The Cock and the Fox

or Trump and the Media


Going back to The Nun’s Priest’s Tale, one of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, there is the popular “beast fable” involving Chanticleer the Cock and Reynard the Fox. This is the modern version.

Chanticleer was a noisy, domineering egotist who thought that he was so mighty that his crowing raised the sun. As such, all the animals should adore and honor him.

Reynard was a sly, cunning creature. He used his wiles to gather information from many animals and he would piece together stories that he could use for his own advantage.

Chanticleer’s reputation grew and grew. He was perceived as powerful. He acquired more space in the barnyard, then married a hen. Through his bargains with the Farmer, he continued to get more space, and he married again and again. Finally, he wound up with seven wives. The Farmer saw this, and gave Chanticleer his very own house. It was White, connoting the power and the prestige that Chanticleer had acquired.

Reynard the Fox heard more and more about the rooster, Chanticleer. Reynard gathered more and more information about Chanticleer, and found that the more he knew and spread the news to the other animals the more his own advantages grew.

But Reynard could not gather the information, organize it, and relay it to all the other animals all by himself. He hired others to assist him — weasels, skunks, and rats — and he created a reporting system called The Fox Network. It became powerful, and most of the animals (not knowing any better) began to listen for its reports.

Fox reporters began to cover everything Chanticleer had to say. No longer content with reporting his daily raising of the Sun, the reporters began following his messages, captured in 280 peeps per message. Chanticleer’s boasting increased his interest among the animals, and the Fox Network became Chanticleer’s messenger service.

Some animals began to whisper among themselves. They questioned why Fox Network — supposedly an “independent” service — was reporting everything that was favorable to Chanticleer and did not say anything that questioned Chanticleer’s authority or his conduct. Some animals were disturbed that Chanticleer had seven wives, but he kept going after more and more hens. Others didn’t like Chanticleer’s attacks on some animals who were supposedly “different” but who were good, family-oriented animals all the same.

After two years of ruling the barnyard from his White house, Chanticleer decided to shake things up. He instinctively knew that the animals would be unsettled by changes. If he did everything according to plan, he would create certain crises, and would then fly down, settle things, and be viewed as The Hero, thus adding to his already-enhanced Glory.

Chanticleer decided to attack animals trying to enter his Barnyard from the south. Whole groups of them — families — desperately tried to get in, fleeing from the brutal lives they were forced to live in their own barnyards. But Chanticleer knew that his supporters — the least-informed animals — could easily be tricked into believing whatever he said.

So Chanticleer got rid of the animals who were in charge of guarding the entrance to his Barnyard, and put in others who were even more vicious. They liked separating the baby animals from their mothers and fathers and putting them in cages. Some of Chanticleer’s supporters liked to see the harsh treatment given to the newcomers, because they were afraid of the animals coming from the South. But they also did not like to see parents and children being separated.

Increasing numbers of animals hated to see this. They asked why Fox wasn’t reporting about this, and why other reporters had to work extra hard to get the truth published to the rest of the animal world. They began to see that the Fox Network and Chanticleer were simply using each other — and hurting the rest of the animals in the process.

More and more animals became restless. In the third year of Chanticleer’s term as King of the Barnyard, more than half the animals were against him. There were rallies and angry demonstrations of frustration with the lies that Fox had been spreading to advance Chanticleer’s agendas. They were angry that they had been deceived by Fox, supposedly an “independent” reporter of “fair and balanced” news, but really nothing but Chanticleer’s mouthpiece.

By the fourth year of Chanticleer’s term, something amazing happened. Some particularly clever animals put together a legal action in the Animal Court and sought to change how the Fox Network was run. They argued that the basis for letting Fox report news was that Fox had to be truly independent and provide facts, not opinions disguised as news; however, Fox had been publishing outrageous opinions and outright lies generated by Chanticleer and his close supporters so that it was not truly a “news network.” As such, it had to lose its license, or it had to stop using opinions and lies as so-called “news.”

The judges on the Animal Court had been appointed by Chanticleer and approved by his close supporters in the Animal Congress. Everyone thought that the lawsuit didn’t have a chance. They expected the judges to come up with some terrible reasons to dismiss the lawsuit. And in normal times, those views would have been right.

But something amazing happened.

Just as it appeared that the lawsuit would be dismissed, Fox reporters interviewed Chanticleer and asked him for his opinion about the lawsuit. Chanticleer, bursting with ego and false pride, said: “It was good I put in those judges. I knew they were crooks, but they were my crooks, so anything I said or did would receive their blessing. Let’s get this lawsuit over with and let’s Make the Barnyard Great Again!”

The Animal Court judges were crooks, but they also had their pride, and they did not want to be publicly accused of being crooks by the rooster who put them there.

So, to protect themselves, the judges had to allow the lawsuit to proceed.

As it went along, the jurors in that case saw just how deceitful and harmful Chanticleer was, how he had hurt so many animals through his vanity and narcissism, and how he was destroying the Barnyard through his woeful ignorance of what was really important.

The jurors returned a verdict: shut down Fox News!

Soon afterwards, more and more animals became “woke” and realized that they had been lied to and cheated by Chanticleer. By the time of the election for the King or Queen of the Barnyard, Chanticleer’s career was over.

And in the aftermath of the election, Chanticleer was removed from the White house. He was soon dispatched, covered with spicy breading, and became a fine Sunday dinner for those who had been hurt most by his regime.

Mmmhmmm good!