Fox News is funded by the Republicans

Government research

Published on • Filed under: Archive, Archive / Year 2019, Articles, Essays

Prof. Dr. Klaus Kampswho at the University of the Media in Stuttgart shows that the relationship between US President Donald Trump and Fox News goes beyond trending journalism. For example, Fox News presenter Sean Hannity has close contacts with the president and campaigned for Trump. How does the special relationship between the President and Fox News express itself and what does this close connection mean for citizens and politics?

January 2018, Hidalgo County, Texas. While in Washington the longest Government shutdown American history paralyzes political activity, the White House on the banks of the Rio Grandes, right across from Mexico, finds an idyllic opportunity to put the president in the right light on a detour to the southern states: dozens of bales of confiscated drugs, framed by armed border guards Grenzblick, mark Trump's claim to an emergency and the Wall. But the journalists immediately notice more than the camera-compatible stage design. When they are allowed to enter the scene, someone has long been there: Sean Hannity, Fox News presenter, chatting intimately among government officials

A president and (s) a broadcaster

Donald Trump and Fox News


Klaus Kamps is professor of communication science at the Stuttgart Media University. His research interests include the public, political communication, media politics and the USA.

January 2018, Hidalgo County, Texas. While in Washington the longest Government shutdown American history paralyzes political activity, the White House on the banks of the Rio Grandes, right across from Mexico, finds an idyllic opportunity to put the president in perspective on a detour to the southern states: dozens of bales of confiscated drugs, framed by armed border guards Grenzblick, mark Trump's claim to an emergency and the Wall. But the journalists immediately notice more than the camera-appropriate stage design. When they are allowed to enter the scene, someone has long been there: Sean Hannity, Fox News presenter, chatting confidently among government officials - and not, like the other media people, shielded from the crowd Secretservicebeyond the barrier. That too, if you will, is a clear message. Fox News and its figurehead: Part of the government team (Mayer 2019).

This probably only really surprised a few. While Trump has only granted a dozen interviews to the other major networks together in his presidency (CNN none), he can be seen almost weekly on Fox. That the relationship between Fox and the White House is taking The Donaldis more than “just” trending journalism of American origin, Hannity demonstrated impressively in October 2018. One day before the congressional elections, the Mid terms, he announced the president in Missouri (and with plenty of exuberance) on the speaker's platform - contrary to previous assurances that he would only report live from the campaign and not get involved. Immediately after Rush Limbaugh, a moderator with a penchant for (euphemistically) arch-conservative argumentative culture, Hannity appears on stage and prepares the waiting crowd for what is expected anyway. His first statement: "By the way, all those people in the back are fake news."1And that wasn't even meant to be funny. He then apologized - apologized, mind you, to some colleagues from Fox who were standing next to the “people in the back” and were apparently a bit indignant.

In fact, the question hardly arises if Fox News is still politically independent. But not only the (occasionally bizarre) forms of reporting on Trump in the White House are in question, but also the consequences of this closeness between government and broadcaster, which is unusual for Western democracies (and how it came about). A smaller, at least symbolic, impact on the next race for the presidency will then emerge in spring 2019: The Democrats exclude Fox as a “media partner” from the debates of their primaries. At least in style, the president immediately rushes to the side and tweets back: “Good, then I think I'll do the same thing with the Fake News Networks and the Radical Left Democrats in the General Election debates!” One might think of hermeneutics what you want. But it has a beautiful, central premise: In all human creations there is - meaning. To see if the president will find a suitable decree before the elections.

On the television boulevard

The creation of the cable broadcaster Fox News is often associated with the lifting of the Fairness Doctrine and the rise of the Conservative Talks Radios connected. Indeed, Fox becomes 1996 alsoalong the lines of the tabloid press that Rupert Murdoch built up in England and Australia as a television format that appeals to the "common people", workers and employees, against a liberal one Bias, a (supposed) left-leaning of the Mainstream media and at the same time the approach that has been so successful for years Talk radios von Rush Limbaugh has in mind - at least in some programs: critical of the state, polarizing, conservative to the core. Limbaugh started in Sacramento in 1984 with a local broadcaster that was his Call-in-show soon became very popular and began broadcasting nationwide in 1988 - one year after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) just those Fairness Doctrine had abolished.

