HomePoliticsTrump and Fox News, twin titans of politics, hit with back-to-back reproaches

Trump and Fox News, twin titans of politics, hit with back-to-back reproaches

For the better part of a decade, Donald J. Trump and his allies at Fox News have misled some Americans and angered others while creating an alternate world where elections turned to fraud, one political party oppressed another, and one man he stood up to his detractors to bring his version of the truth to an adoring electorate.

Then this week, on two consecutive days, the American legal system delivered a dose of reality to the former president and the highest-rated cable news channel.

On Thursday, Trump became the first former president in history to be indicted on criminal charges after a Manhattan grand jury examined money paid to silence a pornographic actress in the final days of the 2016 election.

The next day, a Delaware Superior Court judge found that Fox hosts and guests had made repeated false claims about the voting machines and their alleged role in a fictitious plot to steal the 2020 election, and that the defamation lawsuit of Dominion Voting Systems worth $1.6 billion against the network must go to trial.

Both defendants dispute the claims. Still, the back-to-back blows against the twin titans of American politics landed as a reminder of the still-unfolding reckoning with the tumult of the Trump presidency.

For the left, Seismic Week delivered an “I told you so” years in the making. Democrats who had long wanted to criminally indict Trump had the satisfaction of seeing a prosecutor and a grand jury agree.

A day later, after years of arguing that Fox News was not fair or balanced, they were able to read a judge’s decision that Fox had not made “good faith and disinterested reports” in Domain. Fox argues that on-air statements alleging voter fraud are protected by the First Amendment.

While the two cases have nothing in common in essence, they do share a rare and powerful potential. In both, the final judgments will be rendered in a court of law and not by disputing experts on the editorial and cable news pages.

“There will always be a holdover, no matter how the matter is resolved in court, who will refuse to accept the ruling,” said Norman Eisen, a government ethics lawyer who served as special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the Trump’s first election. the removal process. “But when you look at other post-revolution societies, the legal proceedings reduce the factions to a few hardcore believers.”

He added: “A series of court cases and sentences may break the fever.”

That, of course, could turn out to be wishful thinking by a Democrat.

In this time of constant campaigning and tribal partisanship, even the courts have had a hard time bursting the ideological bubbles that have been created by Trump pundits and Fox News. The legal system produced a Settlement of $25 million for fraud charges against Trump University, dismissed dozens of lies about irregularities in the 2020 election, pushed for a search for lost classified documents, and ruled numerous times that Dominion’s machines did not in fact change votes.

However, hundreds of thousands of Americans remain devoted to both defendants.

Embarrassing and damaging material has already surfaced in both cases, with little immediate sign of backlash.

How Times reporters cover politics. We trust our journalists to be independent observers. So while Times staff members can vote, they are not allowed to endorse or campaign for political candidates or causes. This includes participating in marches or rallies in support of a movement or giving money or raising money for any political candidate or electoral cause.

Thousands of text messages, emails and other internal company documents disclosed to Dominion and published show high-level figures in the network as hell-bent on maintaining ratings supremacy by giving audiences what they want, regardless of the TRUE.

The captions show star host Tucker Carlson calling Trump a “demonic force,” and Fox Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch describing Sean Hannity as “privately disgusted with Trump.”

Fox News has said Dominion took the private conversations out of context. Its ratings dominance appears unaffected by the negative headlines of recent weeks. Nielsen data shows that in March, the 10 highest-rated cable shows in the United States were all on Fox News, led by “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” and that 14 of the top 20 were produced by the network.

Still, experts believe the case has already resonated.

“I’ve never seen a case before where journalists said they didn’t believe the story they were telling, but they were going to keep telling it because that’s what the audience wanted to hear,” said Lyrissa Lidsky, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Florida and an expert in defamation law. “It’s a shock wave that says it’s time to get serious about accountability.”

The Democrats could also see their illusions dashed. Although many have clamored to see Trump impeached and felt vindicated this week, the risks of failure are considerable.

If Trump’s lawyers request that the charges be simply dismissed as prosecutorial overreach and win quickly, the fallout would almost certainly strengthen Trump, who will make the case, and possibly others to follow, central to his primary campaign.

But in a court of law, the magnetism that Trump and Fox News have over their hearings can lose some of its power. No matter how many times the former president insists outside the courtroom that he is the victim of a political process, inside the courtroom his lawyers will have to address the specific charges. They will win or lose based on legal arguments, not bragging rights.

“I’ve been around for 50 years and I’ve heard the political argument before,” said Stanley M. Brand, a veteran Washington defense attorney. Mr. Brand cited the “Abscam” bribery case from the 1970s, when defendants accused President Jimmy Carter of orchestrating the bribery scheme, or the investigation of Senator Robert G. Torricelli, which was also surrounded by political charges. “It has never worked in a court of law.”

James Bopp Jr., a conservative defense attorney, said he agreed with virtually all Republicans that the Manhattan district attorney had persuaded his grand jury to bring a specious indictment for the political purpose of harming Trump.

But, he said, Trump’s lawyers should respond to the charges, not brag about politics.

“A charge is not automatically dismissed because it is filed for political purposes,” he said. “The motive of the prosecutors may be relevant to society in general. It is not relevant to a judge.”

The exact charges against Trump may not be known until he is arraigned on Tuesday. The grand jury that brought the indictment was examining payments to Stormy Daniels and the central question of whether those payments were illegally disguised as business expenses, a misdemeanor that would become a felony if those payments could be labeled as illegal campaign spending.

If past legal skirmishes are any indication, Trump is likely to drag out proceedings for months, if not years, with motion after motion as he builds his third presidential campaign around what he called on Friday the “unprecedented political pursuit of the president.” . and flagrant interference in the 2024 elections.”

Likewise, Fox News will almost certainly continue to frame Dominion’s case as that of a corporation trying to stifle First Amendment guarantees of free speech and press freedom.

“This case is and always has been about First Amendment protections of the media’s absolute right to cover the news,” the network said in a statement Friday.

That may be left for a court to decide.

Ken Bensinger contributed reporting.

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