Let’s look at part of the record of Richard “Dick” Cheney of Wyoming, first the part that ushered in a new phase of American media where required balance of news coverage no longer existed. In this new era of media, most prominently television, we experienced an influx of shows where obnoxious insults, false innuendo and chaos made lots of money for lots of sponsors. It also saw an end to balanced television news reporting with Fox News, and the rise of a reality TV show host to the highest office in the land.
Walter Cronkite was a news broadcaster whose characterization of “The Most Trusted Man in America” was due to balanced coverage of a story. With Walter, and many like him among mainstream television and radio journalists, we felt we were getting the best in all areas of news interests. At university I studied the Federal Communication Commission Acts, which insured broadcasts were fair and balanced; in 1987 this fairness doctrine outlived itself and President Ronald Reagan vetoed a bill that would have included the doctrine. The effort by a bi-partisan group to override that veto was thwarted by the Chair of the House Republicans, one Richard “Dick” Cheney, representative from Wyoming.
Fox News was the brainchild of Roger Ailes who, when media consultant to President Richard Nixon, was displeased that anti-Vietnam War protestors dominated the airwaves, pitched the idea of singular Conservative news to Chief of Staff Donald Rumsfeld’s assistant Dick Cheney. The idea died; at least for a few years until resurrected by none other than Mr. Cheney. After the fairness doctrine was eliminated, Mr. Ailes was free to offer up Conservative views, mixed with excellent coverage in all other news areas, and Fox News quickly became the most watched in America and soon the nation saw a rise in conservatism akin to the great Reagan-era movement.
Media master Donald J. Trump; a boisterous businessman from New York City who over four decades had groomed mass media to do his bidding was a Fox News darling. No other businessman in American history, and few celebrities in politics or entertainment, have used the media with the success of Mr. Trump; he has learned the art of praise and taunt toward media knowing it must respond and thus keep him in the public eye.
Beginning in the 2010s, Mr. Trump began an unofficial media campaign for an ultimate run at the presidency and Fox News was one of his primary tools for getting the job done. And in 2016 it worked. But, four years later Fox News made the correct call that President Trump had lost the bid at reelection and he turned on them; the move was reciprocated by Fox News and negative stories about the former president appear to this day. Unfortunately, Fox News’ coverage of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection found objection within the ranks and some of America’s best managing editors and reporters in the field of news broadcast walked out the door.
As the frontrunner of conservative ideology, Fox News gave voice to those in society who believe in Replacement Theory and are dedicated to preventing it. The theory in a nutshell claims that White Protestant Christians, who ruled American business and politics since the nation’s inception, are being displaced by masses of immigrants who do not adhere to the same principals. Research reveals that since the 1950s Christianity has waned in America with less citizens claiming the faith every decade, and that of myriad Christian sects in the country, White Protestant Christians, now referred to as White Christian Nationalists, represent only 14% of the total and yet the movement had gained credence with then President Trump.
As part of his present bid to regain the White House, Mr. Trump espouses Christianity in severe Far Right rhetoric. In a recent speech he advocated the expulsion of and ban on immigrants of the Muslim religion because “they don’t like our religion.” What he means is White European Protestantism, the sect which eradicated Native cultures and stole their land, enslaved Blacks as means of free labor, and ran rampant with all natural resources without regard of damage to both the environment and the health and well-being of labor, all the while resisting immigrants of color, Jews and Roman Catholics (“Papists”), all were considered a threat to their power.
This once majority of American Christians saw waning power in the 1960s and today are the primary advocates of seeing that America, via the Make America Great Again movement of Ronald Reagan (Mr. Trump appropriated MAGA from a Reagan speech and claimed it as his own; just one of many lies and falsehoods perpetrated by media manipulation). The present Speaker of the House is also a strong advocate of White Protestant Nationalism, the Replacement Theory, and the Unified Executive Theory.
So, what is the Unified Executive Theory? Again, back to Mr. Cheney when he was both Chief of Staff to President Ford and Vice President under President George W. Bush. For eight years Mr. Cheney was the puppet master of a weak president who allowed his vice president vast influence. His advocation of Unified Executive Theory comes from Article II of the Constitution as interpreted by Antone Scalise and John Yoo, it allows for vast power invested in the Chief Executive, which in short terms says that if the president does it, it is legal.
We will see more of this theory in action should Donald Trump once again gain power given his recent rhetoric of revenge and vengeance against those who he sees as political power threats. All of us should take Mr. Trump at his word when he states if elected, he will weaponize government departments to avenge his bruised ego without regard to constitutional norms.
This opinion column will continue. Next column I want to address how locally we will respond to the obvious polarization of ideals that now exists across the land. So, until next time.
Take care. Peace.