‘Kill the messenger’: How Fox News cried ‘coup’ over the Mueller investigation

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The cable news channel regularly accuses the special counsel’s Trump-Russia inquiry of being a ‘coup’ by a ‘criminal cabal’. What are they playing at?

And Fox News can play a critical role in how the investigation is perceived by supporters of Trump. It is predominantly watched by conservatives, and is a key source for much of Trump’s base. A July poll found that 33% of Republicans get their news only from Fox and indicated a deep distrust of mainstream news outlets among rightwing partisans.

“It reinforces the Trump base. It doesn’t get anybody outside the silo,” said Rick Wilson, a prominent conservative consultant and vocal “never-Trumper”. “Their purpose here is not to convince other Americans that Bob Mueller is corrupt and a Hillary Clinton supporter and needs to be fired.”

In his view, “the conservative media ecosystem has become a shield wall and a defense mechanism for Trump’s base rather than something that is changing everybody else’s opinions and attitudes.”

Although Trump’s counsel Ty Cobb has been urging calm inside the White House and has insisted the investigation will be over in the new year, outside advisers have been taking a different tack. Breitbart, the publication run by former top White House aide Steve Bannon, has been constantly hostile to Mueller, and Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for Trump outside the administration, has been an active surrogate casting doubt on the investigation.

Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign aide, agreed. He told the Guardian: “The issue is Fox News and that echo chamber helps keep Republican opposition against the investigation high.” He noted this was also critical in the 1990s to bolstering conservative support for Ken Starr’s investigation of Bill Clinton.

Nunberg noted: “From a practical point of view, this investigation is getting closer and closer not necessarily to the president but to [Jared] Kushner [the president’s son-in-law and adviser] and potentially damaging information. So they are taking the kill the messenger approach which is why you see all this loud hoopla over Mueller getting the emails” – a reference to a claim by Republicans that Mueller’s inquiry inappropriately gained access to messages from Trump’s transition team, which Mueller’s spokesman has denied.

Jeanine Pirro, perhaps the most public face of the effort to undermine Robert Mueller.
 Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro, perhaps the most public face of the effort to undermine Robert Mueller. Photograph: Andy Kropa/Andy Kropa /Invision/AP

Pirro has become perhaps the most public face of this effort to undermine Mueller and perk up partisan Republicans. She has long had a relationship with Trump. Her ex-husband represented Trump as a lawyer and Trump appeared on her television show even before his successful presidential bid. An ex-prosecutor who uses her former title as a local judge on her television show, Pirro mounted two unsuccessful bids for statewide office as a Republican in New York before going into television.

However, a number of other top Fox hosts have also joined in the campaign.

Ingraham, a longtime conservative radio host who was mooted as a potential White House press secretary, has also taken a leading role pushing this narrative and claimed that Muller was trying to “undo the 2016 election”. She has bashed Mueller’s team as “obvious partisans” and said “they should all resign”.

Hannity, the prominent Fox News host who has previously promoted conspiracy theories around the death of a former DNC staffer, has also actively attempted to discredit Mueller’s investigation. In a segment with Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett, the FBI was compared to the “old KGB” by Jarrett. Hannity went on to make clear the comparison of a federal law enforcement agency to the Soviet secret police was “not hyperbole”. Jarrett labelled it “a shadow government”. Hannity has also called the Mueller investigation “a disgrace” and claimed that it “pose[s] a direct threat to you, the American people, and our American republic”.

Source: www.theguardian.com

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