Of course, older role models should be mentioned: they were already positioning themselves in the 1930s Chicago Tribuneor the New republic(and more) as anti-interventionist media outlets of a conservative opposition to the New Dealthat they demonize as a regulatory depotism. Already here is the thought that a malicious media mainstream systematically bracketed conservative positions - which would be devastating, after all, the dissemination of a (political) idea is as important as the idea itself. After the war, new media companies are formed that claim Facts - as opposed to the Liberal Media - to present accurately. Interestingly, you don't even want to follow a guideline of journalistic non-partisanship, you don't even play it. The editors of Human Eventsopenly declare to primarily take up topics and positions that the liberal media neglect. And they want to report from a party-political point of view - which does not contradict the usual journalistic standards, if only because their worldview is “correct” (and that doesn't matter from a distance) (Hemmer 2016, p. 33). In this way, a good dozen media companies were founded up to the 1960s, which, via magazines, books, journals, radio and later television, explicitly provided a network-like corrective to the harmful distortions of the Mainstreamswant to represent. When Fox News goes on air with its programmatic motto "Fair and Balanced" and long before Donald Trump enters the political stage, the criticism is of the dominant market Liberal Mediahas long been part of America's conservative DNA. "Annoy the Media: Re-elect George Bush" (Groelling 2008, p. 634) - such an election slogan from 1992: The idea of ​​opinion-oriented journalism as a kind of antidote has accompanied the history of media in the USA for generations.

One had actually imagined it differently. With the Radio Act From 1927 the regulation of broadcasting begins. What as Fairness Doctrine US media policy has been occupied for decades, is developing in stages and is essentially based on the idea that content-related regulation in broadcasting is as permissible as it is necessary because there is a public interest alongside private profit interests. Not everyone can grab the limited radio waves available. It would have to be ensured that the radio is not only used for entertainment; Nor should it be a propaganda instrument of a party or religious community or even a government. That sounds reasonably reasonable for post-war European ears. In America in the late 1920s, it is quickly being read as government patronage. In this way, the doctrine is suitable for decades as evidence of excessive state interventionism, bureaucratic nonsense and, even that, deprivation of liberty. How exactly should you guarantee fairness? The biggest problem was actually the practical implementation - to operationalize and guarantee a nightmare in day-to-day business "balance". Core concepts such as “fairness” or “controversial issues” and “adequate response options” (to criticism) remained largely fuzzy despite dozens of attempts. In the course of the de-regulation policy under Ronald Reagan, the FCC abolished the doctrine in 1987. It probably would not have had a direct impact on Fox News (because it did not extend to cable television), but this process is part of the media policy context of the creation of Fox News.

Above all, the transmitter is also a result of the channel differentiation made possible by cable and satellite technology in the mid to late 1990s. With the Gulf War of 1991, CNN maintains itself as a pure news broadcaster, despite prophecies of doom. In 1995 Rupert Murdoch then failed to take over CNN - and tried to found his own. Roger Ailes, the first President of Fox, joins the scene. He brings a decidedly conservative touch into play (Hemmer 2016, p. 265). Apparently Murdoch (economically) also started from the competitive strategy of “specialization” as a counterpart to the prevailing liberal power of opinion; Ailes, however, plays the party-political card as a trump card and develops a program that takes into account the fragmentation of the news audience and whose products at least in part (the Cable talks) are out not to irritate the worldview of their conservative audience, but to confirm their views - and not, for example, to maintain journalistic distance, to moderate and to cover “both sides of the story”. In short: product differentiation through political identity (paired with a dash of elite criticism).

The cable broadcasters struggled early on with a shrinking audience market. In the 1970s, the main evening news of terrestrial broadcasting reached (Broadcasting) still around 90 percent of (adult) Americans. And in 1993 - at least - around two thirds said they regularly tuned in to cable news; however, by 2004 this number had almost halved (Morris 2005). By 2002, Fox ousted CNN at the helm of cable television. The programmatic orientation is successful. The Fox Show took over a year earlier The O'Reilly Factor the top of the cable formats. From around 2004, the numbers then began to polarize viewers: Republican supporters or voters are now turning to Fox News and - this is important - starting to ignore other broadcasters and news formats (Morris 2005, p. 66). To date, various studies have shown this trend: Americans who identify with the Republican Party rely on it far more than others one News TV station: Fox. The station currently has around $ 2.7 billion in annual profits. The shows deliver the best ratings in the mornings and evenings. They define the conservative core of the broadcaster; In the morning Fox & Friends, it is initially in the evening The O'Reilly Factor and today Hannity. Such programs clearly show the difference to CNN, for example: In prime-time formats, reports and interviews predominate on CNN, while Fox reports very person-oriented, often openly partisan and consistently scandal-oriented and conflict-oriented.

