Z on TV Critic David Zurawik writes about the business and culture of TV

Watching the Trump propaganda machine gearing up on Kavanaugh, midterms

As our politics move from crazy to crazy and fevered with the battle over the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh totally on and midterms just around the corner, it is fascinating to watch the Trump propaganda machine with its so-called news allies at work.

That was the discussion Olivia Nuzzi, of New York magazine, and I were invited to join in on with host Brian Stelter on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” Sunday.

We didn’t get to all of it, because this is live TV and the clock sometimes forces changes on the fly. You can see the part we did get to discuss on-air in the video here.

But two of the president’s favorite propaganda puppets heeded the Trump trumpet call at the end of last week and rushed headlong into battle, and they were as disgustingly servile and toady to their commander in chief as you might have guessed.

The king of all propaganda puppets, Sean Hannity, came down from the Valhalla of right-wing disinformation, Fox News, to Trump’s rally in Las Vegas, and since we have the video here, I will not go blow by blow.

But even if the thought that our political life has been debased to the level of Trump and Hannity acting like they are co-hosting a reality TV show makes you want to gag, please still watch. If you have only been reading about the “echo chamber” or “feedback loop” between Trump and Fox News and have not seen it because you can’t bear to watch Fox, force yourself to watch this. You have to actually see how wrong media can go when it has no moral compass or sense of a public service mission.

Just watch the first 30 seconds in which Hannity urges Trump to “wave to the fake media” as the president joins him onstage. The “fake media” would be the journalists covering the rally. The taunt by Hannity of the honest press is something you would expect from a minister of information in a fascist country in 1930s Europe. Maybe Trump can get Hannity a uniform with epaulets. Why not?

If you stay to the end end of the video, you’ll get to hear the president telling another Fox propaganda puppet, Laura Ingraham, how much he loves her.

Some have called it a pep rally hosted by Hannity. It’s way beyond that. It’s a co-production between Fox News and the White House. That is not surprising since the person in change of White House communications is Bill Shine, the former Fox News co-president and top aide to former CEO Roger Ailes.

The bulk of the video is Hannity and Trump singing the praises of Kavanaugh, the economy and the president’s foreign policy moves. And then comes the plea to get out and vote for Republicans in the midterms or your 401K is allegedly going to lose half its value.

And then came the Sinclair Broadcast Group offering its viewers around the country a one-on-one interview with the president conducted by Boris Epshteyn, chief political analyst for the Hunt-Valley-based company.

Even though Epshteyn’s “Bottom Line with Boris” segments are must-carry on all Sinclair stations that produce news, he is a propaganda puppet of a lower rank than Hannity or Ingraham.

Note Epshteyn’s servile posture before our great leader.

Note the free space he gives Trump to comment on the battle over the charges leveled against Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford, a former classmate who says the nominee sexually assaulted her in high school.

Trump gets to say without pushback what a “shame” it is that this man with an “unblemished record” is going though this.

“Brett Kavanaugh is one of the finest guys you’ll ever meet,” the president tells Sinclair viewers. “I think it’s been extremely hard on him and his family.”

Let’s leave it right there before I start preaching or my head explodes. Check out the video for yourself, and let me know what you think.

david.zurawik@baltsun.com

twitter.com/davidzurawik

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