On MSNBC, Angelo Carusone explains how Fox News set the stage for Joe Biden's impeachment

Angelo Carusone: “They've just perpetuated this myth that there is something corrupt there”

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Citation From the September 16, 2023, edition of MSNBC's American Voices With Alicia Menendez

ALICIA MENENDEZ (HOST): House speaker Kevin McCarthy opening an inquiry to impeach president Biden, and the special counsel now announcing an indictment for Hunter Biden. It is open season for the right-wing misinformation machine. With us, now Angelo Carusone, President and CEO of Media Matters. Angelo, so often you remind us that ideas don't go from the Republican party to Fox News. They go from Fox News to the Republican party. Media Matters dropped an article alleging that this so-called Biden indictment, impeachment, no different. Explain to us what happened.

ANGELO CARUSONE (PRESIDENT & CEO, MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA): Yes, it goes all the way back to Trump's first impeachment, actually. One of the pieces of disinformation, and misinformation that was circulating through the right-wing media back then was that when Joe Biden was Vice President, he used his position to get a Ukrainian general prosecutor fired, so that he could in some way protect Hunter Biden's business deals. Which they allege he is in on. And that was something that Trump was acting on. Trump, of course, a consumer of right-wing media, took that, and then actually leveraged that against the Ukrainian government, when he tried to get them to launch a probe into Joe Biden, as Joe Biden began to become his opponent. Which led to Donald Trump's impeachment. So, this is literally the same core piece of misinformation. Jim Jordan on Fox News reflected that back out explaining that their single best piece of evidence for the impeachment inquiry is this idea that Joe Biden used his position of power to somehow get the prosecutor fired to protect Hunter Biden. In a way, this isn't new, it's the same thing sort of regurgitating. That's because right after Joe Biden got inaugurated, Fox News, alone, did more than 3618 segments about Hunter Biden since Joe Biden's inauguration. They've just perpetuated this myth that there is something corrupt there, and that there's going to need to be a cause for action or impeachment. It goes all the way back to when Trump was the President, to be honest.

ALICIA MENENDEZ: Here's the thing, after Dominion, after the controversies that Fox has been through, I wonder what you make of their lingering influence, on not only Republican politicians, but on Republican policies, agendas?

ANGELO CARUSONE: They are in a weird position. They are sort of stuck between a rock and a hard place. They've lost about 30% of their audience, so they have lost a little bit of their leverage and power. And that's not just reflected in the day-to-day news cycle. They don't have the same uplift that they had historically. There are others now that can get things pushed into the right-wing zeitgeist, to sort of pressure Republican politicians into picking up their narratives. So they're not the lone player anymore, as they were, they had monopoly in the past. That's one factor. You have these fringes, even further than Fox, that are out there able to leapfrog Fox News and directly inject something into the Republican zeitgeist that then Fox has to chase after. That's the first thing. They're not the lone player. They don't get to be the sole decision-maker anymore, and they are trying to straddle all these realities. The business realities, they're trying to hold on to their audience, they're trying to keep their political power. So that is affecting their coverage. But at the end of the day, it's still basically the same Fox News. They were calling for Joe Biden's impeachment, literally, they used the word preemptive impeachment, before Joe Biden was even elected president. He was still running against Donald Trump. Fox News hosts back then were saying, Republicans should launch a preemptive impeachment effort against Joe Biden in case he wins. All we are really seeing is the fruition of something that has always been core to Fox. And since Dominion, yeah, they've had to navigate some political fall back, but I said it in the wake of it, and I still think it's playing out day today, Fox News is burning brighter and hotter. It is just, there's a lot of other players out there burning hotter too. I don't think we all realize just how hot they've gotten.

ALICIA MENENDEZ: We've got about a minute left, but I do want to go back to something you said, which is if what they are trying to do is create this sense among their viewers that the impeachments we're talking about are apples to apples, when they are not even apples to oranges, or apples to kittens, its apples compared to an apple that does not actually exist in the real world. How then, do you undercut that? truth?

ANGELO CARUSONE: Part of it is that this is a much deeper question for our society. Which is that in reality, what we are facing in front of us is actually more like trench warfare. We won't solve this conflict in a single cycle, or a single month, a single narrative or a single news cycle. We are going to have to weather the storm, this is going to be on the margins. And right now they're succeeding because they created the pressure enough for Republicans launch this, we have to talk about this now because it's a reality. But in the long term, we have to continue to neutralize Fox News's destructive power. That's by not letting them cheat the system the way they do. There has to be consequences. Others have to change the way they interact with Fox News. We can't treat it like it's a legitimate news operation, when in fact, it has fully exposed itself, since Dominion, as a political operation. That has to be the fundamental. Nothing can really sustainably change, unless we actually, all of us, actually change the way we deal with, talk about, and think about Fox, because they are not a news operation.