An unloved president, at least

At the latest with the early determination of George W. Bush as the winner of Florida and thus the US presidential election in 2000, Fox is firmly committed to a conservative agenda in a relationship. Yet, a few years later, it is the opposition to the Democratic presidency of Barack Obama that gives this relationship a lot of momentum. Because Obama “inherits” with the financial crisis of 2008 (and overcoming it) Tea Party: An extraordinarily suitable platform for the broadcaster to further anchor emotional news reporting in the conservative milieu. Murdoch and Ailes initially defend themselves against the emerging criticism of trending journalism and assert that they would not support any party, not even that party Tea party. But that soon only takes away their own clientele - if at all. Limbaugh and Hannity seem to be adopting the movement. Events like theMarch on Washington are discussed in detail - and advertised and give the protests a high media presence. A media journalist from Los Angeles Times: "Fox has been building up to the protests with Super Bowl-style intensity. Promos promise 'powerful' coverage of an event that will 'sweep the nation' ”(quoted in Brock et al. 2012, p. 112). Hannity moves his show to tea party events at times, and that's just the logistical part. You quickly notice that an advertising window is opening here. TheTea partybrings the broadcaster the highest ratings.

Now one can understand why a re-framing of the “free market” should be aimed for as a political concern in the crisis. Here, however, a broadcaster in journalistic news formats shifts to it - with a long list of "narratives", the main tenor of which is the near demise of America ("the end of America as we know it"), for which "Washington" is responsible, primarily that liberal Washington, of course (but also conservative politicians who are prone to questionable, un-American compromises). There are many connections and stories to this in virtually every policy area, e. B. in that of the eco-terrorists, who with their control and regulation and the tyranny of renewable energy simply cost jobs. Fox is able to tell the financial crisis in many facets very personally and offers integration and identity for those who have somehow lost the American dream.

You don't have to go very far to identify the core of all evil with Barack Obama in the White House. A few days before Obama's inauguration, Rush Limbaugh sets the route: "I hope he fails" (Brock et al. 2012, p. 92). On day two, a "disappointed" Hannity does not see anything of the promised Change: "Socialism has failed". Day three brings Laura Ingraham to the realization that the country has by no means become safer under Obama. Day four saw the hoax that Obama officially had the Was on terror declared over. On the first weekend of the presidency, Fox News host Mike Huckabee sighs and wonders if this is really the change the country has opted for. Finally, on Sunday, Brit Hume Obama gave Obama a piece of advice of special kind: “You can't break all your campaign promises” (ibid.). You want to write a book about it.

Fox was still something of a confident man in the Bush presidency cheerleader, the broadcaster is now forming a mobilization platform against Obama. Politically, the health reform will soon be the focus of criticism - which is not particularly surprising, since the reform has everything that is for, viewed from the conservative side Big Government, Patronage of free citizens, socialist regulation mania and ludicrous redistribution policy is in place. Fox becomes a political actor here at the latest and calls, among other things. to protests. Glenn Beck speaks of an “endgame”, a “fundamental transformation of America” (Brock et al. 2012, p. 14): The right caliber, after all, Obama is striving for far-reaching changes in health policy.

The Fox protest, on the other hand, is a blueprint for a fundamental problem, including one of democratic politics. On the one hand, the health reform is an exceptionally complex, ideologically charged project that can (and will) be told in a concise, understandable, realistic way and from dozens of perspectives, and the details of which then give way to the emotionally haunting plot. With the criticism of the reform, a multifaceted and apparently factual fundamental opposition can be pursued. Second, it follows that viewers who are in such Policies Rely on Fox (and on the actors who have their say), often harboring completely wrong ideas: For example, at the time almost three-quarters of Fox viewers believed - wrongly - that Obama's plan would grant illegal migrants and American citizens exactly the same care .A long list of such assumptions could be made here Obamacarelist (which has been found similar to other Obama's plans). A climax that kept the reform in the headlines for months became a facebook-Sarah Palin's contribution, which Fox picked up on and did not let go of so quickly: That in future the government or government commissions would decide when, in critical circumstances, vital equipment should be turned off or important medications should be omitted. These Death panels- which shouldn't exist, which around three quarters of Fox viewers believed - dominated the discussion for months.

