How the Lies of Trump and Fox News have caused lasting pain
That is the number of defendants who have now been charged in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S Capitol.
It has been estimated that as many as ten-thousand American citizens came to Washington D.C. on January 6th (2021): ten-thousand who responded to Donald Trump’s call to stop the election of Joe Biden.
On that day, thousands of American citizens, believing they were obeying the orders of the President of the United States, responded to the nation’s capital to stop a stolen election. They believed the election was stolen because that is what their president told them. They believed the election was stolen because that is what they were told by the president’s lawyers on TV. And they believed the election was stolen because the largest cable news network in the world, Fox News, had told them as much through their on-air personalities.
Donald Trump told his followers that the election of 2020 had been stolen, and that he needed the help of his people to stop the steal. His attorneys lost repeatedly in court, where they failed to produce any evidence of election wrongdoing, but they continued to push Trump’s narrative on TV. The lawyers were only too happy to go on Fox News and perpetuate the fabrications told by Donald Trump.
Trump lied. His lawyers retold those lies. Fox News propagated those lies. And Trump’s people listened.
And today, one-thousand of them stand charged with participating in an insurrection against the United States government, each facing a lifetime of harm caused by Trump’s lies.
What happened on January 6 was clearly a planned event, orchestrated by Donald Trump in a desperate attempt to stay in office despite losing the election. Trump refused to recognize the fact that the American people had decided - and chosen - a different person to lead the government. His lawyers knew the truth and Fox News knew the truth.
Fox News refused to stop Trump’s lawyers from coming on the air and spewing incessant lies about the election being stolen. Fox, from owner and founder Rupert Murdoch on down, did not believe Trump’s nonsense, or the bullshit that was being said on the air by the likes of Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, but they permitted it. And now we know why Fox News repeated Trump’s lies: money.
Fox News was losing their audience: their ratings had fallen after they announced Trump had lost Arizona. Viewers were looking for someone to tell them that Trump had won. Viewers were looking for someone to tell them what they wanted to hear, and they were ready to do whatever it took - including changing the channel - to hear it. When Fox recognized their network was losing viewers and losing stock value, they panicked. What changed Murdoch’s mind about permitting Trump’s lying lawyers on the air was simply a business decision.
It is not red or blue. It is green.
It was money that led Rupert Murdoch and Fox News to permit Trump to continue to spread his election lies on-the-air to the same audience Trump had been lying to for years. The Fox News audience loved Trump, and Fox News recognized they must do whatever it took to appease that audience. Convinced by the lies they heard on Fox News every day for the two months following the election, many of those followers saw it as their duty to respond to the call of the president. They were prepared to fight - and even die -for Trump if called upon.
And that is exactly what Trump did: he called them to Washington, then told them to fight.
Trump lied about the election being stolen. His lawyers went on Fox News and lied persistently about fraud, and about the voting machines, and the companies that made the voting software, Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic.
Dominion is currently suing Fox News in a defamation suit for $1.6 billion. Transcripts of a deposition Rupert Murdoch gave in that case in December have revealed that Fox News hosts knew that lies were being told by Trump’s lawyers on the air, yet Fox continued to permit the lies because of their fears over losing this audience.
Smartmatic is also suing Fox News in a separate defamation suit worth $2.7 billion. If these two cases become legal victories for the plaintiffs, the financial damage to Fox News will be in the billions. Punitive damages could cost the network tens of billions of dollars.
All because they permitted Trump’s lawyers to lie on the air.
Donald Trump spent the two months between November 2020 and January 2021 telling the world the election had been stolen while never providing any evidence. His lies convinced his followers, who heeded his call and came to Washington D.C. on January 6th.
Trump’s lawyers also lied. Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis and so many more lied for Trump. Jenna Ellis, one of Trump’s attorneys, was recently censured by the State of Colorado for false statements she made on Trump’s behalf regarding the election. Rudy Giuliani has already been suspended, and faces multiple legal challenges.
Fox News also lied: not only did their hosts lie on the air, but they permitted their guests to lie, knowing full well those guests had no evidence of fraud. Not only did Fox News hosts knowingly invite these liars to come on the air, but in recent court depositions now made public, it is clear that Fox News hosts despised Trump and his clown posse of lawyers. They were sick of his lies, his lawyers, and his bullshit. Fox News lies led directly to the defamation lawsuits brought on by Dominion and Smartmatic.
