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Lifting the lid on Fox News propaganda
The right-wing outlet was eager to spread false claims of Biden’s absence this weekend
After Republican National Chair Ronna McDaniel declared that the outbreak of war in the Middle East was a “great opportunity” for her party, Fox News showed what she meant by cheap-shotting President Joe Biden.
Veteran Fox correspondent John Roberts tweeted Monday morning: “With war raging in Israel, the @WhiteHouse called a lid for @JoeBiden at 11:46am.”
This was true, but misleading. A “lid” tells journalists that the president is not planning any more public appearances that day. It’s done as a courtesy to reporters, a signal that they can leave without missing anything. It does not mean that the president has stopped working. In fact, on this day it meant the very opposite: Biden was busy dealing with allies on how to respond to the international crisis.
But Fox News figured most people didn’t know what a “lid” was and that a tweet like Roberts’ would feed into the right-wing disinformation network’s spin that Biden was an out-of-touch old guy.
A pop-up on Fox News’ website said: “WATCH LIVE: White House goes dark after 9 Americans confirmed dead in Israel.” (It didn’t “go dark” figuratively or literally. That was a lie.)
Fox’s story said: “The White House denied that the lid was an indication that Biden is disengaged with the events in Israel.”
And the MAGA army kept pounding the drum.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-AL, shared Roberts’ tweet and commented: “Alabamians don’t work those kind of hours.”
Donald Trump Jr. found it shocking that “our imbecile president was checking out before lunch.”
Fox host Mark Levin called it a “disgusting disgrace.”
Fox host Lawrence Jones III tweeted: “WHERE IS THE PRESIDENT???”
Other media outlets ran stories with similar themes, echoing Fox:
Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich brought up Biden’s appearance at an event for White House residence staff and their families on Sunday night after the president had dealt with the Israel-Hamas crisis earlier in the day. Republicans such as Josh Hawley had already hammered Biden for that appearance before the declaration of a “lid” created a new opportunity for faux outrage.
Pavlich tweeted: “After hosting a party last night at the White House while Americans remain held hostage by Hamas, Biden has called a lid at 11:51 am. He's MIA.”
Pavlich didn’t hold Republicans to the same strict standards of gravitas. For example, she didn’t condemn Ted Cruz for attending an Astros playoff game. Nor did she lambaste Donald Trump for whining on Truth Social about being excluded from the Forbes 400 list.
Pavlich’s tweet was shared by Rep. Ralph Norman, R-SC, who added, “A lid before noon while the Middle East is on fire. This is par for the course with Joe Biden.”
Ralph Norman isn’t a household name, but he should be. Even after the Jan. 6 coup attempt failed, Norman sent a text to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows urging the White House to use the military to keep Trump in office. Norman is such a dope that in the traitorous text he misspelled “martial law” as "Marshall Law."
Most of these critics of Biden knew what a lid was and wasn’t. They weren’t confused. They were trying to fool and manipulate their audience, as they do every day.
Biden, meanwhile, was conferring with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom on a joint statement, which they issued later Monday. The allies declared their support for Israel and condemnation of Hamas while recognizing “the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.”
And Fox News was undoubtedly looking for the next opportunity to nitpick and distort during a human tragedy.