It’s a tradition in many militarized cultures, like turkey and cranberry sauce. First comes the military show of force. Then come the goose-stepping troops.
You may think this to be a reference to the goons of North Korea, or the vipers of Syria. It is. It’s also a reference to “Fox and Friends.”
First, Syria: Did you notice that Bashar al-Assad’s air force was flying missions almost immediately from the airfield supposedly crippled by President Trump and 59 Tomahawk missiles? Actually, they barely dented the runway from whence Syrian planes fly.
And North Korea: What a spectacle. At every opportunity, Kim Jong-Un demonstrates that “ineptitude” is the same in any language.
So, what’s this got to do with “Fox and Friends”? Well, whatever Trump does, especially if it involves bombs, Fox News will salute with heels high and legs unbent.
Late-night host Seth Meyers, whose “A Closer Look” segment is among the best and most informative commentary on the planet, said that with its sycophantic treatment of Trump, Fox News is “the closest thing we have to state TV.”
Trump has tweeted plugs for Fox News shows and, without an ounce of vetting, passed on bogus claims voiced by specious Fox News “experts.”
Then there’s Trump’s buddy Bill O’Reilly. Here’s a man who, like Trump, knows that lies and bluster are how to build his base.
Two years ago NBC News banished Brian Williams from its lead anchor position for twisting the truth about his reporting exploits. That’s what an actual news organization does when a matter of credibility becomes a distraction.
By contrast, O’Reilly missed not a second of face time when caught lying around the same time, saying he had reported in combat, which he had not, unless one considers combat to be trooping around with DEA agents in South America.
And now we know that Fox News dished out $13 million to women who claimed sexual harassment by O’Reilly. Having seen how Fox News founder Roger Ailes did the same in a spirit of entitled creep-itude, maybe O’Reilly believes that abusing women is the Fox News route to upward mobility.
Ah, but who should come to O’Reilly’s defense but Donald Trump. Brothers in arms, with smallish, roaming hands.
Well, of course, he’d come to O’Reilly’s aid. The man holding the early distinction as the most unpopular president ever has to be comforted by a 24-hour TV channel that affirms every offensive notion and every untruth he might utter.
The other day Trump invited his pals at “Fox and Friends” on a fawning White House tour, then praised them on the air.
When Trump took office, there was talk that the administration might expel the media from the traditional White House press room. This hasn’t happened — yet.
However, with the president assailing the rest of media as the “enemy of the people” while plugging Fox News at every turn, it might be efficient for Trump to kick ‘em all out and invite Fox News to relocate its studios to the space and place from where an independent press historically has covered presidents.
Take another cue from Vladimir Putin, Mr. President. Russia has state-owned agencies like TASS and Ministry of Defense-run Zvezda television. They make sure that the people know what Putin most wants them to know.
The day after Trump did the only thing imaginable to improve his public standing — drop the biggest non-nuclear bomb ever — “Fox and Friends” led off with Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” while the detonation played in black and white.
Zvezda couldn’t have done it better.
Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.