Propaganda machine called Fox News, by David W. Marshall
3/16/2023, 6 p.m.
In 2021, the bill to award gold medals to the U. S. Capitol Police officers who responded to the Jan. 6 insurrection passed, despite 21 GOP lawmakers voting against it. The Congressional Gold Medal is Congress’s highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished contributions made by individuals.
Surprisingly, party members that pride themselves as supporters of law and order opposed honoring the officers who upheld law and order on that tragic day. It is both shameful and insulting that the lawmakers who benefitted from the officers’ bravery and sacrifice found reasons to ignore the fact that five officers died carrying out their sworn duty to serve and protect.
No officers were killed on the day of the riot, four died by suicide and the fifth died of natural causes triggered by the events of the riot. The men and women of the U.S. Capitol Police are worthy of the nation’s recognition. Rep. Andrew Clyde argued a month before the vote that the riot at the Capitol was nothing more than a “normal tourist visit,” regardless of the multiple photos of Rep. Clyde helping barricade the doors of the House chamber after rioters breached the Capitol building. With the help of Fox News, Rep. Clyde’s assessment would later prove to be part of the GOP’s ongoing narrative in recreating the events of Jan. 6. Fox News, like its competitors CNN and MSNBC, are cable opinion outlets rather than pure news outlets.
Fox News viewers are more likely to accept and believe misinformation than viewers of other opinion outlets. Fox News may have once been an outlet for “enjoyment and entertainment, but it has evolved into a propaganda machine disguised as an entertainment outlet. Donald Trump uses the network to disseminate information — facts, arguments, rumors, name-calling, half-truths, and lies.
Kevin McCarthy, as House Speaker, uses his position to do the same. Speaker McCarthy gave Fox News host Tucker Carlson exclusive access to over 40,000 hours of sensitive Capitol security camera footage from Jan. 6. As a result, Fox News was given the freedom to spin, edit, and spin again as they saw fit. Mr. Carlson took advantage of a unique opportunity to pick up the talking points of lawmakers such as Rep. Clyde and others who downplayed and attempted to normalize the insurrection. He released to Fox News viewers a manipulated and bogus version of Jan. 6, seeking to change the narrative of the event as peaceful. In doing so, Fox News has become a state-sponsored propaganda machine typical of non-democratic nations.
Approximately 140 police officers were injured during the insurrection. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick was sprayed by chemicals and collapsed, according to witnesses, and died the following day. The family of Sicknick joined Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manager in condemning Mr. Carlson for airing “cherry-picked” video from the calmer moments of the riot rather than the “chaos and violence” that occurred on a day that officers described as medieval warfare with officers slipping on their own blood and vomit. Chief Manager called Mr. Carlson’s accusation about Sicknick the most disturbing of the program.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who seeks to maintain the power of House Speaker, gave Fox News viewers exactly what they wanted. The same is true for Mr. Carlson and Rupert Murdoch, who aims to increase ratings and revenue. Therefore, the propaganda and misinformation continue, as does the viewership. But the right-wing media giant may have met their match.
The writer is founder of the faith-based organization TRB: The Reconciled Body.