Fox News is Lying About Trump's Trial | Opinion

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David Pecker, long-time publisher of the National Enquirer and Donald Trump’s close friend, spent hours on the witness stand last week.

With the relaxed demeanor of a jovial grandfather, Pecker described how, in 2015, he, candidate Trump, and Michael Cohen met to discuss how they could influence the outcome of the 2016 election. During that meeting, they conspired to hide harmful news, and to embellish fake news to disparage Trump’s rivals.

All was done, Pecker testified, with the express and stated intention of promoting Trump’s candidacy for U.S. president.

Pecker’s testimony revealed a conspiracy to interfere in the 2016 election

Pecker’s testimony made clear that main stream media’s insistence on calling the case a “hush money” trial is sloppy. The case is about Trump’s conspiracy to violate federal election laws in 2016. Paying hush money to a porn star is legal; falsifying business records to hide illegal campaign contributions is not.

Trump, Pecker and Cohen paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to “kill” news that could hurt Trump’s campaign, without reporting those payments to the FEC as the campaign contributions they were. As part of the same conspiracy, Trump and Pecker also manufactured fake stories to damage Trump’s political rivals, like Trump’s claim that Ted Cruz’s father was involved with the assassination of JFK.

Federal rules on this question aren’t complicated: Under FEC rules, which are federal law, anything of value given, loaned or advanced to influence a federal election” is considered a campaign contribution. All such political contributions are subject to the Federal Election Campaign Act’s source prohibitions; they are also legally subject to the Act’s amount limitations

Every campaign contribution is tightly monitored, and subject to the Act’s record-keeping and reporting requirements. Individual campaign contributions are limited to several thousand dollars per person; nowhere under federal election law can an individual or a candidate advance hundreds of thousands of dollars to aid a campaign without reporting it.

Killing the Stormy Daniels story fit Trump’s pattern 

The crux of the current case is Trump’s $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels to kill her story about their tryst in 2006, just after his wife gave birth to their son Barron. Trump similarly conspired to kill a story from Karen McDougal, a Playboy model Trump referred to as “our girl.”  

Pecker’s arrangement with McDougal went beyond a simple payment to “catch-and-kill” her story about Trump; it also guaranteed McDougal the opportunity to publish her fitness columns with the National Enquirer’s parent company, and included a guarantee of two magazine covers.  

Pecker testified under oath that the agreement with McDougal was intentionally disguised as a “contract for services” in an effort to circumvent campaign finance laws. Pecker said he feared at the time that what they were doing violated federal law, and he was worried about it. He said he told Cohen as much, but Cohen was unphased because, “Jeff Sessions is the attorney general and Donald Trump has him in his pocket.”

Fox News models the National Enquirer 

Anyone hoping Pecker’s explosive evidence will inform Trump’s supporters will be sorely disappointed, because, thanks to Fox News, they will never know about it.

In a trial exposing how Trump used fake news to get elected in 2016, Fox News continues to peddle the same fake news, with the same goals.

Despite paying nearly $800,000,000 for admittedly lying to viewers about the 2020 election, Fox continues to falsely portray Trump’s trial, while embellishing stories like the “border invasion” to harm Trump’s political rivals. During voir dire, Jesse Watters, a Fox News commentator, announced on Fox that “They are catching undercover Liberal Activists lying to the Judge in order to get on the Trump Jury,” painting Trump as a victim of the “deep state.” There was, and remains, no evidence of liberal activists trying to get on the jury.

On the night of Pecker’s shocking testimony, which made headlines across nearly all main stream outlets, didn’t cover it at all. The only trial-related news Fox ran called the trial a “historic mistake,” based on an editorial that was written prior to Pecker’s testimony. Fox buried all pertinent facts about Pecker’s testimony, substituting facts with fake news and spin, just as Pecker, Cohen and Trump did in 2016.

For profit, Fox has convinced roughly 40% of Americans that a dangerous demagogue is qualified to have the nuclear codes once again. Just as Hitler’s supporters eventually learned that his power was based on manufactured propaganda, Trump’s supporters will, gradually and eventually, learn the same.

As long as their belief system remains unchallenged by their main source of information, Fox News, they can delay their own moment of reckoning.

Perhaps their reckoning will begin when Fox next appears in court to face the staggering damages caused by their destructive firebrand of fake news.

Sabrina Haake is a columnist and 25 year litigator specializing in 1st and 14th Amendment defense. Follow her on Substack.


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