September 27, 2019

Vanity Fair author Gabe Sherman joined Lawrence O'Donnell last night to talk about the completely predictable and well-deserved self-inflicted chaos going on at Fox News. Now that President Putinpoodle is on the ropes for repeating his treasonous (and thoroughly impeachable) 2016 tactics of seeking foreign interference in our elections, poor Fox News is just beside itself. What with the in-fighting, the lack of a strong daddy figure/sexual assaulter in Roger Ailes, and the impending impeachment of impeachment against their dear leader, what's a propaganda-spewing, racist, misogynistic, gun-licking network to do?

SHERMAN: Yeah, really, Lawrence, this is a metaphor for what's happening inside the Republican party. I mean Fox News has been the propaganda arm of the Trump White House, and they're now faced with the prospect of, if he goes down they go down with him. So Paul Ryan, who joined the board of the parent company of Fox News has for months now been in the ear of Lachlan Murdoch, the CEO, telling him that the network has to cut ties. They have to appeal to a different kind of voter, chart a post-Trump future. And now that it appears that impeachment is on the horizon, this is that moment.

I'm definitely NOT the first person to say with a hint of sarcasm, "Gee. If only Paul Ryan had occupied a position of power, with which he could have helped the country out of this mess..."

Then Sherman and Lawrence moved on to the leadership vacuum at Fox.

SHERMAN: Now there is a leadership vacuum. There's no one in charge. No one quite knows which way this is all going to shake out, so you see this fighting on camera. At what point does the network, almost the most shocking part of my reporting today is that Sean Hannity in private has been telling people that the whistle-blower complaint is, quote, really, really bad for Donald Trump. And so you have Hannity on air still being a promoter for Donald Trump, but in private they know how bad this could get.

Again, and I hope you have your sarcasm-o-meter turned on for this post, here is my shocked face at the notion that Sean Hannity might be saying one thing behind the scenes, and doing something completely different to placate his bedtime phone buddy on the TV so their little night-time chats can be more cozy and their get-togethers less awkward.

Then, Sherman and O'Donnell bring everything around to the historical symmetry of the Ailes/Nixon, Ailes/Fox News, Fox News/Trump connections.

O'DONNELL: So the parallel universes of Fox News and the Trump White House, they both seem to be engulfed tonight in the same inability to respond to this situation.

SHERMAN: Yeah, the speed by which this has become a firestorm has just overwhelmed their ability to respond. I just think historical context to point out, this will be a test case, because Fox News was created for Republicans so that Watergate would never happen again. We are now entering what appears to be that Watergate moment, and will the power of Fox News be able to hold the line, or will the dam break and the Republican party have to let the sunlight in, which is that Donald Trump seems to have crossed all the lines of abuse of power here.

O'DONNELL: And the emotional significance of Watergate for Roger Ailes, who created Fox News, is Watergate — what drove Richard Nixon out of the presidency. Richard Nixon was the first candidate who Roger Ailes helped elect to the presidency, and then he helped elect a bunch of the Republicans.

SHERMAN: The circle has come all the way around.

What's that saying? I'm not actively wishing for someone's death, but I'm happy to read their obituary? Let's just say I hope I live long enough to read Fox News' obituary.

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