The Two Big Lessons of Dominion v. Fox
It's propaganda, not journalism—and its audience is willfully negligent.
Tomorrow night on the Bulwark livestream I’ll sit down with A.B. Stoddard and Bill Kristol to talk about the Fox settlement, the DeSantis campaign, and the rest of our national shirtshow.
Thursday, 8pm in the East.
Only for members of Bulwark+.
1. About Fox
We learned two lessons from the settlement of Dominion’s suit against Fox yesterday. One about Fox and one about its audience.
What is the difference between “media” and “propaganda”?
There are a lot of ways you could make this distinction. One of them might be:
A media outlet is an organization whose biases are constrained—either well or poorly—by self-imposed codes of conduct. A propaganda outlet is an organization whose pursuit of an agenda is constrained only by the law.
Fox’s statement yesterday made clear that it’s a propaganda outlet. Here’s the full text:
We are pleased to have reached a settlement of our dispute with Dominion Voting Systems. We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false. This settlement reflects FOX’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards. We are hopeful that our decision to resolve this dispute with Dominion amicably, instead of the acrimony of a divisive trial, allows the country to move forward from these issues.
Fox makes no admission that anything it broadcast was untrue—either willfully or even accidentally.
Fox refuses to correct its public untruths.1
And then Fox fully takes the piss by claiming that the settlement reflects its “continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards.” I’ve bolded “continued” and “highest” because these words are gratuitous except as middle fingers to the public.
It’s Orwellian. Even in defeat—even when the law forces the company to spend three-quarters of a billion dollars—Fox goes out of its way to do propaganda.
The Fox statement sounded a lot like another public statement put out yesterday.