It;s pretty safe to assume that virtually all readers of the Blank Slate publications– as well as a consiiderable majority of adult Americans on Long Island and in other parts of the country– have heard and/or read more than enough about the scandal that has been billowing around Fox News, its most prominent anchors, and even the founder and Chairman of the Board, Rupert Murdoch. Of course, most of us who paid attention to the flow of news following the 2020 national elections, and the subsequent assault on the Capitol Building in Washington have been well aware that the claims by Ex-President Trump that the elections had been “stolen,” that the Dominion Voting Machines had been “rigged” to switch votes from Trump to Biden, and that Joseph R. Biden was not the legitimately elected president were outrageous falsehoods — in other words, a colossal lie.
But there was a consistent drumbeat emanating from Fox News and reinforcing those lies– a reminder of a quotation from Josef Goebbels, the Hitlerian propaganda minister, who stated that “if you tell a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” It seemed to many of us who were not Fox devotees that the nation might be moving along that path.
It all changed, however, as a result of the widely publicized libel suit filed by Dominion against Fox News, seeking $1.6 billion in damages to the company’s reputation as a manufacturer of reliable, accurate tabulators of ballots cast. The case seemed to be slogging along below the radar, atracting little or no attention, until the bombshells recently began exploding: somehow Dominion or its attorneys obtained the texts of e-mails and text messages among some of those key anchors, demonstrating convincingly that they all knew very well that their claims of rigged elections were false and fraudulent, and that they had been laughing smong themselves about it.
And, to put icing on the cake, Chairman Murdoch admitted, in testimony under oath, that he had known that his network was promulgating lies in order to sustain the loyalty of its “true believers” to avoid antagonizing them, losing audience numbers, and perhaps seeing its publicly traded, NYSE-listed stock decline.
With that as already well-known background, many of us are hoping — expecting— that the scales have been tipped in favor of Dominion and that Fox will have to bear a huge financial burden. Some commentators with a left-leaning bias have even suggested the possibility that the $1.6 billion in damages for libel could be augmented by punitive damages for the willfully false attack on Dominion’s integrity as a key supplier of voting machines to localities across the entire country. It remains to be seen, of course, how the trial goes and how successful the defense attorneys may be in refuting the plaintiff’s claims.
What I’ve said thus far, though, is well known among those of us who have paid attention to reports of developments, and many of us have a shared hope that now, at last, the Fox viewers will have to face up to the fact that they’ve been conned– that the Fox anchors have played to their audience’s wishful thinking rather than reporting facts that their viewers would find disappointing. And another widely known fact is that Fox has consistently avoided reporting about the progress of the pre-trial preparations, including the admission by its most favored anchors that they had been deliberately lying to their most loyal fans.
And there’s good reason to suspect that if it turns out that the trial goes against Fox and that the decision includes the requirement of a very large payment — possibly measured in billions — it would be the network’s policy simply not to mention it. Since it’s been asserted that a very large percentage of the Fox audience obtains ALL of its news from Fox, it seems entirely possible that the Fox public would still never know that they have been conned by the TV personalities on whom they had been relying.
That’s all a lead-in to a proposal that if the Dominion legal team learns about it and agrees could solve the dilemma: Assuming a victory by Dominion, the terms laid down by the court should include not only the monetary relief granted in the decision, but also that Fox News be required to report in its newscasts the results of the trial, accompanied by the concession that those eminent anchors knew full well that they were lying, and that the policy of lying had been supported all the way up to the top of the corporation in the person of Chairman Rupert Murdoch.
That may well fulfill Fox’s greatest fears: Its audience could lose faith and seek other sources, its advertising revenues would consequently diminish, and the price of its shares would decline, probably affecting the net wealth not only of Chairman Murdoch and his family but also of those who receive any portion of their compensation in some form of participation in shares of company stock.
Furthermore, there might even be a broader benefit to the solution I suggest. I’m sure that many will remember the contention, in the aftermath of the financial near-meltdown of 2008/09, the protests that many of the corporate managers who had been responsible for the problems that led to the crash seemed to have gotten away with little, if any, penalty; indeed, some actually earned large bonuses, often in the form of participation in company shares, for helping the business recover from the crisis they had helped create.
If those Fox individuals are seen to bear some personal cost for having shared in the creation of the Great Scam, it just might be considered a just and fair retribution.
Robert I. Adler.