For decades, Fox News executives have responded to the critique that the network serves as a mouthpiece for the Republican Party by pointing to the work of its “news side” journalists. That argument has always been dramatically overstated. But President Donald Trump’s election and his administration’s effective merger with Fox has created a new problem for the rebuttal: Many of Fox’s longest-serving “news side” staffers have headed for the exits.
Catherine Herridge, Fox’s chief intelligence correspondent and a veteran of more than two decades there, is the latest to leave the network. CBS News announced in a Thursday morning press release that she had been hired as a senior investigative correspondent. In what can easily be read as a dig at her prior employer, the statement quotes Herridge as saying, “I feel privileged to join a team where facts and storytelling will always matter.”
Herridge’s reporting at Fox often aligned with Republican talking points and fed the conspiracy theories of the network’s prime-time stars. But she had nonetheless won the respect of journalists outside Fox, and her departure is another blow to Fox’s embattled “news side.”
Just three weeks ago, longtime Fox anchor Shepard Smith stunned media observers and his colleagues by announcing his departure from the network where he had worked since its founding in 1996. Smith had drawn scorn from the president and the network’s hardcore audience members for regularly using his program to debunk Trump’s disinformation and rebut right-wing conspiracy theories, and he said last year that he stayed on at Fox because he was worried about what might replace him. But remaining there as the impeachment inquiry into Trump’s conduct opened new rifts between the network’s “news” and “opinion” sides was apparently too much for him.
Smith and Herridge are Fox’s highest-profile departures, but they are not the only ones. Carl Cameron, another early Fox hire, left his job as the network’s chief political correspondent in 2017, and he has since stated publicly that he did so because the network’s “right-wing hosts” had “drowned out straight journalism with partisan misinformation.” And Adam Housley and Conor Powell, both long-tenured Fox correspondents, quit last year, reportedly because they were dissatisfied with the network’s unabashed support of Trump. That trio had spent a total of nearly 50 years at Fox.
Many in Fox’s newsroom are reportedly dissatisfied with the network’s programming under Trump. Fox staffers speaking anonymously to reporters have over the last few years given quotes like Fox “feels like an extension of the Trump White House,” “We have a chance to turn the corner at Fox, and perpetuating this conspiracy theory damages our integrity,” “ARE WE STILL AIRING THAT SHIT?!” and “People throughout the company think a new line was crossed.”
But to the extent that there has been a battle of values between Fox’s “news” and “opinion” sides, it is clear who is winning. Fox’s “news” side has been routed and those who can are abandoning the field.
The network belongs to Donald Trump and his loyal Fox propagandists.