In addition to the economic crisis and the health care reform, the Birther-Topic: the (conspiracy) theory that Barack Obama was not born in the USA and thus a usurper of the White House. The "idea" has been in the room since the beginning of the Obama presidency, but interestingly enough, Fox initially didn't like it. Glenn Beck calls the "Birther" "idiots", Bill O'Reilly "confused" (quoted in Brock et al. 2012, p. 252). The story doesn't initially make a career - until March 2011, Donald Trump was a frequent guest on the morning show Fox & Friends appears. He is promoting a new season of his show Celebrity Apprentice: Which is legitimate, but needs to be relined somehow in talk format, e.g. B. with a political controversy. And Trump can "Birther" like no other. The quotes just fall out of his mouth, for example: "Obama's family doesn't even know what hospital he was born in" (quoted in Mayer 2019). With Trump, an understanding Hannity is now also swinging in line: the circumstances are also "odd" (ibid.). Why isn't the White House coming out with the certificate? The “theory” lasts for weeks. Somehow there had to be a catch with Obama. Even when the President asks the authorities to publish the document (which happens then), there is no rest. In a way Showdownwith unpredictable consequences at the time (animosity that came into effect late), Obama tried at the end of April 2011 on the White House Correspondents ’Dinner, in the presence of Trump, to bury the matter in a humorous way. Vain. Years later, Trump claims that the document could be a forgery. Long live the subjunctive.

Eight years of Obama’s presidency: One could cite a long list of similar and more serious political incidents, such as the reports on the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in the fall of 2012 - which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton followed through to the election campaign. Mention should be made of Glenn Beck's allegation (July 2009) that Obama was a hateful racist: “This president, I think, has exposed himself as a guy, over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture ”(quoted in Brock et al. 2012, p. 143). Or the assertion upheld by Fox that natural scientists do not agree on whether there is climate change. In short: Fox is not “just” a critical, conservative broadcaster in the Obama presidency. The New Yorker quotes Ailes in a background report of the time: "I want to elect the next president" (quoted in Mayer 2019). The news channel sees itself not only as an opinion-oriented niche journalism, but also as a social movement, as an opposition. Fox doesn't just work for the Conservatives; it is also reciprocal: the Conservatives work for Fox.

During the Obama years, the country's political television audience settled on an island paradise. Barack Obama himself speaks of a "Balkanization", no common place, no exchange (Niederberger 2016, p. 183): People stay among themselves, tune in, which confirms their worldview. That is a bit overdrawn, but in fact a polar world is developing in which conservative Americans in particular are content with Fox and are less and less reached by other journalistic content. And at some point, around 2012, the station finally got something like the exclusive rights over (arch) conservative America, which Trump later needs and plays on (but that was difficult at first). The former niche is no longer that small. And with the success of this orientation, conservatives can finally be (relatively) certain: Here we are not confronted with unpleasant criticism - if the positions are sharp enough. At the latest with the Mid termsIn 2012 it is mandatory for Republican candidates to enter the Talks to be invited by Fox. The station becomes the kingmaker. Dick Morris, Political Advisor, takes part Fox & Friendsan almost historical motto: "You don’t win Iowa in Iowa. You win it on this couch "(quoted in Hemmer 2016, p. 273).

Candidacy, Tabloid style

Trump's announcement to run for the presidency is initially (also in the Republican camp) under suspicion of being just a marketing gag. The candidacy is also initially eyed rather than promoted by Fox, even Murdoch's Wall Street Journal at the beginning of the primaries even decidedly against Trump. Murdoch and Ailes seem to have bet on Marco Rubio until around January 2016.

However, one also observes how the right-wing conservative network side BreitbartGenerates enormous click rates with Trump. He is quickly regarded as a click guarantee and quickly receives the greatest attention from the press as well as from the electronic media - and remains the most popular candidate throughout the entire campaign period Earned media achieved (Patterson 2016). At the same time, he is step by step at the head of the republican circle of candidates: With an election campaign that will be difficult to beat in the future with its freelance descriptions of opponents and rumbling, threatening verbal jurias, the previously known forms of Negative campaigning to overshadow. The focus on Trump becomes a question of the economy. All cable channels and also those Broadcasterbenefit from it: As early as February 2016, Leslie Moonves, the head of CBS, said in an interview: "It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS". (Shrill, subversive, destructive and scandalous - that's the Bias American media not "liberal" but "negative".)

