Fox News really is now the Trump network. It is not even the GOP network. Just Trump. They have been questioning Mueller’s credibility. Vox explains the evolution:
To put it bluntly: As Mueller brings charges against top Trump officials, Fox News is trying to plant doubt in its viewers’ minds.
We analyzed the past week of Fox News transcripts, measuring them against those of Fox’s cable news rivals CNN and MSNBC.
What we found was striking:
- Fox News was unable to talk about the Mueller investigation without bringing up Hillary Clinton, even as federal indictments were being brought against top Trump campaign officials.
- Fox also talked significantly less about George Papadopoulos — the Trump campaign adviser whose plea deal with Mueller provides the most explicit evidence thus far that the campaign knew of the Russian government’s efforts to help Trump — than its competitors.
- Fox News repeatedly called Mueller’s credibility into question, while shying away from talking about the possibility that Trump might fire Mueller.
Fox News started early in questioning Mueller’s credibility.
As early as last Tuesday, days before we learned Mueller would bring indictments later in the week, Fox News’s Hannity called for Mueller’s resignation.
“Back in 2009, he was the FBI director. This was when the bureau, the FBI, so clearly had this information [about Uranium One.] He had conflicts of interest. There’s no way the American people can trust Robert Mueller to investigate anything Russian-related,” he said.
Hannity was, of course, referring to a report in the Hill questioning why the Obama administration approved the sale of a Canadian uranium company to Russia, despite the FBI previously uncovering misconduct by the Russian nuclear industry. The story also asserts that Russian nuclear officials gave millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation, perhaps to sway then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who served in the group that approved the deal. The story stems from an anti-Hillary Clinton book published during the election called Clinton Cash, and many experts say it has been presented in a misleading manner.
Let’s talk about that the Uranium One deal. We need to because Fox News in particular has taken up the conspiracy theory with gusto, with Fox & Friends, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and Martha MacCallum all running lengthy segments devoted to the story. Conservative radio darling Laura Ingraham tweeted out a link to an article about the supposed uranium scheme in the conservative National Review. The conservative Daily Caller website has run several articles on the subject, as has Breitbart, the right-wing outlet run by former Trump senior strategist Steve Bannon.
Trump himself has added new fuel by taking the highly unusual step of encouraging the Justice Department to allow a former FBI informant to testify about the case before Congress — a rare and nearly unprecedented act. The informant’s lawyer claimed, per the Post, that he would tell lawmakers about his work “uncovering the Russian nuclear bribery case and the efforts he witnessed by Moscow to gain influence with [former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton] in hopes of winning favorable uranium decisions from the Obama administration.”
There’s just one problem: The GOP claim that Clinton gave 20 percent of America’s uranium to Russia is incorrect and clearly misleading now, just as it was when Trump raised it in the past.
The key event that the myth is based on is Russia’s nuclear power agency purchasing a majority stake in a Toronto-based energy company between 2009 and 2013. The company had mines and land in a number of US states with huge uranium production capacity — a move the US State Department signed off on. But PolitiFact did a thorough fact-check of the claim last year when Trump first made it on the campaign trail, and found the following faults with it:
- The mines, mills, and land the company holds in the US account for 20 percent of the US’s uranium production capacity, not actual produced uranium.
- The State Department was one of nine federal agencies and a number of additional independent federal and state regulators that signed off on the deal.
- President Barack Obama, not Clinton, was the only person who could’ve vetoed the deal.
- Since Russia doesn’t have the legal right to export uranium from the US, its main goal was likely to gain access to the company’s uranium assets in Kazakhstan.
- Crucially, the main national security concern was not about nuclear weapons proliferation, as Trump has suggested, but actually ensuring the US doesn’t have to depend too much on uranium sources from abroad, as the US only makes about 20 percent of the uranium it needs. An advantage in making nuclear weapons wasn’t the main issue because, as PolitiFact notes, “the United States and Russia had for years cooperated on that front, with Russia sending enriched fuel from decommissioned warheads to be used in American nuclear power plants in return for raw uranium.”
Trump’s misleading comments are in service of a broader goal: to push back against the growing investigations into his administration’s possible collusion with Moscow, which have hit a new fever pitch with news of Monday’s guilty plea from campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who told the FBI that he’d met with a Russian-linked professor who said Russia had “dirt” on Clinton, including thousands of her stolen emails. Special counsel Robert Mueller unsealed the guilty plea yesterday alongside wide-ranging indictments of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and campaign aide Rick Gates.
BUT… could Fox News talk about firing Mueller?
Nope. They seemed to understand that it was the third rail. It would be Trump’s undoing. So they focused on Mueller’s credibility.
Fox News is now running a segment targeting Robert Mueller. pic.twitter.com/sJSfOv9hF2
— Alexander Panetta (@Alex_Panetta) October 30, 2017
Fox News is the main source of news for 19 percent of 2016 voters, including 40 percent of Trump voters. There’s academic evidence that Fox News is more powerful than we ever imagined. It is quite possibly the main news source for President Trump. There is evidence that the hosts see their jobs as advising Trump — talking directly to him. And what they seem to be saying is — attack Mueller’s credibility.
Will it work? I can’t say for sure, but I see a number of obvious problems. Mueller is a Republican for one. It’s hard to say say he is in the tank for Hillary. Moreover, he’s got an inestimably high reputation — so much so that the Trump Administration considered him for head of the DOJ. But mostly, I don’t think it will work because, well, because it is so OBVIOUS. Indictments get handed down, and suddenly Mueller isn’t credible? Really?
RELATED: Many are unhappy at Fox News —
Some employees at Fox News were left embarrassed and humiliated by their network’s coverage of the latest revelations in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling, according to conversations CNN had with several individuals placed throughout the network.
“I’m watching now and screaming,” one Fox News personality said in a text message to CNN as the person watched their network’s coverage. “I want to quit.”
“It is another blow to journalists at Fox who come in every day wanting to cover the news in a fair and objective way,” one senior Fox News employee told CNN of their outlet’s coverage, adding that there were “many eye rolls” in the newsroom over how the news was covered.
The person said, “Fox feels like an extension of the Trump White House.”
The employees spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. A Fox News spokesperson declined to comment.
Additionally, Fox News aired segments that questioned Mueller’s credibility and many were framed around how Trump and his allies were responding to the news. On Fox News’ homepage, the lead story at one point was focused on Trump slamming the indictment. Another lead story cited Manafort’s lawyer, and asked, “Mueller’s ‘ridiculous’ claims?”
“This kind of coverage does the viewer a huge disservice and further divides the country,” one Fox News personality told CNN.
Fox News journalists took significant issue with their network’s opinion hosts, who deflected from the news and, in Sean Hannity’s case, characterized Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt,” a term Trump used on Sunday in a angry tweet to describe the probe.
“That segment on Outbumbered [questioning Mueller’s integrity] was absurd and deserves all the scorn it can get,” a Fox News employee told CNN, referring to the network’s noontime talk show.
The person added that it was “laughable seeing Hannity and [Laura] Ingraham,” two Fox News opinion hosts who are openly supportive of Trump, “tripping over themselves saying [Mueller’s team has] found nothing thus far.”
“It’s an embarrassment,” another Fox News employee echoed to CNN. “Frankly, there are shows on our network that are backing the President at all costs, and it’s that short term strategy that undermines the good work being done by others.”
Nice to know there is SOME integrity at Fox, but… you dance with the devil… this is what happens.