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Fox News is trying to normalize collusion

The network is entering dangerous territory to defend Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian attorney.

This week brought another test of Fox News’s willingness to defend the Trump administration in the face of growing evidence that the Trump campaign attempted to collude with the Russian government during the election.

On Tuesday, Donald Trump Jr. published an email thread revealing that he, Jared Kushner, and former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort met with a Russian attorney in June of 2016 in hopes of learning incriminating information about Hillary Clinton. The emails also revealed that they believed the information was part of the Russian government’s effort to help Donald Trump win the election.

The story is a major blow to the Trump administration’s defense against accusations of collusion with the Russian government, and may show Trump Jr. committed a federal crime.

It’s also a blow to Fox News, which has spent months downplaying ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

The network spent the week attempting to minimize the story: dismissing the meeting as a setup and arguing that Trump Jr. was too politically inexperienced to understand that he was attempting to engage in collusion.

But Fox hosts also attempted to normalize Trump Jr.’s failed attempt at collusion, describing it as an example of routine opposition research. “How many lobbyists in Washington routinely meet with foreign agents who are seeking to influence American policy? ... That’s standard here and has been for a long time,” argued Tucker Carlson. “Always happens, and if anyone says it doesn’t, it’s a lie,” claimed Sean Hannity.

That defense of Trump Jr.’s meeting — conflating contacts with foreign governments and a clear attempt to collude with a hostile foreign power to affect the outcome of an election — demonstrates that Fox News is willing to normalize even an attack on a basic democratic norm in order to defend the Trump administration.

Watch the video above to see how Fox News circled the wagons to defend Trump Jr.’s effort to collude with the Russian government.

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