After President Trump practically took a loyalty oath to Fox News in a tweet today after the Democratic National Committee decided to exclude the cable network from its upcoming presidential candidate debates, the mutual loyalties between the president and the network that would rather ignore hard facts that contradict the president were more obvious than ever.
Bernie Goldberg, a former news analyst for the network and a frequent guest on the program of the disgraced sexual harasser and former Fox News headliner Bill O’Reilly, explained how the network’s intertwined comingling of interests with President Trump led to his premature departure from Fox News.
Goldberg wrote a blog post yesterday that explained how he came to be blacklisted by Fox News executives even as a reliably conservative voice for his outspoken refusal to kowtow to a president for whom he had little respect.
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According to the former news analyst, the executives at the network, which at the time included current White House Communications Director Bill Shine, would not allow conservative commentators to utter a word of criticism directed at Trump or other prominent right-wing luminaries such as former Alaska Governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Newsweek reports.
Goldberg wrote that prominent figures at Fox News retaliated against him after he pointedly complained that Sean Hannity and other hosts were merely flattering Trump and Palin during interviews rather than asking them the type of questions that an actual journalist would. He gives the example of Bill Shine calling his agent to complain about Goldberg’s critique of Fox’s journalistic underperformance.
The ex-Fox contributor described Sean Hannity’s interviews as resembling “wet kisses a lot more than journalism.”
“Fox will tolerate a liberal criticizing President Trump, I said, but the network didn’t want conservatives taking shots at him,” Goldberg wrote in his blog post. “Sometimes I defended the president against what I thought was unfair criticism. But I was also critical of Mr. Trump, of his vindictiveness and his dishonesty.”
He also said that the cable network’s die-hard viewers “didn’t want to hear negative comments about a man they supported, no matter how true they were.”
“Producers and anchors don’t need angry viewers,” Goldberg said. “In cable TV news–at Fox, at CNN and at MSNBC–the business model is easy to understand: Give the audience what it wants to hear. Validate the biases of the viewers. Keep them coming back for more. In that world, I was a problem.”
Despite his run-ins with the Fox News brass, Goldberg was never actually fired from the network. Instead, he says, he was simply not invited on air during the last months of his contract which was subsequently not renewed after its expiration.
With the explosive article by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker detailing the mutually beneficial messaging collusion between the White House and the right-wing news network, none of Goldberg’s revelations come as much of a surprise to anyone observing Fox News‘ modus operandi.
His insider’s confirmation of what so many people had already assumed was the truth about the network’s tight control of its presenters’ comments does provide a satisfying affirmation of their instincts.
Unfortunately, Fox News viewers, as Goldberg so rightly points out, don’t care about the truth. They only want their prejudices reinforced.
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Original reporting by Benjamin Fearnow at Newsweek.