Fox News knows Rudy Giuliani isn’t a credible source for accurate information. That’s why the network is hosting him tonight on its premiere program after FBI agents executed a search warrant on his Manhattan apartment on Wednesday.
“We should tell you that former Mayor Rudy Giuliani will be joining us on this show for his first television interview,” Fox host Tucker Carlson announced at the conclusion of a lengthy segment about the search, during which federal investigators reportedly seized cell phones and computers as part of a probe of Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine. Carlson framed this action as “the hallmark of tyranny” in which President Joe Biden’s administration is using “the force of law to punish their political opponents.”
The full contours of the Giuliani investigation, the existence of which was first reported in October 2019, are not yet known. But Giuliani worked alongside and built business ties with a host of dubious characters and foreign oligarchs as he concocted a Ukrainian disinformation campaign to boost his legal client, then-President Donald Trump; prosecutors charged two participants in that scheme, the Soviet-born con men Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, with campaign finance violations in 2019. The probe, reportedly delayed for a time by Trump political appointees, has apparently advanced to the point where investigators were able to convince a federal magistrate judge to approve a search warrant for Giuliani’s apartment and prosecutors have impaneled a grand jury.
(If you were expecting the noted populist Carlson to be concerned with the possibility that high-ranking officials protected a wealthy member of the elite from prosecution over international business crimes, I don’t know what to tell you.)
As Giuliani’s Ukraine efforts exploded into the headlines that year, eventually leading to Trump’s first impeachment, Fox’s own internal research team warned that he was not credible. A 162-page research document assembled by a member of Fox’s “Brain Room” described Giuliani as having “high susceptibility to disinformation” disseminated by Ukrainians, The Daily Beast reported. The document also cited “the extensive role played by Rudy Giuliani and his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, in spreading disinformation.”
That notoriety didn’t keep Giuliani off Fox’s airwaves at the height of the Ukraine scandal. But he did disappear from the network earlier this year, after voting technology companies threatened Fox with legal action in light of the election conspiracy theories that Giuliani and others were spinning following Trump’s defeat. He has not appeared on the network since December.
But tonight Giuliani will be back on Fox, on its most-watched program. If his son’s press conference is any sign, he’s going to align with Carlson’s claims that he is being persecuted for political reasons. Viewers can expect to hear Giuliani monologue about the purported injustice, with Carlson occasionally interjecting, “That’s right.”
It won’t be journalism. But then, that’s not what Fox is for.
Fox’s purported divide between “news” and “opinion” was always shaky at best. But it became untenable as the network morphed into a Trump propaganda channel, and since the election, any theoretical wall between the two has been gutted. Fox executives purged the “Brain Room” and put Carlson in the driver’s seat for a reason, and it wasn’t because they wanted to improve the accuracy of their broadcasts.
Instead of something resembling news, Fox is giving you Carlson in prime time. Last night, as part of his wide-ranging Giuliani conspiracy theory, he spent time trying to rehabilitate Konstantin Kilimnik, a business associate of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort described by federal officials as a Russian spy who received campaign information from Manafort and passed it to Russian intelligence services, based on spin from John Solomon.
If that latter name sounds familiar, Solomon served as the conduit for Giuliani’s Ukraine disinformation campaign and was briefly rewarded with a Fox contributor slot, though the network dropped him in November. The “Brain Room” report that pans Giuliani describes Solomon as playing “an indispensable role in the collection and domestic publication of elements of this disinformation campaign” and criticizes his reporting for “non-disclosure of conflicts, use of unreliable sources, publishing false and misleading stories, misrepresentation of sources, and opaque coordination with involved parties.”
That sounds perfect for Fox’s flagship program.