At Fox, Trump's style makes Roger Ailes nervous at first. He is considered Wild card. The broadcaster is first exploring it, and so it can be explained that Megyn Kelly, Fox News presenter, questioned Trump critically in an early debate in the Republican primaries, to critical for The Donald. He rumbles vulgar and boycotted the station for a short time (until he was assured that he would be “fairer” with him in the future). Above all, Sean Hannity supports him early on and gives the unusual candidate media advice. Roger Ailes then has to leave Fox on allegations of sexual harassment, and now all reluctance has fallen. Even during the election campaign - as later in the presidency - Hannity often phoned the candidate (some say every day): "No problem," he explains to the New York Times, he never claimed to be a journalist (quoted in n. Wilson 2018, p. 208).

Despite all the negativity: In the end, two dominate Issuesthe race. Trump is violently confronted with character issues, but then politically associated with migration policy - which reads factually, but was borne by stereotypes, xenophobia and prejudices, as well as fear of the future and uncertainties. Hillary Clinton's topic that sticks to her is the emails: On the one hand, the homemade problem of using an insecure, private server during her tenure as Secretary of State; on the other hand, the hacking and the successive publication of scandalous emails from the democratic party in the height of the election campaign. One could mention various allegations of corruption against the Clinton Foundation or the so-called Lolita Express, the ugly accusations of pedophilia throughout Rigth Wing MediaTriggers complex against the Clintons.

In Fox's behavior in this election campaign, two things stand out among all that we can expect so far. First, Hannity pursues the idea with verve that the Democrats are hacking their emails Inside job was (and not "the Russians") - committed by Seth Rich, a Democrat employee who was murdered in Washington. The crime has not yet been resolved, and so the conspiracy narrative remains one Cover up long and will not be shut down until 2017, when Rich's parents sharply criticized the station in public and advertisers began to demonstratively turn away. Second, shortly before the election, Fox is holding back information on Donald Trump's Stormy Daniels affair. A reporter who had been researching since the spring of 2016 is repeatedly put off, and it will take until 2017 before the public of Catch and kill deal of National Enquirer learns with Daniels. (The Enquirer buys the exclusive rights to the story, but then does not publish anything.)

Journalistic standards? Alisyn Camerota, a television presenter, commented on this Fox & Friendsswitched to CNN: "The single phrase I heard over and over was' This is going to outrage the audience!" You inflame the viewers so that no one will turn away. Those were the standards "(quoted in Mayer 2019). In the 2016 election campaign, it was felt that Fox left the boundaries of journalism behind. A point has been reached where the broadcaster and its reporters can, in principle, do what they want, since they don't pay a journalistic price for it. Flawed? Not correct? Tendentious? There is no institutionalized error control. The only corrective known so far: advertisers who find it too colorful.

Parallel worlds, divided worlds

It should hardly surprise us that Sean Hannity was behind closed doors in the White House Shadow Chief of Staff is mentioned (Mayer 2019): He himself claims to colleagues that he calls the president practically every evening. Trump, in turn, apparently (like his son-in-law Jared Kushner) often talks to Rupert Murdoch, whom he has known since the 1970s. Contact and personal ties are the pillars of the Special Relationship from Trump and Fox. For example, from July 2018 to March 2019, Bill Shine, former Fox Vice President, Director of Communications (and at the same time deputy chief of staff) in the White House (ibid.). National Security Advisor John Bolton, like his short-term deputy, Kathleen McFarland, previously Fox commentator, was not an easy one Call-in-Job, mind you: Bolton reported an income of over half a million dollars for 2017 through his appearances at Fox alone (Woodward 2018, p. 87). And the relationship also works the other way round: Bill Shine's predecessor, Hope Hicks, has been in charge of the public relations department at 21 since the beginning of 2019stCentury Fox.

As a matter of course, the staff can be translated into political argumentation. Sebastian Gorka, also a former Trump advisor and now a regular guest at Fox, celebrates the funding of Trump's Mexico Wall, which has been criticized elsewhere, as a “masterpiece”. Which brings us to the first category of the strategic use of this special relationship, that Spin. Together with the Twist, the Counter narratives, the Common battles and the Mouthpiece he forms the backbone of presidential communications at Fox.

The Spinturns everything that comes up in favor of the president. As mentioned, the financing of the “Wall” was achieved through a compromise with which the Government shutdownhas been repealed, questioned even in conservative circles. Hannity, on the other hand, attests to the president's leadership qualities, having successfully fought the swamp in Washington. The Southgerman newspaper to: "If Trump called a horse to the Supreme Court, that would be the occasion for Sean Hannity to praise the extraordinary wisdom of the president." (Zaschke 2019) That is, CNN jokes, by the way, the best strategy to go to Mar-a- Lago to be invited: To praise Trump over the clover, and be it, so in turn South German, by means of “permanent undermining of truth” (ibid.).

