Finally, Fox News is talking about impeachment — but there's a catch

Rest assured that there is one subject Fox will actually always cover

By Gabriel Bell

Published January 16, 2018 2:10PM (EST)

 (AP/Richard Drew)
(AP/Richard Drew)

Fox News, which continues its prosecution of Hillary Clinton's reputed crimes on a daily basis, will be diving deep into the storm of salacious facts and curious fictions that led to the 1998 impeachment proceedings against her husband, President Bill Clinton.

Because it's time to hold a president accountable for the lies he told.

According to Variety, Fox News has announced the creation of "Scandalous," a seven-part documentary series hinged on the investigation into the Clintons' investments in the failed Whitewater real-estate project, an investigation that metastasized into a five-year Congressional probe — which eventually revealed the president's affair with intern Monica Lewinsky, one that began when she was 22 and he was 49.

In connection with testimony pointing to that relationship, Congress voted on articles of impeachment against Clinton, one for obstruction of justice and another for perjury. Ultimately, while the House would impeach the president, the Senate would acquit him on all charges.

While the president himself would only suffer arguably minor legal consequences, the investigation into Whitewater, which eventually resulted in the investigation headed by independent counsel Ken Starr, dominated headlines, ruined reputations, lives and careers, stalled at least some of Clinton's initiatives, transformed the national discourse, created the permanent — if possibly false — perception that the president and his wife were corrupt and, as it turns out, helped turn Fox News into a ratings juggernaut, thanks to its ceaseless and sometimes irresponsible, mad-dog coverage of the case.

Now, months away from the 20th anniversary of those impeachment proceedings, Fox News is going back to that same well through seven hours of interviews with investigation players including Starr, fellow counsels Robert Fiske Jr. and Robert Ray, former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., convicted and pardoned former Clinton business partner Susan McDougal and Lewinsky informant Linda Tripp.

This would perhaps be all well and good from a different outlet. But Fox, perhaps in its efforts to shield the shortcomings and corrupt behavior of Republicans (including President Donald Trump) from the full light of day, has continued to assail the Clintons for the last 20 years. Currently, Sean Hannity appears on a mission to prove something, anything, about Hillary Clinton's already litigated hacking problems and frame her minor connection to the sale of the Canadian mining company Uranium One to a Russian consortium as an act of treason. It's not "sticking" in the strictest sense, though the Department of Justice is hinting at yet another investigation of the oft-probed, never-charged former secretary of state and presidential candidate.

As well, it's good to remember that, thanks to the concerted efforts of Fox News and pundits such as Rush Limbaugh, many Americans still believe, without evidence, that the Clintons have murdered multiple people, Fiske investigation subject Vince Foster included. While there were genuine questions to be answered about the Whitewater land deal and President Clinton's sexual behavior while in office, Fox News under Roger Ailes used the investigations into both as a launching pad for such toxic, provably false conspiracy theories about the Clinton family and administration — propaganda that, in part, helped usher Trump into office and inspire everything from Pizzagate, to Bernie Bros, to the formerly fringe fairy tales both parties use. Twenty years on, Fox News' late-90s propaganda is still present and influential.

With both Clintons' involvement in politics clearly on the wane — if not over — it seems that Fox News, now clutching for straws on the couple, estimates that holding its favorite targets to the fire one more time for old, old reasons will still draw viewers. Thanks to the vicious, often false narrative it helped create and continues to sustain, it's probably right.

Gabriel Bell

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