If the defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News has taught us anything, it’s that the right-wing media outlet has little shame when it comes to lying to its viewers.
Text messages and emails involving former Trump White House aide-turned-Fox News executive, Raj Shah, reveal the constant battle between protecting Fox News‘ brand and gaslighting the American people with misleading information.
Shah denounced former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani’s claims of mass voter fraud in the 2020 election, but shied away from pushing back against the baseless statements.
“This sounds SO F—— CRAZY btw,” Shah wrote to a deputy after Giuliani appeared at the Republican National Committee’s headquarters with traces of hair die running down his face.
“Rudy looks awful,” the deputy responded.
“He objectively looks like he was a dead person voting 2 weeks ago,” Shah wrote back.
Under pressure from Trump loyalists to promote the President’s lies about a stolen election, the former White House spokesman jumped into defense mode after a Fox News reporter fact-checked Giuliani live on air, saying that some of the disgraced attorney’s statements were “simply not true.”
“This is the kinda s— that will kill us,” Shah texted the deputy. “We cover it wall to wall and then we burn that down with all the skepticism.”
The relationship between Fox News and the Trump administration was intertwined and at many times indistinguishable. Several former employees were brought onto the Trump White House staff – and vice versa.
The Rupert Murdoch-owned media outlet is credited with being a catalyst for Trump’s ascendance as a “credible” contender in the 2016 election and spent the ex-President’s four-year term acting as the propaganda arm of the corrupt administration.
In a previous lawsuit, Shah testified that he was hired to protect the reputation and brand of Fox Corp. entities, including Fox News.
The senior vice president reportedly acted as a liaison between the network’s executives and the news outlet’s evening hosts — including working closely with Tucker Carlson’s team.
Shah, according to The Washington Post, “was trusted by the prime-time hosts as a vigilant defender against critics.”
Facing increased competition from the far-right news channels, Newsmax and OAN, the network was scrambling to keep the base from jumping the Fox News ship by trading truth for outrage and culture wars.
“Our concern is Newsmax and One America News network,” he wrote in another email.
Despite telling former Trump aide Hope Hicks to call Fox News president Jay Wallace for advice on spinning the narrative after the network’s election night declaration for President Biden – behind the scenes show that Shah was skeptical the decision desk was wrong.
“In private text messages the following day, Shah made clear that he personally believed that Fox News‘s Decision Desk had probably been correct when it concluded that Trump could not overtake Biden’s narrow lead in the key swing state,” The Washington Post reported.
“I don’t really think AZ is in play,” Shah wrote in response to a D.C. lobbyist.
Over a million pages of electronic communications involving Fox News employees have been turned over in the Dominion suit, making it clear that the “brand” being pushed by the outlet is misinformation, disinformation, outrage, and lies.
“Our brand is under heavy fire from our customer base,” Shaw wrote. “Bold, clear, and decisive action is needed for us to begin to regain the trust that we’re losing with our core audience.”
Shah’s statements sum up Republicans in a nutshell. Feed the base red meat by any means – or any narrative, necessary.
Original reporting by Rosalind S. Helderman and Josh Dawsey at The Washington Post.
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