Jonathan Kraut | Fox and the Demonization of Ray Epps

Jonathan Kraut

We can credit Fox “News” for cultivating, perpetuating and encouraging right-wing philosophies, convincing millions of viewers to believe in lies, adopt false conspiracy theories, and accept fabrications.   

The Fox playbook is simple — to create fear, blame a demon, ask for outrage, and to stay tuned to the next threat we all face and must overcome together.   

If not for the power of Fox propaganda, Donald Trump may not have been elected president, nor would Trump still be a viable candidate. If not for Fox, the Republican Party may still be a vital part of our democratic process.  

But it is time for a reckoning.  

The former Fox producer of the Tucker Carlson show, Abby Grossberg, just negotiated a $12 million settlement. It appears Fox settled the case with her rather than having to be forced to address Fox’s penchant for lies, toxicity and misogyny in the workplace, and gross misconduct in open court.    

Fox News also settled for perpetuating false claims that voting machines made by Dominion were faulty and hacked. Rather than more scandalous and damaging information be revealed about Fox in a civil trial, Rupert Murdoch paid out $787.5 million. Even cheap Rupert must know his brand would be trash if the truth about Fox’s willful misconduct came to light.  

Smartmatic is suing Fox for $2.7 billion for defamation, claiming Fox knowingly lied about voter machine fraud and for other false claims against Smartmatic. My guess is that Fox will settle at the last minute, happy to buy themselves out of further embarrassment.      

But we are just getting started.  

A new lawsuit just filed is going to possibly put an exclamation point on the seemingly endless Fox financial expenditures to buy their way out of legal jeopardy.   

Tucker Carlson broadcast speculation numerous times that a Trump supporter named Ray Epps could be an undercover FBI agent. Carlson implied that Mr. Epps was assigned by the FBI to stoke the flames of unrest at the Jan. 6 insurrection to make otherwise peaceful protesters turn violent.  

This false theory about Epps arose because he encouraged fellow protesters on Jan. 6 to go into the Capitol. The people around him started to chant, “Fed, Fed, Fed…”   

This spontaneous pushback is the sole reason that Epps was suspected by some to be an FBI agent. Yet Carlson went a step further and then implied that Epps was instigating the violence that occurred on Jan. 6 and was personally to blame for the attack on our Capitol instead of trying to quell it.  

Tucker and Fox, without any evidence or investigation, have put Mr. Epps’ life in jeopardy.   

The New York Times reported, “After the unfounded accusations about Mr. Epps were aired on Mr. Carlson’s show, they quickly spread to online communities of Trump supporters and to the political world as Republicans in Congress tried to link Mr. Epps to a fictitious conspiracy theory that he was involved in planning the Jan. 6 attack. They included Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, both of whom made Mr. Epps — a two-time Trump voter — a focus of concern at public hearings.”  

Epps, a Trump supporter, went to D.C. on Jan. 6 because he believed the lie that the election was “stolen.”  

In the Fox world, there always must be a demon to blame — immigrants, Muslims, transgender folk, the FBI, the Liberal Left, the Deep State, George Soros, the Squad, AOC, Nancy Pelosi, Hunter Biden, Hillary’s emails, etc.    

When Fox realized its Smartmatic and Dominion claims were losing traction, Carlson pivoted to some innocent rancher in Arizona as the new demon of the day — poor Ray Epps.  

Tucker’s coverage of Epps led to Epps receiving numerous death threats. Online retailers began selling T-shirts stating “Arrest Ray Epps.” Epps was forced to sell his 5-acre ranch and wedding business in Arizona. Now he and his wife are in hiding in an RV parked somewhere in the mountains of Utah.   

Epps, like so many others, is just a casualty of the Fox fear machine.  

Are you still watching Fox?   

Jonathan Kraut directs a private investigations agency, is the CEO of a private security firm, is the CFO of an accredited acting conservatory, is a published author, and Democratic Party activist. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or of other organizations.

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