FEBRUARY 7, 2020 BY JONATHAN MS PEARCE
This report is delicious for people like myself, who have long maintained that FOX News spread disinformation and lies, that their ideological bias distorts truth beyond the limits of credibility.
Well, now FOX have admitted this themselves in an internal report.
I wonder what regular commenters here who defend FOX and who watch FOX think about this. I’ll call them out: See Noevo, Person223, skl, Otto T. Goat, Evolution is a Hoax and others. How do they justify this? How do they defend their continued loyalty to such a network (if indeed they do have a FOX penchant)?
Fox News has a credibility problem. Most critics of the cable news network will be well aware of that, but in this case the admission is coming from Fox News itself.
An internal research briefing obtained by the Daily Beast names four regular contributors to the network for peddling “disinformation”, particularly when it comes to the Ukraine scandal which lead to Donald Trump’s impeachment.
Among those named in the lengthy document titled Ukraine, Disinformation, & the Trump Administration, put together by Fox News senior political affairs specialist Bryan S Murphy, are frequent guests Rudy Giuliani, John Solomon, Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova.
Solomon, a disgraced former writer for the Hill and a regular guest of Sean Hannity’s, comes under particular scrutiny. “John Solomon played an indispensable role in the collection and domestic publication of elements of this disinformation campaign,” the document explains.
Much of Solomon’s “reporting” on Ukraine formed the basis of Giuliani and other Trump officials’ efforts to smear and oust the former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, a figure seen as standing in the way of the president and former Ukraine officials’ shadowy machinations in the country.
Among the allegations against Solomon noted are “non-disclosure of conflicts, use of unreliable sources, publishing false and misleading stories, misrepresentation of sources, and opaque coordination with involved parties”.
Elsewhere in the file obtained by the Beast are details of Giuliani and his back-channel dealings to investigate former vice-president Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as his connections to now indicted figures Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. Giuliani has a “high susceptibility to disinformation”, Murphy writes.
The credibility of Toensing and diGenova, a married couple of hyperpartisan Trump loyalists who were secretly working for the indicted Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash during the period of their regular appearances on Fox News, is also called into question as they did not disclose that relationship.
“Notable are the roles of Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing in spreading disinformation and their parroting of beneficial narratives while employed by Firtash,” it explains.
Hannity, the popular primetime host and Trump confidant, is also criticized for laundering the reputations and trumpeting the trustworthiness of the guests in question.
According to Media Matters, the four individuals have made 348 appearances on Fox News weekday programs since 2018. About 203 of them were on Hannity’s program alone.
This is huge. It really is. I wonder whether any regular watchers and devotees will ever hear about this, though, in the general viewing public?
The Daily Beast adds:
Elsewhere in the internal brief, Murphy urges Fox News employees to focus on a wide range of alleged journalistic misdeeds from Solomon, including ”non-disclosure of conflicts, use of unreliable sources, publishing false and misleading stories, misrepresentation of sources, and opaque coordination with involved parties.”
Despite Solomon’s reputation for questionable claims, he continued to be a fixture on Fox News even as impeachment inquiry witness Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman—who listened in on the infamous quid pro quo call between Trump and Ukraine’s president—testified that “all the elements” of the columnist’s supposed Ukraine reporting were “false.” The Hill announced it would conduct a full review of Solomon’s work. Though he has not appeared on Hannity’s show since Dec. 26, Solomon’s most recent Fox appearance came last Friday on Laura Ingraham’s primetime show.
The document also disputes the credibility of Trump personal attorney and frequent Fox News guest Rudy Giuliani. While the former New York mayor has regularly appeared on Fox to justify his efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter on Trump’s behalf, Murphy claims Giuliani is easily fooled by Ukrainian disinformation.
Murphy writes that Giuliani has a “high susceptibility to disinformation” disseminated by Ukrainians like Lutsenko and Firtash. The document notes that two indicted Giuliani pals, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, had “strong reported financial links to Firtash.”
“Reading the timeline in its entirety—not a small task—makes clear the extensive role played by Rudy Giuliani and his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, in spreading disinformation,” Murphy writes.
The brief also questions the credibility of diGenova and Toensing, a married pair of Washington lawyers and frequent Fox News guests who appeared across the network’s right-wing commentary shows.
The pair were regularly deployed by Fox hosts like Hannity, Lou Dobbs, and Tucker Carlson to criticize the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry and attack Fox News analysts who questioned the president’s actions. DiGenova briefly stopped appearing on Fox after spewing on-air the anti-Semitic trope that liberal billionaire George Soros “controls” the U.S. State Department. And then he and his wife have altogether ceased appearing on the network since December….
The briefing book is also seemingly critical of Fox’s own coverage, urging employees to note the role that unnamed “US Media” outlets played a role in the “amplification of disinformation stories from clearly unreliable sources and non-disclosure of conflicts by guests.” While Fox isn’t specifically named in the introduction, much of the timeline focuses on appearances made on Fox programs, and Murphy writes that the “most prominent” outlets who amplified the disinformation campaign are mentioned in the timeline—a possible reference to Fox News itself.
The document notes omissions by Hannity, who frequently had Solomon, Toensing, diGenova, and Giuliani on his show. Murphy notes that the primetime star continued to refer to Solomon as an “investigative reporter” even after The Hill explicitly labeled his work to be “opinion.” The briefing also dings Hannity for failing to mention, in a segment featuring Toensing and diGenova about an affidavit filed on behalf of Firtash, that the pair were working for the Ukrainian oligarch Firtash—an obvious conflict of interest.
“At no time during the program does Hannity, Toensing, and diGenova mention who requested the statement nor do they discuss that they are Firtash’s attorneys,” the briefing book reads.
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