CNN host Brian Stelter appeared on MSNBC a second time to plug his new book Hoax on Tuesday afternoon with Katy Tur. There were no challenging questions, just softballs. Tur mentioned at the end that both of them had the same person editing their anti-Trump books. Isn't that special?
Tur began by audio-doodling a cartoon of convention coverage where no one died of coronavirus and Donald Trump never did anything wrong. Does that accurately portray the most recent days of coverage on Fox News? Well, MSNBC's audience will buy that.
KATY TUR: Donald Trump feeds off Fox, and Fox feeds off Donald Trump. Last night at the RNC, some Americans saw an entirely different reality than their own. President Trump could do no wrong, 170,000 Americans didn't die under his watch from a pandemic that he mismanaged. And the economy was great, or quickly on its way to being great, again. If you were a regular viewer of Fox News, the reality wouldn't have been so absurd. On Fox, the president's failures are glossed over or ignored, and his achievements are exaggerated or lied about.
As my next guest writes, "Trump's entanglement with Fox has no historic precedent. Never before has a TV network effectively produced the president's intelligence briefing and staffed the federal bureaucracy. Never before has a president promoted a single TV channel, asked the hosts for advice behind closed doors, and demanded for them to be fired when they step out of line."
Tur wasn't about to challenge this unprecedented-coziness thesis -- say, for example, when Obama pal Al Sharpton was offered an MSNBC show after lobbying for the Comcast merger with NBC Universal. Back then, Sharpton refused to entertain those theories. Oh, but guess what? "Even if nothing untoward went on, The New York Times’s Brian Stelter noted that the past lobbying raises questions about Sharpton then getting a job with MSNBC."
Anyway, Tur tossed softballs.
TUR: Brian, always good to see you...Let's talk about this book and how it relates to the election that's coming up. The symbiotic relationship is really important, and could be a game-changer for the president. You describe a Fox host as telling you "we started to make decisions for Trump, meaning a lot of the decisions that were made on stories to cover were based on the fact that he was watching"....How significant has this been for the president, and his ability, I guess, to retain power among a certain segment of people?
STELTER: I think it's almost the entire story of the Trump presidency. Without Fox, without this megaphone, we would have had a very different four years. He would have had to appeal to the rest of the country. You know, Fox in some ways has ruined the Trump presidency by misinforming him, by doing a disservice, but he wants more and more of it. He wants more and more misinformation. He wants to be told every day how great he's doing. That's why he attacks the news anchors on Fox, and praises the sycophants like Hannity. And that former host you just quoted, Katy? That former host left because they weren't comfortable with the way things were going at Fox. It wasn't always like this at the network. That's why I had to write this book, Hoax. Because Trump did take over the channel in a way that's unprecedented.
How much do you want to bet that former host's name rhymes with Leopard Pith?
Tur set up Stelter to describe his term "lie-laundering," that Fox supposedly takes unproven conspiracy theories and forces them into the media conversation where "mainstream" outlets have to mention it. (He could mean the unproven theory that Seth Rich was murdered by Democrats, but he doesn't get into specifics.)
STELTER: It's also irresponsible that there's actually nobody firmly in charge to make sure misinformation doesn't get on the air. Or that people are held accountable when it does. Unfortunately, though, the audience, they eat it up. Ratings for Fox News are higher than ever before, because viewers are told every day, not to trust anything else. They're told everything else could be a hoax, it could be fake. Ultimately that's dangerous for democracy. We need a healthier conservative media ecosystem.
Translation: We need healthier "conservative" media stars like Shepard Smith.