Democrat Joe Biden takes office on Wednesday (35) with 35% of Americans convinced he is not the President-elect of the United States. Among Republicans, the number rises to 65%.
There would be no grotesque invasion of the Capitol by the Trumpist mob on January 6 without this big lie. The presidential prank, which Biden won by a wide margin in the popular vote, has been carefully cultivated throughout the campaign – when defeated candidate Donald Trump said at rallies and on social media , that there were only two options: his victory or a stolen election.
And there would be no consolidation of the Big Lie without the approval of the cable channels and radio stations that together reach tens of millions of Americans every day. The far-right media apparatus that has been propagating conspiracies, inciting violence and spreading deadly disinformation since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic is the national infrastructure that has helped normalize, under the guise of “journalistic content”, the period of greatest division in the country since the Civil War in the mid-19th century.
Much was speculated in November about the next steps for two men with extraordinary power to influence Trump’s voters. Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan have concentrated more political power in recent US history than any other media company executive.
Patriarch Murdoch, who turns 90 in March and is the founder of Fox News, spent most of the pandemic in isolation in a mansion in England but suddenly reappeared making decisions in January about his son, the president of the New York-based company. York.
It removed the only program that looked like the network’s prime-time news program and inserted new opinion content, signaling audiences that the turn would be even further to the right.
Australian Murdoch is not an ideologue, he is a businessman turned billionaire using newspapers and television to elect and defeat politicians on three continents. In the home stretch of the American campaign, he lost the man he helped elect in 2016.
What Murdoch didn’t expect was to face the competition when Trump began attacking Fox for going public with decent polls and polls and exploded the night the network was the first to screen. Biden’s victory in the important state of Arizona.
Two small far-right broadcasters who were already courting Trump invested everything in the big lie about the election, One America Network and Newsmax (run by a personal friend of Trump).
Although they haven’t touched the daily figures for Fox, which has dominated the average audience for 20 years, the channel has lost 20% of viewers since November, and right-wing children have exponentially increased their daily audiences in a few weeks.
Murdoch family watchers, aware that he calls Trump a ‘dumb’ and anxious to get rid of him, were surprised to see the businessman double the bet on the big lie following the invasion from the Capitol. Some of its anchors, in addition to falsifying the abundantly documented facts on video during the uprising of the 6th, continue to repeat that the election is contested.
No president in modern American history comes to the White House with such an extraordinary challenge from the conservative or extremist media ecosystem as Joe Biden.
Elected during a great recession and the worst pandemic of the century, Biden was quickly compared to Franklin Roosevelt, another Democrat who inherited the country devastated by the Great Recession in 1933, and implemented the New Deal, a series social programs, infrastructure, reforms financial and regulatory issues that have had the most impact in the 20th century Biden has reportedly spent the past few weeks studying the transition from the incompetent Herbert Hoover to the charismatic Roosevelt.
Fox, who has attacked Democratic presidents for 24 years, is the product of the decisions of Ronald Reagan, the conservative icon, whose media advisor, Roger Aisles, became the founding director of Fox News and invented the combative style of journalism by cable in USA.
In the early 1980s, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) relaxed control of radio station content, until then dominated by public policy issues and religious programming. The move spawned the first crop of far-right-wing talk shows, whose biggest rep, Rush Limbaugh, has just renewed his daily program contract and is in the air opposing the calls. at the end of the violence after the invasion of the Capitol.
In 1987 Reagan reverted to the doctrine of fairness, in effect since 1949, which required television networks to display “conflicting views on matters of public interest.” When Rupert Murdoch founded Fox News in 1996, his news reports were already free. tell the public, as it did last year, that the pandemic is a scam and that the cleanest election in American history, according to Trump administration officials themselves, is illegitimate.
Bill Clinton was the first to confront the unscrupulous Limbaugh and Murdoch artillery which Hillary Clinton denounced, with general sarcastic reactions, as the “vast right-wing conspiracy.”
Barack Obama confronted the digital artillery of ‘Birtherism’ with the first shots fired by Trump himself, who guaranteed to send investigators to Hawaii to prove the Democrat was born in Kenya – and therefore could not be elected president.
The attack on Congress sparked a debate that was off the radar, as it is the Silicon Valley giants like Facebook and Twitter that are seen as the biggest facilitators of conspiracies, like those in the QAnon group – and it was clear that the insurgency of now it is openly organized on social networks.
Over the past week, American writers have questioned whether Biden can and should use the FCC to rule the disinformation anarchy that has become so damaging to democracy. Under current laws there is little he can do. The FCC does not license cable channels. Those who decide to distribute the channels are the major operators, such as AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Dish Network and Verizon.
With the sudden decision by big business to halt donations to Republicans who voted in the House and Senate to overturn the elections, attention to operators is increasing.
Access to operators’ subscribers is oxygen for the chains. The Murdochs are known to have armed themselves with a small gang of lawyers at the start of the pandemic, fearing prosecution for spreading false public health information. It’s impossible to imagine a giant like AT&T removing Fox from its grid. But it’s too early to know how the attack on Capitol Hill can influence the market, under pressure from a Democratic-controlled Congress.