The Murdoch media has got it wrong. Yet again. But considering all the fuss Donald Trump has kicked up about ‘fake news’, his response to this latest fib beggars belief.
An unknown ‘expert’
On 27 February, Murdoch’s Fox News openly admitted an error. Host Bill O’Reilly said it was “valid” to criticise the description of unknown guest Nils Bildt as a Swedish national security adviser. On 23 February, Fox had invited Bildt to discuss Swedish immigration as a supposed expert. The outlet identified him on screen and verbally as a “Swedish defense and national security advisor”. Even though Swedish authorities claimed to have no idea who he was.
The discussion followed on from Donald Trump’s apparent reference recently to a terrorist attack in Sweden. A comment he later said was about rising crime in the country, and was based on a story from Fox News.
Fox had seemingly brought Bildt onto its show to link crime and immigration, thus backing up Trump’s exaggerated claim. But its use of an unknown ‘expert’ undermined that argument. And according to Bildt himself, who immigrated to the US 23 years ago, it was Fox that had chosen to give him such an official-sounding title.
O’Reilly gave an apology of sorts on 27 February, saying:
we should have clarified that he had no direct role with the Swedish government
in hindsight a more relevant guest should have been used on the anti-immigrant side
Trump’s response (or lack thereof)
Twitter users soon jumped on the controversy, and even tweeted President Trump (just in case he wasn’t aware of it):
— E. (@laltrastanza) February 28, 2017
And in a world where “FAKE NEWS” has become one of Trump’s favourite Twitter expressions, we might well have expected him to say something about the latest Fox News fib. But that wasn’t the case.
In fact, his only tweet was to publicise an upcoming interview with the outlet:
I will be interviewed on @foxandfriends at 6:00 A.M. Enjoy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 28, 2017
Contrast this to Trump’s recent hyperbole regarding critical news outlets, and his response beggars belief.
But few people really expect Trump’s criticism of the media to be consistent, anyway. Especially when he tells fibs so often himself.
The real “fake news" is Trump’s claims of mass voter fraud, which is virtually nonexistent and based on zero pieces of evidence.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) February 19, 2017
The real “fake news" is Trump and Republicans' denials of the massive planetary crisis we face today in terms of climate change.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) February 19, 2017
No stranger to controversy
Fox News has already been accused several times this year of misleading its viewers. One example came after a terror attack in Canada:
— Media Matters (@mmfa) January 31, 2017
Former Daily Show presenter Jon Stewart criticised the mainstream US media for years. And in 2015, he said “Fox News is like a lying dynasty”. His show also published a Vine called 50 Fox News lies in 6 seconds.
In short, Fox is no stranger to what many would now call ‘fake news’.
Two peas in a pod
Despite Fox News‘s record, however, Trump has very clearly left it out of his ongoing war with the media. In fact, he appears to be getting quite a few of his talking points from the outlet. And Fox appears to have returned the favour, by becoming more and more supportive of Trump in the last year or so. Some critics even claim it helped to get Trump elected. And New York Magazine recently ran with the headline Rupert Murdoch Is Turning Fox News Into Trump TV, alleging that the media mogul is “pushing Fox News in a more pro-Trump direction”.
As Jon Stewart recently insisted:
Trump lies more in one press conference than CNN does in a year. And this is coming from a guy who, as you know, hates CNN.
Considering Fox News‘s own relationship with inaccurate reporting, it seems like Trump has found an appropriate bedfellow.
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