Fox & Friends is launching pad for GOP general election campaigns

Following their primary victories, Republican candidates have routinely turned to Fox & Friends as their favored venue to mark the launch of their general election campaigns. Through softball interviews, Fox & Friends, in turn, provides them an open platform to promote their campaigns.

Fox & Friends routinely hosts GOP candidates to launch their general election campaigns

Fox & Friends hosts Paladino after his primary victory to tout tea party principles. On September 15, Fox & Friends hosted Carl Paladino, who secured the Republican nomination for governor in New York the night before. Co-host Brian Kilmeade told Paladino that “one of the reasons you decided to get in is because almost no one can argue, New York politics is an absolute travesty. It's a circus, and you're trying to straighten it out.” Co-host Steve Doocy added: “A lot of people say that they voted for you because the GOP in New York State has lurched to the left.” Doocy also asked Paladino, “What's your message to people who say that tea party candidates in some cases cannot beat the Democrats?” After Paladino touted what he considered to be tea party principles, co-host Gretchen Carlson said, “Well, Mr. Paladino, it's not only Albany, New York,” where the tea party movement is taking hold, “it's happening all over the country.”

Fox & Friends hosts O'Donnell to attack “so-called political experts” who predicted her primary loss. Later on the September 15 broadcast, Fox & Friends hosted Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell, a tea party-backed candidate who scored an upset victory against Rep. Mike Castle. O'Donnell attacked “so-called political experts” who predicted that she would lose to Castle “because their pride had just been hurt and their credibility just took a severe shot.” O'Donnell again referred to Castle as an “Obama Republican” and predicted she would win in the general election because Delaware had a lot of “Reagan Democrats” who supported her. Doocy asked her, “How much of the win do you attribute to the support from the tea party people, who were certainly motivated, or how much was just people are motivated because they want to throw the bums out, the anti-incumbency thing?” During the interview, Carlson gave her the “good news” that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had decided that “he is not backing away from supporting you as the winner in Delaware.” Carlson had earlier lambasted the National Republican Senatorial Committee's “suicide” decision to not fund O'Donnell's race.

Doocy, Perino open Fiorina interview by lobbing softballs such as, “How did you do it?” and, “How much are you looking forward to taking on Barbara Boxer?” Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina (CA) appeared on the program June 9, after winning the California Republican Senate primary. Doocy and guest host Dana Perino began the interview by asking her, “How did you do it?” and, “How much are you looking forward to taking on Barbara Boxer come this November?” They also asked her whether she was going to “pool her resources” with California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman because Democrats are “going to come at you with all the firepower that they've got” and whether she's “willing to spend a bunch more” on the campaign. At one point, Kilmeade asked her how she would “answer” accusations from Boxer about her time at Hewlett-Packard.

Fox & Friends goes easy on Angle, suggesting it's “misinformation” and “not true” that Angle wants to “get rid of Social Security.” On the June 14 edition of Fox & Friends, Doocy, Carlson, and Kilmeade hosted Angle, the Republican nominee in the Nevada Senate race, for an “exclusive” interview. Carlson asked her about how “it must be such a whirlwind experience for you, somebody who really has not been in politics before.” Kilmeade asked her about what “message” Nevadans should “be taking by ... giving you the nomination,” and Doocy asked her: "[A] lot of people in the mainstream media ... are trying to marginalize the tea party. They shouldn't, should they?" At the end of the interview, Doocy falsely suggested that it is “misinformation” and “not true” that Angle wants to “get rid of Social Security,” when in fact, Angle's campaign website advocated “transition[ing] out” Social Security. The interview was later harshly criticized by Las Vegas' Fox affiliate as “rife with inaccuracies, softball questions and poor research on the part of the producers and hosts.”

Doocy asks Haley about the “crazy allegations” made about her during the campaign and tells her she is “lucky” to have a Palin endorsement. Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley (SC) also appeared on the program June 9, following her primary victory. During the interview, Doocy discussed “these crazy allegations out there that you have denied” and asked her why her opponents would “make that stuff up?” Perino stated that “the guys were quite desperate because they couldn't win on the merits” and asked Haley what her “biggest challenges going into” the election will be. Later, Doocy stated that Haley is “lucky because Governor Sarah Palin, she selected just a handful of candidates to endorse ... you were one of them.” He asked her, “Have you spoken to her since your win? If you did, what was the conversation like?”

