There seems to be a lot of confusion among journalists why President Trump's base, Republicans in general, remain loyal to him despite the cruelty, incompetence, and corruption of his administration. Obviously, the relatively consistent economy and lack of major wars matter: he is shockingly unpopular with the general public relative to his fundamentals. But, the other thing that keeps Trump afloat is Fox News (and the rest of the Republican media world). Fox News is a Republican propaganda organization. It is not a news organization. Yet, mainstream media and technology platforms insistence that it is a news organisation provide legitimacy, and access, to a sophisticated propaganda machine that shields its viewers from reality.
Just like Russian propaganda outlets RT or Sputnik, Fox News should be able to freely exist, but there is no reason for people to treat Fox News like a news organization.
1) Fox News uses every inch of their website, every second of their TV time, to further the agenda of the Republican Party. The occasional neutral story or commentator is not because they are letting down their work, but serves as a convenient shield so they can claim some legitimacy. Shepard Smith seems like an honest reporter, but he airs at 3 PM ET. The top front sections of the website and the key prime-times slots are always tuned towards the Republican message of the day. And, the message control is amazing. The website, Twitter handle, and prime-time hosts are in lock-step each day, a much more consistent and disciplined team than the White House itself. On Fox News Hillary Clinton's absurd IT Security issues are still top news over 500 days after the election, and yet, shockingly, no coverage of Jared and Ivanka Trump's use of their own private email servers located in Trump Company. Or, any of the massive corruption scandals engulfing the Trump administration.
1A) Fox News "Democrats" are washed-up former Democrats who, for some money and power, regularly denounce "their" party for Fox. Fox News does not have actual, current Democrats on their shows, they hire people who are happy to lose, like a patsy in professionals wresting. Examples include Mark Penn and Douglas Schoen who polled for President Clinton, but with a unique combination of centrist and opportunistic beliefs are happy to say the Democratic party is too far left (no matter what they are saying).
1B) Fox News likes to quote people in their Twitter feed, making absurd positions seem legitimate. This can include just outrageous positions or just flat-out lies. But, a quick read it looks like a vetted position. Notice how the Twitter feed does not even use quotations around the statement about what the liberal media is doing. Or worse, just a complete lie about the Democratic position on something.
1C) Build articles around random Twitter quotes. It used to be the generic: "some people say", but that has evolved to find someone who actually said it. Or, sometimes, they do not even bother! Who is slamming Facebook? Oh, it is Fox News. Basically, if you cannot get a former Democrat, use a Republican or Fox News personality. If you cannot get a Fox news personality or Republicans, use a random person on Twitter. If you cannot get a random person on Twitter, just make up the quote.
1D) Other new channels almost as bad in helping Trump. CNN is the birthplace of false equivalency. MSNBC hires right-wing hacks to fill-out their lineup. And, both still have journalistic standards. There is no equal-opposite to Fox News.
2) Fox News has no journalistic standards. They do not fire journalists who make up lies and perpetuate them through their network; because, it is their business model. Like bipartisanship, civility, helping working people, journalistic standards are something that the Republicans want to hold others to, while ignoring them themselves. Mainstream media, and liberal media, would fire nearly everyone at Fox News for their flagrant violation of basic journalist standards.
2a) Big, cruel lie carried on for a week and then quietly dropped it after damage was done. This entire story is a complete lie. This story dragged an innocent, dead young man into their cruel lie. They did it for a week and then moved on. Sean Hannity kept going even after Fox News issues a very small note saying it was not true.
2b) Pipeline from absurd lie to President Trump's Twitter feed is short and runs through Fox News. On June 26, 2018 a hard-line Iranian cleric accuses President Obama of making a crooked side-deal with Iran during the nuclear agreement: the concept is absurd and there is no evidence of it occurring. On July 2, 2018 Fox News put it on their website and news channels, and Present Trump tweeted it out the next day. No need to study Russian bots, just a short movement from Iranian cleric to President Trump.