But nobody died at Dominion. Nobody’s life and family were turned upside-down at Dominion by being thrown into prison for sedition and insurrection. Nobody at Dominion was hospitalized or committed suicide because of the injuries they received at the hands of an angry mob Fox helped incite.
While Dominion had a strong legal case against Fox for lying on the air and harming their business, the families of Ashli Babbitt, Anthony Antonio, three dead and over 140 injured police officers, and patriotic Americans across the country have an even stronger moral case.
The January attempt to overthrow the American government and install Trump as a dictator for life didn’t happen in a vacuum. Media Matters for America reported:
“[I]n the two weeks after Fox News called the election for Biden, Fox News cast doubt on the results of the election at least 774 times.”
While Ashli Babbett shared over 8,600 tweets about the “stolen election,” the first was to Trump himself on election day, according to The Washington Post:
“Today we save America from the tyranny, collusion and corruption,” she tweeted to the President.
The Post added:
“She was an avid viewer of Fox News, praising Tucker Carlson and other far-right media personalities on the network as she derided their liberal targets.”
Babbitt believed in her cause.
Given what Fox “News” had been broadcasting during the nine weeks between the election and Babbitt’s death in the Capitol she had good reason to feel she was a true patriot, part of a revolt against corrupt political power as genuine as the one the Founders declared on July 4, 1776.
National Public Radio noted that Lou Dobbs, in a conversation with Ted Cruz three weeks before the January 6th attack, suggested that Democrats insisting Joe Biden won the election were committing treason:
“The Democrats have been trying to both block his presidency, to overthrow his presidency through impeachment, as well as absolute, in my judgment, treason on the part of a number of government officials, the deep state, if you will.”
A week after the election, on November 10th, Shawn Hannity told his audience:
“We saw blatant election-law violations in state after state.”
On the 11th, Hannity said:
“While the very frail, the very weak, cognitively struggling Joe Biden is probably fast asleep in his basement bunker, dreaming of picking out drapes for the Oval Office, well, investigations continue in multiple key states — where hundreds now of sworn affidavits are being filed, lawsuits are being filed, alleging serious election misconduct.”
And on December 3rd, a month before the insurrection, he opened his Fox show with:
“Tonight, we are tracking multiple stories, serious allegations of election irregularities all across the country tonight — a lot of news tonight.”
Lara Trump, Eric’s wife, told Shawn Hannity’s audience a month after the election:
“I want to make it clear to the American people — this is not over. So, don’t for a second think that Joe Biden is going to be sworn in on Jan. 20th.”
Three days before the Electoral College vote was to be certified on January 6th, Fox host and rightwing hate radio superstar Mark Levin told his Fox viewers:
“If we don’t fight on January 6th on the floor of the Senate and the House — that is the joint meeting of Congress — on these electors, we’re done. … They’re trying to reverse the course of the election. They’re trying to take the franchise away from the people.
“Let me be abundantly clear about this. … On January 6 we learn whether our constitution will hold and whether the Republicans care. Let me be clear. Article II Section 1 to the United States Constitution, and we have talked about it here before, has been intentionally violated, eviscerated by the Democratic Party and the United States Supreme Court which is sitting on its quills and pins.”
If you heard that and believed it, wouldn’t you want to show up and try to save America?
These people didn’t consider themselves criminals, and after Marjorie Taylor Greene visited them in jail and told them they were heroes for what they did, they probably are convinced of the righteousness of their cause all over again.
Consider the case of 27-year-old Anthony Antonio — another person with his entire life ahead of him but now heading for prison — to whom Fox “News” should apologize.
He’d been largely non-political most of his life, his lawyer told ABC News, but when he lost his job at the start of the pandemic he found himself locked down and isolated at home with his three roommates.
Which was when he discovered Fox “News.” His attorney, Joseph Hurley, said:
“By that point in his life he had never been acquainted with Fox. He knew very little about Trump. He had nothing to do but sit with these guys during the day and watch Fox; six hours, eight hours a day. He became infected with the misinformation provided by them and he became an ally of this person Trump.”
Antonio first followed Fox’s skepticism of Covid and after the election became convinced — from watching hours of Fox, according to his attorney — that Democrats were stealing the country right out in the open. As attorney Hurley told a federal judge at Antonio’s arraignment for attacking police on January 6th at the Capitol:
“He became hooked with what I call ‘Foxitus’ or ‘Foxmania’ and became interested in the political aspect and started believing what was being fed to him.”
In yesterday’s settlement we also didn’t hear a word about the lying Fox hosts or the Murdoch family apologizing to 42-year-old Capitol police officer Brian D. Sicknick, a who died from his injuries.
Or Rosanne Boyland, Kevin D. Greeson, or Benjamin Phillips, who all thought they were doing the right and patriotic thing but died at the Capitol that day.
Or even Cesar Sayoc, the man who was convicted of sending bombs to 16 Democrats including Barack Obama, George Soros, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Maxine Waters, and Eric Holder — all regular bogeymen routinely vilified on Fox “News.”
His attorney told the judge who sentenced him to 20 years in prison:
“He began watching Fox News religiously at the gym, planning his morning workout to coincide with Fox and Friends and his evenings to dovetail with Hannity. Mr. Sayoc’s family had historically been Democrats and this was Mr. Sayoc’s first foray into politics. … Through these actions, Mr. Sayoc found the sense of community that he had been missing for so many years.”
The brilliance of Rupert Murdoch — from his early Australian and UK media enterprises to his partnership with Roger Ailes to launch Fox “News” — has been his ability to create that very sense of community around shared victimhood.
Tucker Carlson tells white men there’s a nefarious plot afoot, implying it’s funded by international Jews like George Soros, to “replace” them with Black and Brown people:
“In political terms, this policy is called ‘the great replacement,’ the replacement of legacy Americans with more obedient people from far-away countries. They brag about it all the time, but if you dare to say it's happening, they will scream at you with maximum hysteria.”
There’s an old saying that we’re more often defined by our enemies than by our friends. Murdoch and Fox know this well. By defining a threat and then pointing to a specific group — it must be a social minority to work, as Hitler showed the world — you can create a subculture of victimhood, a cadre of resistance, a dedicated base and audience of followers who will buy your advertisers’ products and jack up your ratings.
The only problem is that by animating people with hate and fear you’re also triggering them to violence and destruction, both of society and themselves.
The vast majority of politically-inspired violence and murders in America over the past two decades have been committed by rightwing extremists, and, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, over half of them were identifiably motivated by the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory Carlson pushes on Fox.
As then-21-year-old Patrick Crusius, the shooter who murdered 23 Hispanics (and wounded 23 others) in El Paso on August 3, 2019, wrote in his manifesto:
“This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas. They are the instigators, not me. I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.”
Fox “News” and the Murdochs owe an apology to a hell of a lot more people than just Dominion.
Just a week after the January 6th insurrection, James Murdoch, son of Rupert and brother of Lachlan, told The Financial Times about the consequences of media operations lying about the 2020 election:
“Spreading disinformation — whether about the election, public health, or climate change — has real world consequences.
“Many media property owners have as much responsibility for this as the elected officials who know the truth but choose instead to propagate lies. We hope the awful scenes we have all been seeing will finally convince those enablers to repudiate the toxic politics they have promoted once and forever.”
Clearly his father and brother weren’t listening.