President Donald Trump on Tuesday acknowledged what his critics have charged for his entire tenure in office, referring to Fox News as “we.”
His morning and late-night tweets have closely resembled the themes of one cable network’s morning show since he took office in January 2017. Sometimes he has even quoted directly from “Fox & Friends” segments, and the right-leaning outlet’s other shows. He’s shared a campaign rally stage with one of its top hosts, Sean Hannity.
And on Tuesday, Trump signaled he views Fox News as a friendly broadcasting entity.
“So weird to watch Crazy Bernie on @FoxNews,” the president wrote about independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders one of the frontrunners in the 2020 Democratic primary fight, doing a town hall on the conservative network Monday evening.
“Not surprisingly, @BretBaier and the ‘audience’ was so smiley and nice. Very strange, and now we have @donnabrazile?” Trump added.
Rarely has a sitting U.S. chief executive so brazenly shown affection and even a strategic alliance to any one media outlet.
The network has gotten over 40 interviews with Trump, while others like CNN and NBC have been shut out. What’s more, Trump hired former Fox News executive Bill Shine as his White House communications director before ousting him earlier this year after a run of negative press coverage; but Shine hasn’t gone far, taking a job as an adviser to Trump’s 2020 reelection fight.
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The former Fox honcho’s early March resignation came a few days after The New Yorker posted a lengthy article suggesting Fox News has become too pro-Trump. The headline blares “The Making of the Fox News White House,” with a subheadline that reads: “Fox News has always been partisan. But has it become propaganda?”
The article quotes Joe Peyronnin, an NYU journalism professor, offering this assessment of the network: “It’s as if the President had his own press organization. It’s not healthy.”
White House officials like Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and chief economic adviser Lawrence Kudlow and a handful of others frequently appear on Fox News and its sister network, Fox Business. However, they appear far less often on the two main competitors to Fox.
On Tuesday morning, an anchor on “Fox & Friends” said, without citing an expert or source, that some of the 2020 Democratic candidates’ policy ideas sound “a lot like socialism.” That is an example of how its daytime anchors and reporters routinely use the same claims as facts — just as do Trump, White House officials, and the president’s 2020 campaign staff.
On Monday, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez told Fox late-morning anchor Bill Hemmer that the network’s non-primetime hosts and the “senior leadership at FOX News” have collectively “pierced that line between [objective] editorial and your Sean Hannity shows.” The latter was a reference to Fox News’ evening lineup, which features conservative commentators as the hosts of opinion shows.
Hemmer defended himself and the outlet’s daytime anchors, saying: “You know there is a line between what we do at 9:00 [a.m.] and what happens in the prime time. It’s like reading a newspaper, Tom. And it has been the same way for a long time. I really hope you come back. I really hope you reconsider. We’ll give you a fair shake.”