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The escalating battle between Trump and Fox News inadvertently exposes one of his most insidious forms of corruption

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- Commentary

On Thursday, Fox News host Neil Cavuto went on an explosive rant against President Donald Trump, reminding him that the network is not his private propaganda channel.

“To fact check him is to be all but dead to him,” Cavuto said. Even more disturbingly, he pointed out that many Trump supporters had contacted him to tell him that “I am either with him totally, or I am a Never Trumper fully.”

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Given that Trump supporters have targeted the president’s perceived enemies in the past–whether immigrants at the border, the Obamas or media networks like CNN–that response could be seen as intimidating.

Writing in the Washington Post, columnist Greg Sargent explains how the feud between Fox News and the president exposes Trump’s most insidious form of corruption.

He starts by pointing to the many problems at Fox. “My purpose here is not to defend Fox. Yes, its news anchors sometimes do cover the administration aggressively, but the news coverage also has a heavy pro-Trump tilt, and its opinion hosts regularly traffic in outright pro-Trump agitprop and white nationalist conspiracy theories,” Sargent notes.

Nevertheless, it’s disturbing for the president to attack them.

“Rather, what’s interesting here is Cavuto’s declaration that many Trump supporters have come to expect and demand from Fox absolute fealty to their leader.”

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Sargent praises Cavuto for standing up to Trump on this issue.

“Cavuto deserves some credit. In his rebuke, he exposed many of the false storylines that intertwine in Trump’s preferred narrative of the last few years: Russia never tried to sabotage our political system on his behalf,” he writes.

“Trump expects and demands that Fox News hew to this propagandistic narrative entirely. But, even more to the point, he publicly and unabashedly tells his supporters that he expects and demands it.”

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“The whole point here is the open declaration that something meant to be a news network should function as his personal 24/7 propaganda and disinformation outlet,” Sargent writes. “It’s a double-fisted declaration of impunity: Trump must be immune from journalistic scrutiny and be permitted to operate and lie with absolute impunity, and he will publicly assert that an ostensibly journalistic institution should be entirely subservient to him with absolute, shameless impunity as well.”

Although Trump is hardly the first politician to lie, he’s taken misinformation to a whole new level.

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“This is a form of insidious corruption — corruption of our discourse. All politicians shade the truth; politics inescapably involves artifice of one kind or another,” Sargent observes.

“But most hew to some kind of underlying belief that gaslighting voters too shamelessly treats them with a form of deep contempt; that at some point, factual reality has to matter; that journalism plays a legitimate institutional role in restraining political dishonesty; and that all this is a necessary foundation for deliberative democracy to function.”


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Two House Democrats push a clever plan that calls Republicans’ bluff on their Biden attacks

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Democratic Reps. Katie Porter of California and Max Rose of New York introduced a clever plan this week that will expose whether Republicans’ criticisms of former Vice President Joe Biden in the Ukraine scandal reflect good faith — or if, as many assume, they are just a shameful distraction and a bluff.

The lawmakers announced a bill on Wednesday called the Transparency in Executive Branch Officials’ Finances Act. It has two key components:

First, it would require all politically appointed executive branch officials, as well as the president and the vice president, to “disclose any positions they or any members of their extended families hold with foreign-owned businesses, any intellectual property they own that is protected or enforced by a foreign country, and whether any members of their families have stakes in companies that engage in significant foreign business dealings.”Second, it will “require the President and Vice President to disclose their tax returns for the previous five taxable years and prohibit political appointees from accepting payments from foreign entities.”

What’s clever about the proposal is that it latches on to two important issues, creating a wedge for Republicans. As part of the GOP’s defense of President Donald Trump in the Ukraine scandal, Republicans have argued that the president’s patently corrupt efforts to get a foreign country to investigate Biden, a political rival, were legitimate because the former vice president’s son created a conflict of interest by taking part in business in Ukraine.

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Nancy Pelosi praised as ‘the only serious national leader’ in America — and Trump is ‘jealous’

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi was praised on Thursday for her leadership as she directed the House of Representatives to begin drafting articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

MSNBC's anchor Nicolle Wallace played a clip of the Speaker's press conference, where Pelosi strongly replied after a question on whether she hated Trump that was asked by James Rosen, who works for the right-wing Sinclair Broadcasting network.

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Contracts show how Giuliani-backed lawyers planned to help fired Ukraine prosecutor get revenge on Biden

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Newly revealed contracts obtained by the Daily Beast show that two lawyers backed by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani explicitly promised to help fired Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin regain his reputation by digging up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.

A contract written up by attorney Victoria Toensing this past April stated that Shokin would agree to pay Toensing and her husband, fellow attorney Joseph diGenova, $125,000 "for the purpose of collecting evidence regarding [Shokin’s] March 2016 firing as Prosecutor General of Ukraine and the role of then-Vice President Joe Biden in such firing, and presenting such evidence to U.S. and foreign authorities."

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