After the election of Donald Trump, last week created the juxtaposition to 2016 that much of the country was looking for.
Democrat Ralph Northam defeated Republican Ed Gillespie in the Virginia gubernatorial race. Democrats also maintained the lieutenant governor and attorney general positions and gained at least 14 seats in the state house. They have the potential to gain a majority as three races remain too close to call.
One of these is state representative Danica Roem, the first openly transgender woman to serve in a state office. Seven other transgender candidates won in state local elections. New Jersey elected its first Sikh mayor in Hoboken, a Liberian-American refugee became Montana’s first black mayor, and women of Latin, Asian and African American backgrounds won in public races across the nation.
But, if you turned to Fox News for election coverage, you might not have known any of this.
While the results of this year’s local elections flashed across the TV screens showing CNN, MSNBC and other mainstream news channels, Fox News presented minimal election coverage — Sean Hannity covered it in six seconds — opting to show clips of Trump’s visit to South Korea and recaps of his year-old victory instead.
As a fiercely conservative news network, of course Fox News wouldn’t want to highlight the victorious candidates Trump has been trying to silence since before he was even elected — further evidence of Trump’s damage to the Republican party.
Forty percent of Trump voters cited Fox News as their main source of news. Since Trump began referring to mainstream media as “fake news,” he has dictated which network his supporters should turn to for their news, essentially turning Fox News into his own propaganda channel.
Politico journalist Michael Kruse recently reported on loyal Trump voters in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Voters believed Trump would reopen the steel mills and coal mines and build the wall on the Mexican border. He has yet to fulfill these promises, among others, but nearly all of these supporters would still vote for him in the future.
Is Fox News responsible for lying about Trump’s success? Perhaps.
One man said he was happy Trump kept his promises to repeal Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood — both of which have yet to happen. Another said he’s glad Trump doesn’t play golf as much as Obama did, which is also untrue.
A few weeks ago, special counsel Robert Mueller indicted Paul Manafort and Rick Gates as part of the investigation into collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, arguably one of the most important moments his presidency. While CNN and MSNBC broke the news that Manafort turned himself in to the FBI, Fox News chose to spend time debating a cheeseburger emoji. When they finally covered Mueller, its hosts framed the news as a “witch hunt,” telling viewers the investigation has nothing to do with Trump.
Coverage of Puerto Rico’s post-Hurricane Maria crisis was arguably underreported across all American cable news channels, but Fox News by far covered it the least. In the week following Hurricane Maria’s destruction, CNN featured Puerto Rico for a total of 14.3 hours. Fox News covered the catastrophe for 2.2 hours. Knowing this, it’s not difficult to see why Trump’s supporters feel his administration handled the disaster in Puerto Rico correctly.
Propaganda in our country’s current political climate is scary. Considering that Trump dominated the low-education population in the 2016 election, Fox News can keep fooling Trump supporters with skewed stories that perpetuate a false view of his success as president, simply because they believe everything else is “fake news.”
These people, many former Democrats, put all their faith in Trump, desperate for a better life after believing the Democratic party could no longer help them. And as long as Fox News continues to instill the belief that he’s trustworthy, they will.
“Democracy dies in darkness” became the Washington Post’s slogan shortly after Trump took office. As Trump continues waging a war on journalism, democracy will suffer, too.
Casey Farmer, ’18, is the lifestyle editor for The Brown and White. She can be reached at [email protected]