All of these lies led to January 6th, when those ten-thousand American citizens came to Washington D.C. to listen to more Trump lies. On that day, he told them they would have to “fight like hell, or you won’t have a country anymore.”
And so they fought. These people, these faithful followers of Donald Trump, trusted him, and they fought like hell for him.
Today, at least one-thousand defendants have been charged in connection with the violent insurrection on January 6, 2021. Many have pleaded guilty, and some are already serving lengthy prison sentences. None of those who lied about election fraud have been charged: no one from Trump’s inner circle, no one at Fox News have been charged with one thing.
But all of this raises an important question:
“Do the defendants and convicted conspirators of Donald Trump have a case against him and Fox News?”
Fox News is currently being sued in multiple defamation suits for on-air lies, A number of Trump’s lawyers have also been named in those defamation suits. But what about Trump?
It was Trump who created the lies about election fraud. It was Trump who repeated those lies over and over on radio, television and the Internet. It was Trump who sent his lawyers on Fox News to lie to those followers.
It was Trump who told his followers through Fox News and through his own attorneys those lies about the election being stolen. It was Trump who called those same followers to come to Washington, and they came because they believed his lies. And it was Trump who told them to “go down to the Capitol” and to “fight like hell” before they lost their country–more lies.
The followers of Donald Trump listened to his lies and paid a stiff price: one-thousand of them have now been charged with some federal crime. Many have been charged with felonies, meaning that they will never again be permitted to possess a firearm, a sacred right for those in Trump’s world.
Trump took that right from them: his lies led to their coming to Washington D.C. His lies that day led them to storm the Capitol building like a bunch of traitors.
What’s more, Trump took away their freedom. Those who sit in prison today do so because Trump lied to them, and Fox News promoted those lies. Together, Trump and Fox News sold his followers a phony bill of sale. They worked hand-in-hand for power and money: their insatiable greed and lust to maintain power has done unspeakable damage to those who follow Donald Trump.
Those followers of Trump acted that day without regard for human life or the law. The time they serve in prison should serve as an object lesson to avoid despicable liars in the future. But it cannot be understated the negative effect Trump’s lies have caused them.
Trump lied about the election and Fox News chose to repeat them: Fox is now being sued, and is now looking at a massive defamation suit which may destroy their business.
But for the followers of Trump that showed up that day in January–those who fought for Trump–their lives will be impacted forever. Their legal troubles will haunt them in finding a home or a job. Their criminal record will surely not make it easy for any of them. They have submitted their lives to Trump, and he took their lives right out from under them.
If Fox News can be sued for the damage its lies did to Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, why then can’t Donald Trump be sued for the damage his lies did to those who went to prison fighting for him?
There are civil lawsuits against Donald Trump for what he said on January 6th, but to my knowledge none of the defendants who were arrested for their acts on that day have brought a suit against Trump: none of them have attempted to show in court the extensive damage Donald Trump has caused to their lives.
Trump lied and Americans died. Fox repeated those lies. One party is currently facing a legal battle that endangers its very existence: the other is playing golf five days a week in Florida.
While Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and a small group of others are trying to sue Trump for his ruthless lies, it is unclear whether they will prevail. Swalwell “alleges that he was injured by Trump’s personal actions on and leading up to that day. Eleven other members of Congress, as well as two U.S. Capitol Police officers have made similar allegations in two related cases also pending in this Court.”
Proving malice in civil cases like this is most challenging: Dominion has an abundance of evidence of Fox News’ malice. Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe told The Guardian that the Dominion Voting Systems’ legal brief against Fox News for defamation is “likely to succeed and likely to be a landmark.”
None of those followers of Donald Trump who stormed the Capitol for him were ever offered a pardon: they believed his lies, they showed up and fought for him, but now their lives are forever tainted by the actions they took based on Trump’s lies.
Many of these people have had their lives turned into an absolute mess, and I don’t feel particularly sorry for them. But I do see where they may have a civil claim against Donald Trump, his lawyers, and Fox News.
For me, nothing could be more satisfying than to see Donald Trump’s own followers–the same one who listened to his lies–sue him for every penny that he has. It would be justice to see Trump’s own people eat him alive, suing him for the permanent damage his lies did to their lives.
Considering that just two companies may be able to secure billions from Fox News, I wonder how many of those who were lied to, and whose lives are now ruined, might bring suit against Trump.
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