Fox News Officially Endorses Lying to Americans By Hiring Sarah Huckabee Sanders
Fox News Channel’s announcement that Sarah Huckabee Sanders will provide political analysis for the network marks a historic occasion: the network — as a matter of policy — is now openly endorsing the practice of lying to the American public.
Sanders had some big shoes to fill in the lying department when she took over as White House press secretary from Sean Spicer, who literally spent his first day on the job bellowing lies at reporters.
But she quickly distinguished herself as a worthy successor, even eclipsing Spicer in one key respect: Sarah Huckabee Sanders admitted, under oath, that she lied to the American public.
It wasn’t her biggest lie, or her most dangerous, but when questioned by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Sanders was forced to admit that she was lying when she told reporters that she had personally heard from “countless” FBI agents — specifically via “text and email” — who were thankful for Trump’s decision to fire James Comey.
Prior to that admission under oath, Sanders at least had the meager deniability of claiming that she was merely repeating lies that had been fed to her unawares, or other excuses and deflections. One person’s “lies” are another’s “spin” are another’s “alternative facts.” Tomato, tomahto. But Sanders is now, to a legal certainty, an admitted liar.
Other news outlets do employ former White House officials from other administrations, such as former Bush flacks like Nicolle Wallace and Dana Perino, or former Clinton official George Stephanopoulos. Whether or not journalism would be better off without them in those roles is a separate discussion, but not one of them has admitted, under oath, to lying to the American people while in the employ of the American people.
For critics of Fox News, this hiring might not seem like such a monumental outrage. Their opinion hosts are famous for their estrangement from the truth and/or reality, and the news side is also frequently guilty of bias and misreporting — even on their own network’s polling data.
But Fox News prides itself on a stable of journalists who, at their best, practice excellent journalism, as well as others who sporadically call out the Trump administration — even on the opinion side.
Ironically, one of the most thorough and devastating destructions of Sarah Sanders came at the hands of Fox News anchor Chris Wallace when he grilled her about a longstanding Trump administration lie that terrorists were flooding over the southern border of the United States. Wallace’s performance single-handedly succeeded in getting Trump to stop telling that lie, a miraculous feat.
An even more delicious irony is the fact that one of the reporters whose face Sanders lied right to was Fox News White House correspondent John Roberts, yet another Fox journalist with a reputation worth protecting.
So while Fox News critics like myself may have long ago written off the network’s claim to credibility as a news organization — notwithstanding Wallace, Roberts, Shepard Smith, and the occasional outbursts of truth from others — the hiring of Sanders represents Fox’s writing off of its own credibility.
It would be one thing if Fox were simply to hire Sanders as a talking head for panels on shows like Fox & Friends — where she will make her debut — or even to host her own opinion show. It would still be a lower-level outrage, but at least somewhat consistent with Fox’s own internal logic about the separation of opinion and hard news.
But according to Fox News, Sanders “will provide political commentary and analysis across all of FOX News Media, including FOX News Channel, FOX Business Network, FOX News Digital, FOX Nation and the radio/podcast division,” meaning she could end up providing news “analysis” across a table from Wallace or Smith, or Bret Baier, or any of the other news figures whose reputations the network prizes.
Such a circumstance would place a journalistic duty on these figures to disclose and examine Sanders’ status as legally binding admitted liar during every such appearance. An “Admitted Under Oath to Lying” chyron would accomplish the same thing, but either would greatly — albeit deservedly — undercut the value of Sanders’ analysis.
So what is a serious Fox News journalist to do? I guess we’ll find out.
Watch Sarah Sanders lie to the American people’s faces above, via The White House.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.