When Trump wanted the Department of Justice to lie for him, he cited Fox News as an example of how to do it.
Trump wanted the Department of Justice to lie in defense of his decision to fire then-FBI Director James Comey, and he cited Fox News as the model for how they should behave.
Trump fired Comey after the director refused to publicly vouch for him in the middle of the Russia investigation.
Legitimate news outlets accurately noted the odd circumstances surrounding the firing, and according to the Mueller report, Trump "was unhappy with the press coverage" and told his team to go out and defend him on air.
Unlike the other outlets, Fox was covering the issue dishonestly in a manner that pleased Trump. As Media Matters for America extensively documented, Fox parroted the White House line nearly word-for-word from the minute the news of Comey’s removal became public.
So Trump got an idea.
According to the Mueller report, the White House told Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to take the fall for the decision to fire Comey by saying it was his idea, but Rosenstein refused to put out a "false story."
So Trump called Rosenstein directly "and said he was watching Fox News, that the coverage had been great, and that he wanted Rosenstein to do a press conference."
Rosenstein said it was a bad idea because if asked, he would tell the truth: that firing Comey was not his idea.
The episode encapsulates the role the right-wing propaganda network plays. It broadcasts lies about key events. It informs Trump’s world view. And it gives him a model for how he believes others in his orbit should lie in his defense.
Trump liked the false story Fox was spinning for him, and he wanted the rest of his administration to follow suit.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.