After Wisconsin officials reported that opponents of Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) turned in more than 1 million signatures calling for a recall election, Fox & Friends hosted Walker for a softball interview in which the co-hosts reassured him that the recall is "not really about" him and said they "wish[ed]" they were interviewing Walker under "better circumstances." This follows the show's long history of promoting Walker and his policies and attacking his critics.
"It's Not Really About Gov. Scott Walker": Fox & Friends Hosts Walker To Sympathize As Recall Petitions Turned In
NYT: "Organizers Say 1 Million Signed Petition To Recall Wisconsin Governor." On January 17, opponents of Walker announced they collected more than 1 million petition signatures calling for a recall election. From The New York Times:
Critics of Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin submitted to the state on Tuesday more than a million signatures, nearly twice as many as required, on recall petitions against him to force a new election.
State election officials now begin the arduous, expensive process of studying the petitions for flaws and duplicated names. But leaders of the recall effort said the number of signatures was so large as to put any serious legal challenge out of reach. The anti-Walker forces needed 540,208 names and had estimated that they would produce at least 720,000, so the still larger number came as a surprise to many.
Barring a legal fight, Mr. Walker, a Republican who took office a year ago and set off a firestorm by curtailing collective bargaining rights for public workers, will face a new election in the late spring or early summer. Around the country, only two governors have ever been removed through recall. [The New York Times, 1/17/12]
Carlson: "It's So Great To See You In Person. I Wish For You Personally It Was For Better Circumstances." On the January 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, the co-hosts interviewed Walker. Co-host Gretchen Carlson began the interview by saying to Walker, "I believe this is your debut on the curvy couch [in the studio] ... Well, it's so great to see you in person. I wish for you personally it was for better circumstances." Later, after Walker said that his administration had "kept all of our promises," Carlson said, "And, by the way, Wisconsin has added jobs in the meantime and cut costs at the same time." Co-host Brian Kilmeade later said, "And what I'm getting from you, and from all the plethora of material, it's not really about Governor Scott Walker. This is about the next election and the direction of our country." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/18/11]
Fox & Friends Has A Long History Of Promoting Walker And His Policies ...
"No One Can Question Your Leadership": Kilmeade Tossed Softballs To Gov. Walker In Fawning Interview. On the November 22, 2011, edition of Fox & Friends, the co-hosts discussed the efforts to recall Walker and then interviewed him. Before the interview, Carlson said to Kilmeade, "One thing I hope you ask him is how many jobs have been created in that state." Kilmeade began the interview by saying, "You're already in motion to protect your position. How disappointing is it that you've got to worry about a recall and not just worry about the state's business?" Kilmeade later said to Walker, "No one can question your leadership." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/22/11]
Fox & Friends Hyped Flawed Jobs Claim To Tout Walker's Policies. On the August 3, 2011, edition of Fox & Friends, Carlson introduced a segment featuring Walker by claiming: "In June, the state gained 8,500 jobs. That's more than half of what the entire nation gained overall." Co-host Steve Doocy added: "One of those reasons for success, the governor, just seven months on the job, Scott Walker has helped the state get back more than a quarter of the jobs lost during the big recession. How did he do it?"
- PolitiFact Wisconsin Rated WI Jobs Claim "False." PolitiFact Wisconsin rated the claim that "more than half the nation's job growth in June came from Wisconsin" false, writing that Walker and GOP state officials were making "a flawed comparison." The Associated Press also reported that the statement "could lead to a faulty inference" since five states had added more net jobs in June 2011 than Wisconsin had. [Media Matters, 8/3/11]
Fox & Friends Extensively Covered Threats To Walker And Republican Lawmakers, But Previously Mocked Threats To Democrats. On the March 14, 2011, edition of Fox & Friends, the co-hosts repeatedly discussed "death threats" reportedly received by Republican Wisconsin lawmakers and attacked Time magazine for referring to Walker as "Dead Man Walker." Yet during the debates over health care reform in March 2010, the co-hosts mocked threats to Democratic lawmakers; Kilmeade asked on the March 25, 2010, edition of the show if "Democrats [are] using" threats of violence "to their advantage to marginalize Republican opposition?" Carlson agreed that it was "disappointing" that Democrats were making the threats public and said that "they should just stop discussing it altogether." [Media Matters, 3/14/11]
Fox & Friends Reversed Poll Results To Falsely Claim Most Americans Favored Ending Collective Bargaining. On the February 23, 2011, edition of Fox & Friends, while discussing protests in Wisconsin over Walker's efforts to end public employees' collective bargaining rights, Kilmeade claimed, as did an on-screen graphic, that a USA Today/Gallup poll had found that "61 percent" of Americans were in favor of taking away collective bargaining rights from public unions.
- In Fact, Fox Aired The Results Backward. In fact, the Gallup poll found that 61 percent of Americans were opposed to "a law similar to [the] proposal in Wisconsin." In the final minute of the broadcast, Kilmeade issued a correction, saying, "I had it reversed." [Media Matters, 2/23/11]
... And Attacking His Critics
Fox & Friends Hosted WI GOP Politician To Misinform About Walker's Anti-Union Legislation. On June 16, 2011, Fox & Friends hosted Glenn Grothman, a Republican state senator in Wisconsin, to promote Walker's anti-union bill and to misleadingly suggest that the legal challenges to the bill simply involved state employees' contributions to their pensions.
- In Fact, Controversy Surrounding Bill Sparked By Cutting Workers' Collective Bargaining Rights; Unions Agreed To Pension Cuts. In fact, protests over the bill and legal challenges to it centered around provisions that stripped most public workers' rights to collective bargaining; and union leaders had already agreed to pension and health care cuts before the bill was passed. [Media Matters, 6/16/11]
Fox & Friends Falsely Portrayed WI Protesters As "Violent." During the protests at the Wisconsin statehouse over Walker's proposal to end collective bargaining rights for public employees, Fox & Friends repeatedly attacked protesters opposing Walker's proposal. On the March 3, 2011, edition of the show, Kilmeade introduced a segment on Grothman being heckled by a chanting crowd of protesters by claiming the protesters were "getting restless and, dare I say, violent." Doocy said, "When you look at that and all the incivility there, you realize that to these people, elections have no consequence, mean nothing." The co-hosts later interviewed Grothman; Doocy asked him, "Were you scared?"
- There Was No Evidence Of Violence On The Video, And Photographer Who Shot It Slammed Fox's Coverage. The full 12-minute video on YouTube showed that no violence occurred and that at times protesters chanted "peace" and "peaceful." The photographer who shot the footage said he "condem[ned]" Fox's "use of my work to distort the truth." [Media Matters, 3/3/11]