The twistis also known as double standards. At Fox, this means in essence: What was the syndrome of a doomed socialist attempt for Obama, is an indication of cleverness and foresight for Trump. If you want to take a closer look at this change, we recommend a four-minute video on Twitter that Now This News published in April 2019: a compilation of Fox's reviews - of Obama. He is on the golf course too much (which costs a lot of money), too active on Twitter (unworthy of a president), only has his constituencies in view, has the insolence to criticize his predecessors, behaves like one Schoolyard Bullythat he did not understand complicated things, could not really speak convincingly, yes, he regularly misused his tone and drove the division of society forward, apart from the fact that he disregarded laws and acted like a dictator with his decrees, he did not tolerate criticism and - last of all - also have the chutzpah, Fox Accusing double standards.

The Counter narrativesor also: the Counter-narrationtakes one aspect of a topic and offers a different reading. In detail, this works as a Framing.For example, there is no talk of immigration being at a 15 year low, no, it is Invasion. (Incidentally: in October 2018, the coverage of a "horde" of migrants from Central America approaching the border turned out to be the ratings hit of the year, even better than the presidential campaign at the time.) Somewhat more elaborate, it is about more complex interpretative sovereignty. For example, Fox cannot of course ignore the Mueller investigation. But one can use the investigations as evidence for the Deep State to sell; and that does not mean the television series, but the theory that secret services and other bureaucrats would conspire in secret to impose their will on elected politicians like Trump. The Counter-narration, in this case, tries to discredit employees of the Müller investigation (Benkler et al. 2018). Trump is not corrupt, it is those who stalk him so forcefully. Deep State basically accompanied the investigation since May 2017, i.e. since the dismissal of James Comey and the appointment of Mueller as a special investigator. The Counter-narration also offers alternatives: The only collusion that exists with Russia is actually an affair of the Clintons: Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, sold almost 20 percent of America's fissile uranium to Russia - in return for fantastic donations to them Clinton Foundation. And this US nuclear sell-off would be ripped off by the other media in a gigantic way Cover upcovered. With Hannity, Sebastian Gorka compares himself to the fact that all of this corresponds to the treason of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg during the Cold War - and that they were at least sentenced to death. In a typical one pick upTrump takes up the topic two days later: "Uranium deal to Russia, with Clinton help and Obama Administration knowledge, is the biggest story that Fake Media doesn't want to follow!" (quoted in Mayer 2019)

On the presidential Tweet can in turn be used in the message cycle, which brings us to the very basic moment of the Mouthpiece would be: He just repeats everything the President says. When the going gets tough, it goes straight into the act Common battlesabove. For example, Fox uses what one may perhaps call the reflex of revenge when Trump feels relieved after the publication of the Mueller report. Sean Hannity: “We will hold every shadow state official who has abused its power accountable. (...) We will hold every liar in Congress accountable. "(Quoted in Spiegel online 2019)

One may think that this is strong stuff or overreaching. Basically, however, Fox first experienced a paradox during the Trump presidency and then, to a certain extent, a radicalization of his own business model: the resentment against the “elites” in Washington. Suddenly you are sitting in the government boat yourself, and of course there is one Deep State as an explanation for why the criticism of the president and the talk of impeachment simply cannot be stopped. Here mutually driving partners act in the spirit. A servile propaganda organization looks different.

Incidentally, the relationship between Trump and Fox also has a media-political component: In June 2018, the US government approved the sale of Fox's entertainment division to Disney - a multi-billion dollar deal that Trump has already congratulated Murdoch on. beforethe Ministry of Justice approved the trade as unobjectionable under antitrust law. A month later, on the other hand, the Federal Communications Commission(FCC) purchasing the Tribune Media Company through the Sinclair Broadcast Group- a competitor of Fox in the milieu of the conservative news media. In addition, the Ministry of Justice is defending itself - but in vain - against the connection of A.T. & T. and Time Warner(2014 had 21stCentury Fox tried in vain Time Warnerto take over). Officially, the White House does not interfere in these processes - sources informally report to the New Yorker that it was a personal concern of Trump to prevent the merger, after all it was too good for CNN (Mayer 2019).

