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Fox News Is an Engine that Runs on Contempt

Its hosts secretly mocked the lies about the 2020 election that they cynically served their audience.
February 24, 2023
Fox News Thinks Its Viewers Are Rubes | Not My Party with Tim Miller

[Editor’s note: Watch Not My Party every week on Snapchat.]

Tim Miller: A Fox News lawsuit airs out their primetime hosts’ dirty laundry. You want—

Donald Trump (voiceover): Fake news.

Tim Miller: —I’ll show you—

Trump (voiceover): Fake news.

Marv Murchins (Daniel Stern in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York): My, how the tables have turned.

Tim Miller: This is “Not My Party,” brought to you by The Bulwark. This week, we got to see private text messages from the top players at Fox News as a result of the Dominion voting machines lawsuit against the network. It revealed that Fox News stars are even phonier than you thought and regard their audience as rubes who are too stupid to handle the truth.

Homer Simpson (from The Simpsons): That is so messed up.

Tim Miller: Trust me, this tea is piping hot. But first, a quick refresher on how we got here. In the critical period between the 2020 election and the January 6th siege at the Capitol, Fox News repeatedly aired segments accusing Dominion voting machines and Smartmatic software of fraud.

Tucker Carlson: We don’t know how many votes were stolen on Tuesday night. We don’t know anything about the software that many say was rigged. We don’t know.

Jeanine Pirro: And with the assistance of Smartmatic software, a back door is capable of flipping votes.

Laura Ingraham: We have to get to the bottom of all this and expose fraud where it occurred.

Mike Lindell: The machine fraud.

Rudy Giuliani: Dominion machine, that’s as filled with holes as Swiss cheese.

Nick Nelson (Kit Connor on Heartstopper): Yeah, seems legit.

Tim Miller: They paired that with a ton of “just asking questions” innuendo about the supposed stolen election.

Carlson (in separate video clips): Asking obvious questions is forbidden. . . . All of a sudden, you’re not allowed to ask sincere questions.

Pirro: Just asking questions.

Carol “Mom” Miller (from Futurama): Stop asking questions!

Tim Miller: Needless to say, all that was bullshit, but now, we know that they all knew it was bullshit.

Jon Flint (Hector Elizondo in Beverly Hills Cop III): Why am I not surprised?

Tim Miller: But Fox went along with it because they were scared that Tiny Hands Trump would ruin ’em, and they didn’t wanna trigger their own viewers’ sensibilities.

Peter Griffin (from Family Guy): Snowflakes.

Tim Miller: Here is Tucker in a text to his producer, saying that, “Trump is a demonic force,” and that he could “destroy” their show if they didn’t handle it right.

Reagan Ridley (from Inside Job): Fair and balanced.

Tim Miller: In a separate group text, Tucker tells his colleagues Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity that their viewers are good people who believe the insane and offensive lies being perpetrated on their network about the election.

Larry David (Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm): And I will shit where I eat.

Tim Miller: Quick aside: While this textual threeway might be a little awkward, I bet you didn’t know that the even juicier triad is the love triangle between Laura Ingraham and other conservative stars Ann Coulter and Dinesh D’Souza.

Dinesh D’Souza: Laura, I just don’t know what to make of it.

Gene Belcher (from Bob’s Burgers): Juicy!

Tim Miller: Back to the Ingraham-Hannity-Carlson group text. The host trio continues to trash the Trump allies who are pushing the conspiracy. Tucker calls Trump lawyer Sidney Powell a “lying” “fucking bitch.” Ingraham calls Rudy a “complete nut,” and Hannity calls him an “insane person.”

Bobby Hill (from King of the Hill): But I thought they were your best friends.

Tim Miller: This sentiment is echoed by the big boss, Rupert Murdoch, who sent an email saying Rudy is advancing “really crazy stuff.” All of that came in November of 2020, and despite everyone with influence thinking he was an insane liar, Rudy wasn’t kicked off air until this lawsuit was filed in the summer of 2021, long after the damage was done and the hysteria-fueled ratings were cashed in.

Enid Coleslaw (Thora Birch in Ghost World): It’s pretty sleazy.

Tim Miller: But that wasn’t the worst of it. These Fox hosts weren’t just lying to their viewers. They were actively sabotaging their colleagues who were trying to tell the truth. Jacqui Heinrich, a correspondent for the network, had the integrity to fact-check Trump’s false claims about Dominion in a tweet.

Waitress (Sara Giller on Grey’s Anatomy): Good for you.

Tim Miller: Unbeknownst to her, Tucker tried to fire her for this act of legitimate journalism. “Please get her fired. Seriously. . . . What the fuck?” he wrote to Hannity. She is “measurably hurting the company. The stock price is down,” he continued.

Jimmy Cooper (Tate Donovan on The O.C.): At least somebody has their priorities in order.

Tim Miller: The stock price is down? That’s what the highest-rated host in “news” cared about? Hannity was no better. He agreed with Tucker and replied that he had already complained to the CEO of the network about Heinrich. And in case you were wondering, Heinrich’s tweet has since been deleted.

Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini on The Sopranos): Well, naturally.

Tim Miller: This is sick, sick stuff. And in the week since these texts came out, nobody at Fox has been fired or reprimanded or even apologized.

Philip J. Fry (from Futurama): I am shocked, shocked! Well, not that shocked.

Tim Miller: For those who wanna jump into the “both sides zone” and claim that every network does this, consider the other cable news story this week. When Don Lemon made this sexist comment about Nikki Haley—

Don Lemon: Nikki Haley isn’t in her prime, sorry. . . . When a woman is considered to be in her prime, in her twenties and thirties.

Andrew Glouberman (from Big Mouth): Yeesh.

Tim Miller: —he at least chose to apologize, and he was forced by the network to attend a training and taken off air for a few days.

Diane Chambers (Shelley Long from Cheers): Seems appropriate.

Tim Miller: Wow, actually owning up to your mistakes. What a wild idea. Maybe the Fox crew could try it. We’ll see you next time for more “Not My Party.”

Tim Miller

Tim Miller is The Bulwark’s writer-at-large and the author of the best-selling book Why We Did It: A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell. He was previously political director for Republican Voters Against Trump and communications director for Jeb Bush 2016.