Image: Getty

Intrepid New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer has dropped another revelatory report, this one about the deep, incestuous ties between Fox News and the White House. In the piece, numerous sources, including former White House aides, tell her that Trump “is more influenced by Fox pundits and guests than by his staff, or by the intelligence experts who brief him.”

It’s been obvious for some time that Fox News is essentially a Trump propaganda machine, but Mayer’s article stipulates that, while Fox executives cozy up to Trump, Fox appears to have more influence over Trump rather than the other way around. It’s worth asking of a network with such influence, then: where exactly do they get their batshit ideas from?

Fox peddles in outrage, and apparently, sometimes the source of outrage is a random dude in Georgia. In one particularly alarming anecdote, Mayer reveals that former Fox News co-host and Kimberley Guilfoyle, who currently dates Don Jr. and left the network to join a pro-Trump super PAC, frequently sourced her theories from a man named David Townsend:

To the astonishment of colleagues, the Fox co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle often prepared for “The Five” by relying on information provided to her by an avid fan: a viewer from Georgia named David Townsend, who had no affiliation either with Fox News or with journalism. She’d share the day’s planned topics with Townsend, and then he’d e-mail her suggested content. A former colleague of Guilfoyle’s says, “It was a joke among the production assistants—they were, like, ‘Wait till you hear this!’ She actually got research from him! It was the subject of hilarity.”

Townsend is a frequent contributor to the fringe social-media site Gab, which Wired has called a “haven for the far right.” (He has promoted the idea that “physically weak men” are “more likely to be socialists,” and has argued that it is not anti-Semitic to observe that “the most powerful political moneybags in American politics are Zionists.”) The server company that hosts Gab removed it from the Internet temporarily after it was revealed to have posted hate-filled rants by Robert Bowers, the gunman who killed eleven people at a Pittsburgh synagogue, last October.

Advertisement

Townsend described himself to Mayer as “a keyboard warrior,” and then issued a vague threat against her: “I’ve sent stuff to various people at Fox for years, and I don’t get a penny for it,” he said. “I don’t know what tree you’re barking up but you better be careful.”

Incredible operation they’re running over there.