The Propaganda Feedback Loop

Other presidents already had "their" media. James Madison was openly supported by the majority of New York newspapers, and Andrew Jackson, who was the first populist US president in the history books, had a dozen or so publishers among his advisors. For many liberal media outlets, Kennedy and Obama were obviously a better choice than their political opponents: Probably, all presidents show a closeness to one or the other media organ.

It should also be noted that Fox actually does not meet all Republican politicians with anticipatory sympathy; even in the current presidency, examples can be given of Trump employees or advisors being “grilled” in the Fox studio. In this respect: don't we have to see all of this in relative terms? Isn't the broadcaster just a bit heavily conservative, a mirror of its clientele and resisting a liberal one Biasother media? Joe Peyronnin, a former Fox News Manager, sees more than a simple inclination: "I've never seen anything like it before. It's as if the President had his own press organization. It's not healthy "(quoted in Mayer 2019).

What emerges in what has been said so far was also called Propaganda Feedback Loop (Benkler et al. 2018, p. 79). Fox relies on one ideological Strategy that focuses on events and positions that follow resentments that create identity and that speaks to a strict ingroup-outgroup thinking:Us against them.This includes presenting competing media, which report more balanced, as implausible, and with permanence. In turn, an audience that is interested in the confirmation of their political ideas will at some point adopt the unbelievability thesis and stay with Fox. Political actors see that this is happening on a large scale, and they orient themselves (strategically certainly not entirely wrong) to positions that they can assume will find a place in this environment and be accepted - by the broadcaster as well as by the audience. This is a dynamic, self-reinforcing process in which, sooner or later, the more extreme positions prevail (because they generate more attention). This process has a polarizing effect, the loop is a continuous loop, embedded in a mutually citing “right-wing media ecosystem” (Benkler et al. 2018, p. 97).

This is followed by an ideological “firmness” of political attitudes, whatever Re-Inforcement is mentioned: Those who are already strongly polarized avoid other opinions all the more - and stabilize their aversion. However, this does not apply to all sections of the population. Research shows that people who are particularly interested in politics tend to perceive opposing opinions and positions (Benkler et al. 2018, p. 80) - just as the problem discussed here is in and of itself reflected in America.

Overall, however, even in an international comparison, Americans' trust in their media is extremely low (Swift 2016), especially among conservatives. But they have a clear favorite:In Fox we trust. Eighty-eight percent of Republicans trust Fox News, while Democratic supporters tend to prefer a mix of news channels and do not commit as much (Mourao 2018). While viewers of the so-called liberal media - predominantly Democrats from the party inclination - see their distrust of Trump confirmed there (which may be in the nature of the matter), Fox's supporters develop a pronounced aversion to practically all other media. Their selective information repertoire is - generally speaking - more pronounced than that of democrats (ibid.). The polarization of US society tends to be driven more by the conservative side (Morris 2005) - and Fox News is one force (among others) of this Tribal Politics.

“Fair and Balanced” - the station's motto will be updated in June 2017 after Roger Ailes left by “Real News. Real honest opinion ”replaced. Disarming, somehow, this reference to reality. In the meantime, even Republican critics of the president are rarely invited to the shows. In 2009 Hannity had a liberal co-host.

One remembers: A high degree of heterogeneity of values ​​is normal in large modern societies. The deliberative democracy begins with a culture of tolerance that allows arguments, but does not demonize the other opinion. It needs access to information and analysis, public platforms for reflection on points of view. The social philosopher Karl R. Popper once put it in the same way: If there were no Babel, it would have to be invented. An extremely pragmatic idea, seen in the light, an arch-liberal idea of ​​the Enlightenment: Instead of the absolute truth claim of a political opinion comes the idea of ​​diverse publicity. Diverse publicity? Fox exchanges them with the folk hero. In this case, as some fear, also in the form of a counter-narrative to decency and reason.

A broadcaster and (s) a president

According to a survey by Washington Post As of August 2017, 47 percent of Republicans believe Donald Trump has that too Popular vote won, that is, achieved the majority of the absolute votes - which is not the case. 68 percent are certain that millions of illegal immigrants would have voted for Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, and somehow logically more than half think that they can think about postponing the 2020 elections if the problem of electoral fraud is not under control (Kakutani 2018, p. 27).

