cover image Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth

Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth

Brian Stelter. One Signal, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-1-982142-44-5

CNN media correspondent Stelter (Top of the Morning) documents the "feedback loop" between Fox News and the Trump administration in this damning if somewhat uneven account. Drawing on interviews with more than 300 mostly anonymous sources, Stelter portrays the network as rife with internal divisions between its news and opinion departments (though the latter nearly always wins) and beholden to the rabid fan base it has cultivated over a series of "turns to the right" since 9/11. He credits former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes with "chang[ing] the course of American politics" by giving Trump a weekly call-in segment on the morning show Fox and Friends, and details how a leadership vacuum created by the dismissals of Ailes and prime-time host Bill O'Reilly over sexual harassment claims set the stage for college dropout Sean Hannity to become the network's top host and Trump's "shadow chief of staff." There's plenty of gossip, including claims that former Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle's 51st birthday party at Mar-a-Lago in March 2020 was a "petri dish" for Covid-19, and that Hannity privately believes the president is "batshit crazy." But close observers of the news will be familiar with Stelter's larger points, and he doesn't offer much insight into why Fox News viewers are so devoted to the network. Still, this is a copious and alarming catalogue of the damage the "Trump-Fox merger" has done to American journalism and politics. (Aug.)