Shared from Mashable
The war is on for the soul of Fox News in the Donald Trump era.
In one corner, Sean Hannity, heir apparent to Bill O’Reilly and the undisputed champion of President Donald Trump.
In the other, Shep Smith, among a select few voices willing to occasionally puncture the Fox News bubble.
The two have coexisted rather peacefully for years, but with Fox News headed in a distinctly pro-Trump-no-matter-what-happens direction, Smith and Hannity have been on a collision course.
In the last couple weeks, they’ve begun to square off in a fight that shows just how far into Trump’s alternate reality much of Fox News has fallen. It was enough to cause Smith to publicly question whether Fox News might just destroy itself along the way.
The story that broke through centered on the revelation that Donald Trump Jr. met with
one two three four five six seven eight people as part of an effort to gain incriminating evidence on Hillary Clinton from Russian agents. Trump Jr. and others in Trumpworld lied repeatedly about the meeting and who had attended.
Smith, prone to occasional outbursts of sanity in response to his surroundings, launched into a tirade last Friday following the revelation of more people having been in the meeting.
“Why is it lie after lie after lie? If you’re clean, come out clean,” he said to Fox News moderator Chris Wallace.
Smith didn’t stop there. He also pointed out that plenty of Trump supporters had wholly rejected the stories, and that someday it would come back to haunt them.
“There are still people out there who believe we’re making it up. And one day they’re going to realize we’re not, and look around go ‘Where are we and why are we getting told all these lies?'” Smith said.
It’s not the first time Smith has called out Trump, but it was among the most forceful screeds against Trump and his supporters.
Hannity clearly got the message. During his radio show on Monday, Hannity called Smith “a friend” with whom he shares mutual respect. Smith, however, is “so anti-Trump,” Hannity said.
Innocuous enough. But Smith clearly didn’t take kindly to it. When reached for comment by Mediaite, Smith issued a pointed statement: “Sometimes facts are displeasing. Journalists report them without fear or favor.”
“Sometimes facts are displeasing. Journalists report them without fear or favor.”
Smith might be the loudest voice at Fox News questioning the Trump administration, but he’s not the only one. Wallace, who Smith was speaking with in the previous video clip, has also begun to give more credence to the mounting Russia scandal, as has Charles Krauthammer, a notable and senior voice of the channel.
Anywhere else, this would be par for the course. At Fox News, Smith and the others sound like they inhabit a different world from their more Trumptastic colleagues, particularly as voices like Hannity and Tucker Carlson have been elevated in the absence of other personalities who have resigned amid sexual harassment allegations (O’Reilly) and others who have left for more mainstream pastures (Megyn Kelly).
Fox News wasn’t always like this. Early in the 2016 election, the channel pushed back on Trump, with Kelly in particular sparring with him publicly. The two sides eventually struck a truce, but the relationship alway seemed tense until Trump became the Republican nominee.
In the wake of the exits of Kelly and O’Reilly, Fox News just about went full Pravda for Trump. Aside from its major evening pundits, the channel’s morning show and evening show features a bevy of pro-Trump (or, for some, anti-Democrat) stances.
Opposing sides can exist within the same media company, at least when things are anywhere close to normal. Problems occur when extraordinary circumstances—like the president’s son lying about meeting with an unfriendly country in hopes of affecting the U.S. election—cause differences to boil over into public feuds. It’s one thing to disagree over the impact of Obamacare. It’s something else entirely when a majority of a media outlet refuses to engage in reality—particularly when that reality has the possibility of becoming the biggest scandal in the history of the country.
Smith and the rest of us are left to wonder: Where is the line for Fox News? At what point can Trump’s actions not be excused away or ignored? And at what point are Hannity and his ilk abandoning any semblance of conservative principles to back a president whose connections with Russia appear beyond even Tom Clancy’s wildest dreams?
This is what Smith was getting at when he spoke of people who one day might wake up and wonder where they are. Fox News has long been criticized for creating a dreamland for its viewers. Now, that dreamland is in danger of creating very real world in which the president is above reproach to a large chunk of America.
Smith knows Fox News is a big reason for that. Trump has been losing some support among Republicans, but almost 3/4 of Trump’s supporters think the Russia scandal is “fake news.” Combined with Trump’s only consistent message — that the media is full of evil liars who are out to get you — Fox News personalities take on an outsized role. They’re not just a few voices among the broader media narrative. For their viewers, they’re the only ones left to trust.
It’s an incredible amount of power, and Smith knows how dangerous it can be in the wrong hands—and what it could do to Fox News. The worse things get for Trump, the farther into propaganda territory the channel has to go. Hannity seems to believe viewers will go as far as he leads them. Smith has made it clear he believes a point exists at which they’ll revolt.
For now, though, the answer to “Where are we and why are we getting told all these lies?” is Fox News, and will be for a while.
Original Article and Images from Mashable