Postpone elections? You don't have to be Fox to think like that alone make responsible. But Fox is possibly not just a kind of catalyst for the Trump presidency, but also serves a vacuum that should not actually exist in the White House: politics (or at least content). It becomes noticeable z. B. on March 4, 2017. Trump tweeted: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama has my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism! ”(Quoted in Benkler 2018, p. 153). Shortly before had it Fox & Friends dealt with the "National Security Establishment", and an "expert" there raised the possibility that the Obama administration may have had Trump's campaign team wiretapped.

Matt Gertz from Media Matters investigates such reactions from Trump Fox & Friends. From August 2018 to March 2019, the President responded more than 200 times to points that were problematized in the program with tweets.2 And that's just the morning show. One is approaching PolicyFunction. Fox proposes positions, Fox defends arguments, Fox rejects entire policy programs. So the sender has z. B. in Shut downencourages the president to reject all compromises - practically as an advocate for his clientele. When Trump watches Fox News (and he often does), he sees it Fly-over states. When then in the scramble for the Shut down According to Mike Pence, a “deal” was practically wrapped up, but Trump rejected it after the trade was extensively and violently “problematized” in various Fox programs (Mayer 2019). This is political exchange among like-minded people, a White House-Fox-News-Twitter-Fox-News-White House cycle.

Of course, this goes far beyond trending journalism. Trump may consider the expertise of his bureaucracy to be rather low compared to the moderators, namely expertise with a view to the America that he wants to win in 2020. And maybe he trusts the personal advice from Hannity & Co - be it on the phone, be on the virtual Talk given - more than the decision-making processes in the West Wing.

It is said of Frederick the Great that in the end he became extremely suspicious of everything and (almost) everyone and finally trusted his valet alone - and he became enormously influential through it. Such cabinets, literally vestibules for power, are widespread. And sure, maybe the picture is limping, but the notion of Fox News as the valet of The Donald carries much of this essay: the American spectacle unfolds also against the background of a highly unusual relationship for a news broadcaster and a democratic government. Is it not just a question of a return or a stronger emphasis on party-political-subjective reporting?

Probably not: What can be observed in this connection is the introduction of a new political tradition of thought, a crisis in the transfer of knowledge in industrial societies, a dangerously arbitrary attitude towards research, discourse and information - without a recognizable corrective. And one does not have to immediately recall the informal compulsion of the better argument (Habermas): In influential parts of the American public, diversity and plurality of opinion is an almost succinctly filed relic from a world of yesterday. And Fox News is a key element of this Post Truth Politics: A political culture that divides the country, a conjunctive republic in which all rumors and eventualities are then worth a message, a statement, a comment and an interview if they are part of the "tribal narrative" (Benkler et al. 2018, P. 221). And the president listens.


Benkler, Y. et al. (2018). Network propaganda. Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics. New York: Oxford University Press.

Brock, D. et al. (2012). The Fox Effect. How Roger Ailes Turned a Network into a Propaganda Machine. New York: Anchor Books.

Groelling, T. (2008). Who’s the Fairest of them All? An Empirical Test for Partisan Bias on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox News. In Presidential Studies Quarterly 38 (4), 631-657.

Hemmer, N. (2016). Messengers of the Right. Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Kakutani, M. (2018). The Death of Truth. Notes on Falshood in the Age of Trump. New York: Duggan Books.

Mayer, J. (2019). The Making of the Fox News White House. The New Yorker, March 11, 2019.

Morris, J.S. (2005). The Fox News Factor. In The International Journal of Press / Politics, 10 (3), pp. 56-79.

Mourao, R. R. et al. (2018). Media Repertoires and News Trust During the Early Trump Administration. In Journalism Studies 19 (3), pp. 1945-1956.

Niederberger, W. (2016). Trumpland. Donald Trump and the USA. Zurich: orell füssli

Patterson, T. E. (2016). News coverage of the 2016 General Election. How the Press Failed the Voters. Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.

Spiegel online, March 27, 2019,

Swift, A. (2016): Americans' Trust in Mass Media Sinks to New Low. " Gallup, September 14th

Wilson, R. (2018). Everything Trump Touches Dies. New York et al .: Free Press.

Woodward, B. (2018). Fear. Trump in the White House. New York et al .: Simon & Schuster.

Zaschke, C. (2019). Down to business, honey. In Süddeutsche Zeitung v. 7.2.2019.

Citation note:

Kamps, Klaus (2019): Ein President und (s) ein Sender, Donald Trump and Fox News, Essay, published on: Available online:

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Donald Trump, Fox News, media democracy, media politics, presidency, USA