Fox News spent Friday spewing alternative facts and throwing shiny objects at the camera to distract viewers from the latest indictments in the Russia investigation.
Fox has played a key role in denying, deflecting, minimizing, and covering up damning evidence about anything Russia-related, while also leading Trump’s ongoing smear campaign against the intelligence community and regularly providing a platform for Trump stooges like Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).
True to form, Fox News was determined to spin the latest round of indictments in the Russia probe into ‘good news’ for Trump, who remains at the center of an ongoing investigation into potential coordination with Russians seeking to influence the 2016 election.
When news broke Friday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team had indicted over a dozen Russian individuals and three Russian organizations for their role in a broad effort aimed at “supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald Trump and disparaging Hillary Clinton,” Fox personalities went into a collective meltdown, frantically trying to decide which narrative to peddle to their viewers.
Lou Dobbs declared the indictment “good news” for Trump, saying the announcement meant there was “no evidence of collusion” and thus there was no basis for a criminal investigation.
Sean Hannity jumped on the “no collusion” bandwagon, falsely claiming that the 37-page indictment cleared the Trump campaign of potential wrongdoing. Tom Fitton, a regular Fox guest and president of the right-wing group Judicial Watch, echoed this talking point, saying the indictment “shows the Russia collusion scandal is over as far as Trump is concerned.”
The indictment does not show that.
Although Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein noted that there are no allegations of collusion in the indictment, he did not say that allegations of collusion had been ruled out, nor did he say that the investigation into collusion had ended.
In fact, as Bloomberg reported after the indictment was announced, “Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his prosecutors haven’t concluded their investigation into whether President Donald Trump or any of his associates helped Russia interfere in the 2016 election, according to a person with knowledge of the probe.”
But that didn’t stop RNC spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany from going on Fox News Friday evening and declaring, “Today marks the day that the Democrats’ Russia collusion conspiracy theory unraveled.”
The Russia investigation is actually led by members of the intelligence community who were almost all nominated to their respective posts during Republican administrations — but facts would ruin the talking point, so McEnany apparently decided to leave them out.
Also joining the “no collusion” camp was frequent Fox guest and conspiracy theorist Jim Hanson, who chimed in Saturday morning to falsely reassure viewers that “[t]here is no Trump-Russia and there never has been.”
But,” he added, “there is a Hillary-Obama-Dem-Resistance-GPS-DNC-Russia that nobody wants to pay attention to.”
There’s no evidence to back up Hanson’s statement — but then again, he’s the same person who suggested that a homemade clock brought to a school by a 14-year-old American Muslim student “was half a bomb.”
Those who didn’t jump on the “no collusion” bandwagon settled into the shiny object camp. And since it’s Fox, those shiny objects were none other than Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.
Fox contributor Tammy Bruce blamed the Obama administration for Russian interference, saying “many of the individuals who were indicted actually came in into this country when John Kerry was Secretary of State under Barack Obama.”
What she failed to mention was that once it became known that those individuals had committed crimes in the U.S. on behalf of the Kremlin, President Obama implemented sanctions as punishment — something that Trump has refused to do.
Fox host Laura Ingraham went even further than Bruce, calling for Mueller to investigate Clinton, John Kerry, Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, and President Obama — all of whom she suggested may be the ones “who really colluded with the Russians.”
Meanwhile, White House spokesperson Hogan Goodley used his appearance on Fox News to let Russia off the hook, saying “the Democrats and the mainstream media” are to blame for “creat[ing] chaos.”
And then there was Carter Page, who blamed the FBI for the school shooting in Florida this week, saying they were too busy with the Russia investigation — which Page referred to as a “witch-hunt” — to notice the “real threats out there.”
In a final twist, Fox host Shep Smith was the rare exception to the spin machine, telling viewers that the indictments show the Russia investigation is “the opposite of a hoax.” Within minutes, Trump fans were on Twitter calling for Smith’s firing and pushing the hashtag #FireShep.
Apparently, telling the truth is a fireable offense for the Fox News crowd.