Yesterday left no doubt: Fox News and Trump Republicans are willing to destroy America’s institutions as long as it keeps them in power.
It starts with Fox News. It starts with Sean Hannity, who’s hearing that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is “illegitimate and corrupt.” That it’s led by a “band of merry Trump-haters” who are trying to reverse the results of the election. And that it must be stopped.
He’s also hearing that the FBI is becoming “America’s secret police,” akin to the KGB in Russia, full of “sickness” and “corruption.”
The overarching message from “Fox & Friends” and “Hannity” is unmistakable: Mr. President, you’re the victim of a “deep state” plot to take you down. Don’t let it happen.
In recent weeks, there’s been a big increase in reporting about Mueller’s probe and how it could affect Trump’s inner circle. At the same time, there’s also been a sharp escalation in the anti-Mueller rhetoric coming from right wing media sources. With four of Trump’s associates now charged by Mueller’s team, and congressional probes also proceeding in many different directions, other channels are filled with the latest twists and turns about the intensifying investigations.
But viewers who stick to Fox might not know that. The nightly focus is on Mueller’s alleged partisanship, not Trump’s potential problems.
Last weekend, The New York Times and The Washington Post reported that Mueller had removed FBI official Peter Strzok from his team of investigators due to text messages from Strzok that could be interpreted as anti-Trump. Even though Strzok was reassigned to FBI human resources, the story is the centerpiece of the current anti-Mueller hits.
Newt Gingrich, who praised Mueller’s appointment back in May, now sounds like a different person altogether. “Mueller is corrupt. The senior FBI is corrupt. The system is corrupt,” he told Laura Ingraham on Wednesday night.
One hour earlier, the banners on Sean Hannity’s show read “MUELLER’S PARTISAN ATTACK TEAM” and “THE DEEP STATE,” so even if viewers had the volume down, they still saw the message. Channel surfers who stumbled on Fox by mistake might think they had landed in an alternate universe. Hannity began the hour by slamming “Robert Mueller’s partisan, extremely biased, hyper-partisan attack team,” calling the accomplished lawyers “an utter disgrace.” He invoked the U.S. Constitution and said “they now pose a direct threat to you, the American people, and our American republic.” Repeating something he has said dozens of times before, Hannity said, “this entire witch-hunt needs to be shut down — and shut down immediately.”
Then Hannity brought in news anchor turned “legal analyst” Gregg Jarrett, who appears on the program almost every night to savage Mueller and company. “I think we now know that the Mueller investigation is illegitimate and corrupt,” Jarrett said. “And Mueller has been using the FBI as a political weapon. And the FBI has become America’s secret police. Secret surveillance, wiretapping, intimidation, harassment and threats. It’s like the old KGB that comes for you in the dark of the night banging through your door.”
“This is not hyperbole you are using here,” Hannity said, credulously.
Yes, Sean. It is the very definition of hyperbole.
“No. Ask Paul Manafort, they came for him and broke through his front door,” Jarrett said. Jarrett and Hannity commented that if it can happen to Manafort, it can happen to anyone.
Well, it DOES happen to anyone.
The rhetoric doesn’t spew from Fox News. It continues in Congress. FBI Director Christopher Wray defended his agency yesterday in his first public appearance since President Donald Trump said the bureau is “in tatters.” Wray told the House Judiciary Committee his agents work hard “protecting the American people and upholding the rule of law in all 50 states and in about 80 countries around the world.”
Throughout the hearing, Republican lawmakers have seized on the actions of Peter Strzok, who led the investigation of the Clinton email server as the No. 2 official in the FBI’s counterintelligence division. He left the Mueller team this past summer after an internal investigation found messages he sent that could be interpreted as showing political bias for Hillary Clinton and against Trump, according to US officials briefed on the matter.
Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, asked Wray about what he’s doing to clear the ranks of the FBI by people “tainted” by bias.
“I think these matters are being looked at, as they should be, by somebody outside the FBI, and when those findings come to me, I will take appropriate action if necessary,” Wray said, referencing the ongoing inspector general investigation. “The first thing I’m doing is respecting the outside independent investigations that are underway. … My preference is to be one of these people who is not an act first and ask questions later guy.”
The allegation of bias is, of course, ridiculous. The assumption is that if you have a political leaning, you cannot be fair and impartial. But is that true? What does say about the Republican Congressmen on the committee?
It’s clear why Fox and some Republicans in Congress are attacking Mueller and the FBI. It is because the heat is on with Trump. They need him. And once Mueller passes a certain point (he may have already passed it), and the investigation moves into litigation, then we are riding a train to Trump’s demise, and even Mueller cannot stop it. So they need to discredit Mueller and the investigators NOW. That’s what is happening.
But it is a very dangerous game. A Russia kind of propaganda game. When you discredit the FBI, and get a large segment of the country to believe there is no law and order, you create chaos. Trump will come and go. The damage being done won’t.