Lent, of course, is that time when we meditate on and try to imitate Jesus Christ in the desert. Here’s Matthew’s account:
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,
‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ” Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,
‘He will give his angels charge of you,’
‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ”
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Begone, Satan! for it is written,
‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”
Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him. (Mt 4:1–11)
Now compare this confrontation against the Tempter and Father of Lies with the Most Trusted News Source of millions upon millions of Conservative American Christian, FOX News:
In a 192-page court filing published on Thursday containing private messages from many of Fox’s biggest stars, Dominion argues: “From the top down, Fox knew ‘the Dominion stuff’ was ‘total bs’.”
“Yet despite knowing the truth – or at minimum, recklessly disregarding that truth – Fox spread and endorsed these ‘outlandish voter fraud claims’ about Dominion even as it internally recognised the lies as ‘crazy’, ‘absurd’ and ‘shockingly reckless’,” the filing said.
Attorneys for Fox, however, have argued that Dominion has advanced only “novel defamation theories” and is seeking a “staggering” figure in damages aimed at winning headlines, silencing protected speech and enriching its owner, Staple Street Capital Partners, and its investors.
“Dominion brought this lawsuit to punish the Fox News Network for reporting on one of the biggest stories of the day – allegations by the sitting president of the United States and his surrogates that the 2020 election was affected by fraud,” the company stated in a counterclaim.
“The very fact of those allegations was newsworthy.”
Fox attorneys argue that when voting-technology companies denied the allegations being made by Mr Trump and his surrogates, Fox News aired those denials, while some of its hosts offered protected opinion commentary about the allegations.
A Fox spokesperson said in a statement in response to Thursday’s filing: “There will be a lot of noise and confusion generated by Dominion and their opportunistic private equity owners, but the core of this case remains about freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which are fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution and protected by New York Times v Sullivan.”
A five-week trial is scheduled to begin on 17 April.
Here is a brief overview of some of the most astonishing claims in the new filing, which collects private text messages from prominent anchors like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham and owner Rupert Murdoch discussing coverage of the 2020 election’s aftermath.
Anchors livid over (correct) decision to call Arizona for Biden
Fox’s high-profile anchors privately bemoaned the network’s biggest election night call, according to the filing, with Mr Hannity complaining in a text on 12 November 2020: “In one week and one debate they destroyed a brand that took 25 years to build and the damage is incalculable.”
He later allegedly told Fox and Friends host Steve Doocey: “You don’t p*** off the base.”
Mr Carlson told him, “I’ve heard from angry viewers every hour of the day all weekend, including at dinner tonight”, to which Mr Hannity responded: “Same same same. Never before has this ever happened.”
Carlson asked for Fox’s White House correspondent to be fired
In a message purportedly sent to a group chat including Ms Ingraham and Mr Hannity on 12 November, Mr Carlson pointed out a tweet from the network’s White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich in which she fact-checked a post by Mr Trump alleging voter fraud, pointing out that “top election infrastructure officials” had declared: “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes or was in any way compromised.”
Mr Carlson reacted by saying: “Please get her fired. Seriously… What the f***? I’m actually shocked… It needs to stop tonight immediately, like tonight. It’s immeasurably hurting the company. The stock price is down. Not a joke.”
Murdoch considered having stars appear together to declare Biden the winner
The veteran media tycoon reportedly considered asking Mr Hannity, Mr Carlson and Ms Ingraham to give a joint prime-time address together in which they publicly declared that Mr Biden had won the White House legitimately and that fraud had played no part in the outcome.
Doing so “would go a long way to stop the Trump myth that the election stolen,” he told CEO Suzanne Scott on 5 January 2021, according to Dominion’s filing.
Carlson called Trump ‘demonic force’
In an anxious text to his producer Alex Pfeiffer about the dangers of displeasing Mr Trump over its coverage of the Capitol riot on 6 January, Mr Carlson describes him as “a demonic force, a destroyer”, adding: “But he’s not going to destroy us.”
“What he’s good at is destroying things. He’s the undisputed world champion of that. He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong.”
Murdoch tells Fox CEO to ‘help any way we can’ in Georgia
The mogul emailed Ms Scott on 16 November with a link to a Wall Street Journal article about Fox’s right-wing rival network Newsmax.
