It’s a sound position to focus criticism of Trumpism on Trump, His Inner Circle, Principal Surrogates, and Media Defenders.
This sometimes includes Trumpism Down to the Local Level. (Those local officials across America who have this past decade spread sugary lies of boosterism during the Great Recession, during its aftermath, and during the opioid crisis are contemptibly culpable for the climate of dishonesty on which Trumpism so hungrily feeds. If local officials across America had told fewer lies this last decade, then some of our fellow citizens would not have become inured to the worst liar in American history.)
What, though, of Trump’s greatest media defenders at Fox News? This: they will not be enough to save Trump’s autocratic, bigoted, mendacious, and avaricious administration.
While it’s true that Fox has a strong grip on about half of all Republicans, Fox’s reach isn’t nearly so wide as the Murdochs (Rupert & Lachlan, principally) would want you to believe. That’s why, despite Fox’s all-out defense of Trump, support for impeachment and removal is growing.
Jack Shafer explains in The Incredible Shrinking Fox News (Don’t believe the hype. Rupert Murdoch and friends can’t reelect Trump by themselves’):
Without a doubt, Fox has amplified the Trump message over the first two years of his presidency, especially on Sean Hannity’s and Jeanine Pirro’s shows — and of course, Fox & Friends. And it’s true that Trump appears on the network with the frequency of a paid contributor, sitting for 41 interviews as president by the end of 2018, more than all the other major TV networks combined. And it’s worth mentioning that the network has defended the president from the Mueller investigation and other congressional and legal probes. But for all this plugging, Fox’s clout proved little help to Trump in the midterm elections, as the Democrats took the House of Representatives.
Fox’s minimal influence is easily explained. While it’s the most popular cable news network, it still draws only a niche audience. Socolow provides the numbers: On an average night, about 2.4 million prime-time viewers tune in, which is about 0.7 percent of the total U.S. population. “With numbers like these,” Socolow writes, “it’s no surprise that Fox News often chases its viewers rather than leading them. In other words: It’s more likely that Fox News caters to the preexisting partisanship of its small but loyal audience than that Fox News actually changes anybody’s mind.”
The hardest days are yet ahead, as Trump’s contempt for the American political tradition and his malignant narcissism mean there’s almost nothing he won’t do.
And yet, and yet, a political outer darkness awaits Trump and his inner circle. They’ll not escape it.