After some initial hesitation on how to defend Donald Trump from allegations of trying to collude with the Ukraine government to influence the 2020 campaign, when Trump himself had admitted to doing exactly that, Fox News and most of the right-wing echo chamber have rallied around White House talking points. Robotically defending Trump and pitching the unfolding impeachment proceedings as another so-called witch hunt, Fox News is leading the Trump media charge. (It's a “coup“!)
But will the caterwauling be enough this time?
Unlike the previous Russia investigation, which proceeded at a glacial pace and was conducted mostly in private by special counsel Robert Mueller and his team, the Ukraine story continues to unfold in public view and at a rapid clip. Stunning developments are being reported on a daily and sometimes hourly basis, and the White House has found it difficult to keep up with the bad, breaking news. “No matter how many administration officials try to spin an impeachment inquiry as somehow constituting good news for Trump, it’s not persuasive,” The Atlantic reported. Meanwhile, Trump defenders in the press still face that original hurdle of Trump himself admitting, and even bragging, that he tried to enlist the help of a foreign power to investigate a domestic political rival, Joe Biden.
In other words, Trump is facing the greatest challenge of his presidency, as is Fox News. The network is trying to shift from its familiar “No collusion!” defense of Trump in the Russia scandal to “Collusion, sure, but it wasn't that bad” for the Ukraine story. There's no question that impeachment, like the Mueller investigation, will operate on a parallel track alongside a media messaging war, as people on both sides of the political aisle put their spin on the Ukraine story. And there's no question that the conservative movement has built a massive, well-funded echo chamber designed specifically to win key messaging wars, via repetition and misinformation. This one seems different, though.