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Sarah Palin, Fox News and how Trump's media culture war is ...

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The New York Times
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Bannon memorably called the media “the opposition party.” Plenty of Americans agreed: These days, even local TV reporters are likely to be blasted as “fake news” as they try to cover school board meetings.Now, more than a year after Trump’s presidential term ended, three volatile lawsuits forged in the culture-war fire he stoked are making their way through the legal system.All are defamation suits, and the mere names involved suggest just how hot those flames may get: Sarah Palin, the right-wing lightning rod who gleefully slammed the “lamestream media”; Project Veritas, the hidden-camera “sting” outfit that targets journalists and liberals; Fox News, the conservative cable network that morphed into the Trump White House’s propaganda office; and the New York Times, the pillar of elite journalism that became the object of some of Trump’s most scalding attacks — and is now the defendant in two of the cases.Each case has the potential to alter the media business or the practice of journalism, for better or worse. Public trust in the news media, as well as other institutions, has plummeted over the past 50 years.“You can’t take it for granted these days that members of a jury, or even judges, believe that we need a robust free press,” Elizabeth Spiers, a writer and political strategist who, 20 years ago, co-founded Gawker, told me last week.She watched that dynamic play out a few years ago when a Florida jury awarded local hero Terry Bollea, better known as professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, a huge monetary award — millions more than he had sought. (In both cases, Fox News has said that it was simply covering newsworthy comments of public interest, made relevant because the Trump campaign was protesting the results of the election.) But no matter the outcome, they could prompt Fox News and similar media companies to exert significantly more caution about spreading political lies.

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