaled an aggressive posture in a letter to Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch. The two New York Democrats demanded that the network get star anchor Tucker Carlson and others to recant their lies about the 2020 election on the air. The letter said:
Though you have acknowledged your regret in allowing this grave propaganda to take place, your network hosts continue to promote, spew, and perpetuate election conspiracy theories to this day.
This might be the first time that the Democratic congressional leadership has formally labeled Fox News content “propaganda.” [Continue reading…]