Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth is a 2020 fiction book by the American journalist and chief media correspondent for CNN Brian Stelter. The book was first published on August 25, 2020, through Atria/One Signal Publishers and describes the troubling symbiosis between Donald Trump and Fox News.

Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth
Hoax (Brian Stelter).jpg
AuthorBrian Stelter
CountryUnited States
  • Atria
  • One Signal Publishers
Publication date
August 25, 2020
Media type
  • Print
  • e-book
  • audiobook


Stelter draws on over 250 sources, including 140 current staffers at Fox, to detail Trump's ties to Fox News and its evolution from a news network to what he describes as "state-supported TV". He charts the network's origins from its inception in 1996 under Roger Ailes to today, noting Trump's close relationship with the channel emerging back in 2012 when he was given a regular call-in spot on the show Fox & Friends, giving Trump a platform for the birtherism conspiracy and his eventual presidential run.[1]

Sean Hannity

The book also details Trump's entwinement with Sean Hannity, with claims they speak almost daily, while building and sharing each other's rhetoric on such topics as rigged elections, immigration issues, the evils of the Democrats and the "fake news media". Stelter provides incidents in which Trump's campaign speeches and tweets use terminology taken from Hannity's program, and notes that Trump has used Hannity's program to test the ratings he might receive from his voter base on certain political stands or theories.[2] Stelter also calls out Trump and the network's downplaying of the COVID-19 pandemic, with Fox News medical contributor Marc Siegel telling Hannity on March 6, 2020, that "at worst, at worst, worst case scenario, it could be the flu." Sean Hannity had at one time discouraged the use of social distancing to combat the spread of COVID-19.[3] Stelter also credits Hannity with both pressuring FBI Director James Comey to investigate Hillary Clinton's laptop emails only days before the election as well as shifting public opinion against Hillary Clinton as a result of Comey's ill-advised public statement that he was investigating the emails. Fox never made a strong statement to acknowledge that the FBI never found any indication of criminality in any of Clinton's actions regarding the emails.[4]


Jane Eisner of Washington Post gave the book a positive review, and mentioned Stelter's strong partisan stand against the station. In the first few pages, Stelter tells the reader: "This story is about a rot at the core of our politics. It's about an ongoing attack on the very idea of a free and fair press. It's about the difference between news and propaganda. It's about the difference between state media and the fourth estate." Eisner takes an equally strong stand, writing how Stelter shows that "Fox News accelerates and amplifies Trump's denigration of truth, disregard for facts and manipulation of a pliable public into believing an alternative reality." Eisner writes that Hannity and Trump worked together to brand nearly the entire news media as "fake", hypnotizing viewers into believing the dangerous message that "Fox was the only legit network while everyone else was fraudulent." Equally alarming, Eisner comments that Stelter chronicled 20 people who had jumped from the network to the White House, including a member of the Cabinet and a deputy chief of staff, as well as many having gone from the White House to the station, clearly indicating that Fox News, though factually challenged, has taken a strong stand in molding American policy. Eisner says that the book suffers from a reliance on assertions, blind quotes, and unverified accounts, sometimes forgetting to name sources. Nonetheless, Eisner asserts in her article's conclusion that "the book (Hoax) exposes a collusion that threatens the pillars of our democracy."[1]

David Bauder of the Associated Press gave a positive review, saying that the most disturbing parts of the book do not rely on insider access but are pulled directly from on-air broadcasts and the resulting Twitter feeds by Trump which very closely match the content of the broadcasts. These examples demonstrate Trump's continuous reliance on the station to directly mold much of his political stance on a variety of issues.[5] Publishers Weekly provided a positive review, commenting that the book provides "a copious and alarming catalogue of the damage the 'Trump-Fox merger' has done to American journalism and politics."[5] Lloyd Green of The Guardian positively reviewed the book, saying that "Brian Stelter of CNN has produced a well-sourced portrait of the symbiotic relationship between president and presenters" of Fox News. He draws attention to Stelter's message that "Fox News has deliberately and repeatedly downplayed the threat posed by Covid-19 for the sake of making Trump look good, even as the pandemic took hold in Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Texas, ie: Trump’s base."[6]

David Enrich of The New York Times Book Review gave a mixed review, stating that Stelter excels when he explains the forces that caused Fox to embrace propaganda, while still stressing that as a CNN host, Stelter is a Fox competitor and far from impartial. Stelter has been the victim of criticism from Hannity and other hosts, but he clearly admits early on in Hoax that he is "shocked and angry" by what is happening at Fox, and that he is overtly emotional about the station's questionable relationship with facts and occasional reliance on conspiracy theories.[5]


  1. ^ a b Eisner, Jane (25 August 2020). "Charting Fox News's slide from serious news outlet to 'state media'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  2. ^ Enrich, David (23 August 2020). "The Incestuous Relationship Between Donald Trump and Fox News". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  3. ^ Egan, Elisabeth (10 September 2020). "In 'Hoax,' Brian Stelter Ventures Where No Author Has Gone Before". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  4. ^ Stelter, Brian, 2020, Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth, 2020, Atria, One Signal Publishers, New York, London, Toronto, pg. 79
  5. ^ a b c "Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth". Bookmarks. Bookmarks. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  6. ^ "Hoax review: Fox News, Donald Trump and truth v owning the libs". The Guardian. 24 August 2020. Retrieved 2 December 2020.

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