“These people should be watched, if sceptically,” he told her, before advising her to devote coverage to the Georgia Senate runoff and the promotion of GOP candidates Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, both of whom would ultimately lose to Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
Mr Murdoch continued: “Trump will concede eventually and we should concentrate on Georgia, helping any way we can. We don’t want to antagonise Trump further, but [Rudy] Giuliani taken with a large grain of salt. Everything at stake here.”
Senior figures embarrassed by Giuliani’s antics
It was not just Mr Murdoch who had doubts about former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to push the election fraud narrative.
The filing collects messages from other Fox stars concerned about his appearances, with Mr Hannity observing on 11 November: “Rudy is acting like an insane person.”
Ms Ingraham said on 12 December that he was “such an idiot” and Lou Dobbs’s producer, John Fawcett, said on 3 January that the veteran politician was “so full of s***”.
Trump lawyer forwarded ‘wackadoodle’ election conspiracy tip
Sidney Powell, AKA The Kraken, forwarded an email she had received from an anonymous tipster to Fox Business Network anchor Maria Bartiromo, which she herself admitted was “pretty wackadoodle”, alleging that Dominion’s machines were the “one common thread” tying together “voting irregularities in a number of states.”
The sender also apparently believed that the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia had been “purposefully killed at the annual Bohemian Grove camp… during a weeklong human hunting expedition” and wrote: “Who am I? And how do I know all of this?… I’ve had the strangest dreams since I was a little girl… I was internally decapitated, and yet, I live… The Wind tells me I’m a ghost, but I don’t believe it.”
Elsewhere, Mr Carlson accused Ms Powell of lying and called her a “f***ing b****” and Ms Ingraham said of her: “Sidney is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto Rudy.”
Jeanine Pirro considered ‘crazy’ by colleagues
Ms Pirro’s producers stated on 7 November that they believed she was “angling for a job somewhere else”, fearing her exchanges with guests over whether or not the election was stolen would not be productive.
“They took her off cuz she was being crazy,” texted producer Justin Wells. “Optics are bad. But she is crazy.”
Two things are worth noting here.
The first, of course, is that there’s actually a pretty low bar journalists have to clear in order to escape defamation charges. If the defamed can’t prove something was said with malicious intent, the defamed lose. So if you sell the jury on the notion that you genuinely believed the defamed was a scum-sucking dog and were therefore not (from your perspective) lying as you dragged their good name through the mud, you can win.
FOX now stands exposed as failing to even clear that bar. They lied and they knew they were lying and they discussed in detail with one another how much they were lying and they doubled down on lying and Dominion now stands an extremely good chance of having their guts for garters to the tune of over a billion dollars.
The second, and particularly Lenten, thing for MAGA Christians to note is this:
Anyone tempted to lay all the blame on FOX for being a pack of liars at war with our democracy needs to face the fact that FOX did what it did because their audience of millions of conservative Christians demanded that they tell them lies and muzzle the truth or they would go find somebody who would lie to them.
At the end of the day, the failure of FOX is rooted in a failure of conservative MAGA religion, which exactly fits the bill for a spiritual malady Jesus described 2000 years ago:
“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” – John 8:44
If we as Christians want to address this problem, we need to get our asses in gear and remind our own brother and sister Christians (and ourselves) that Jesus said:
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Every one who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock; and when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house, and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But he who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation; against which the stream broke, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” (Lk 6:46–49)
The fall and ruin of the House of MAGA antichrist religion, when it finally and inevitably comes, will be great because it is built on wiful, chosen, impenitent lies.
Repent and believe the gospel, O MAGA, for your claim to be the Only and Best Christians in the Universe will only sharpen the pain you inflict on yourselves as you double down on lies. As Jesus warned,
“For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this, and they said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.” (Jn 9:39–41)
All this is true, of course. When the great and inevitable fall comes, though, it’s going to take down the good with the bad, paint all Christians and religious people of other faiths too, maybe, with the brush of cruelty and tyranny and deliberate falsehood.
It’s not true that all Catholic priests, or even many, are a danger to children — but because the institution protected some who did, all Catholics bear that shame.
It’s not true that all Christians, even conservative ones, are MAGA devils — but because plenty of them claim a Christian mantle, we will all be shamed when they fall.
What a mess. Doubt the Fox folks are reading the Bible much – or properly.