Authorities say it will be some time before we know exactly what happened in a fatal one-car accident on Wednesday at the Rainbow Bridge connecting the U.S. and Canada at Niagara Falls. But it’s certainly not too soon to call out Fox News’ characteristically loathsome behavior.
First, here’s what we know. Aaron Besecker of The Buffalo News reported on Thursday that there were no explosives and no signs of terrorist activity. A couple was heading across the bridge after stopping at a casino. They had tickets to a concert in Toronto that night. Suddenly the car started moving at a high rate of speed, flew over an eight-foot bridge, and burst into flames, killing both occupants. By all credible accounts, it appears to be a personal tragedy, not an attack of any kind.
But that’s not what Fox News told its viewers. Throughout Wednesday, the right-wing network’s hosts told viewers that the car was packed with explosives and may have been occupied by Islamist terrorists. As CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy wrote in his daily newsletter, “Fox News recklessly smashed the panic button and stoked fear from coast-to-coast.” Darcy added:
Fox News had made a massive error. The type of error that should have given network brass and the reporters involved a giant pit in their stomach. But unlike respected news organizations that acknowledge when mistakes are made, Fox News has refused to issue a correction. Instead, the network stealth edited its online story, with no editors’ note of any sort.
Earlier this year, Fox paid $787.5 million to settle a libel suit brought by the Dominion voting machine company after Fox’s hosts had repeatedly promoted the lies of Trump associates that the machines were programmed to steal the 2020 election from Donald Trump and hand it to Joe Biden. It’s clear that Fox executives have learned their lesson — that is, if you’re going to make things up, make sure there are no identifiable plaintiffs who can sue you.