Fox & Friends hosts Rubio following his primary victory to attack his opponents and to advise him on what “would be a really good political ad.” On the August 25 edition of Fox & Friends, Florida Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio appeared following his primary victory. The hosts allowed Rubio to bash his opponent, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, even helping him portray Crist as a flip-flopper. For instance, Kilmeade said to Rubio, “You're not sure what Charlie Crist is going to do. For example, he came out and said I want to ban all offshore drilling. Next thing you know, he's got a key Obama aide as one of his chief aides.” After Rubio said, “Here's the bottom line. I am running against two supporters of the Obama agenda. If people like the direction Washington is taking America, they should vote for [Democratic candidate] Kendrick Meek or Charlie Crist. But if they want their next U.S. senator from Florida to be someone that will go to Washington, stand up to this agenda, and offer a clear alternative, I'm the only one running that's going to do that,” Doocy replied, “That sounds like that would be a really good political ad.” In this case, Fox & Friends also hosted Meek earlier in the broadcast.

Fox & Friends hosts Daniel Webster (R-FL) while trashing his opponent, Rep. Alan Grayson, as a “bomb thrower” who “said some crazy things.” Also on the August 25 Fox & Friends, Doocy hosted Republican congressional nominee Daniel Webster and asked him, “Alan Grayson, your opponent in November, has said some crazy things. He's a real bomb thrower in Congress. Is that going to help you out?” Doocy also said to Webster, “I'll tell you what, this guy, Grayson, voted for the stimulus. That is wildly unpopular in many sectors.”

Fox & Friends is home to smears, inflammatory rhetoric, and rampant misinformation

Fox & Friends at forefront of pushing false smear that Obama attended a “madrassa.” On the January 19, 2007, editions of Fox & Friends First and Fox & Friends, Kilmeade, along with Doocy and Carlson, spent several segments advancing a false report that then-Sen. Barack Obama was raised a Muslim and attended a madrassa, or Islamic school, as a child in Indonesia. At one point, Doocy asked: “When people find out this stuff, they're going to go, 'Why didn't anybody ever mention that that man right there was raised as -- spent the first decade of his life raised by his Muslim father as a Muslim and was educated in a madrassa?' ” Kilmeade responded, “Yeah, is that a problem?” He added: “Evidently, when he was a little kid, he went over to Indonesia and went to a madrassa. He -- in his two best-selling books, he doesn't really mention this in detail.”

Fox & Friends airs altered photos of NY Times reporters while calling them “attack dogs.” On the July 2, 2008, edition of Fox & Friends, Doocy and Kilmeade labeled New York Times reporter Jacques Steinberg and editor Steven Reddicliffe “attack dogs,” claiming that Steinberg's June 28, 2008, article on the “ominous trend” in Fox News' ratings was a “hit piece.” During the segment, however, Fox News featured photos of Steinberg and Reddicliffe that appeared to have been digitally altered -- the journalists' teeth had been yellowed, their facial features exaggerated, and portions of Reddicliffe's hair moved further back on his head. Fox News gave no indication that the photos had been altered.

Kilmeade: Americans don't have “pure genes” like Swedes because “we keep marrying other species and other ethnics.” On the July 8, 2009, edition of Fox & Friends, while discussing a study on the relationship between marriage an Alzheimer's, Kilmeade opined that “we keep marrying other species and other ethnics and ... the Swedes have pure genes, because they marry other Swedes. Because that's the rule.” Kilmeade later apologized for his “inappropriate” comments.

Fox & Friends erased 2006 Hawaii earthquake to attack Obama. Responding to President Obama's March 17 statement that Hawaii “went through an earthquake” and could benefit from a health care reform provision that would help Louisiana cope with Medicaid shortfalls resulting from Hurricane Katrina, Doocy asked, “What Hawaiian earthquake?” In fact, as Fox News reported at the time, President Bush declared a “major disaster” after Hawaii was hit by a magnitude 6.7 earthquake in October 2006.

Fox & Friends' hosted convicted child abuser to blame teen pregnancy on teaching evolution in school. On the August 30 edition of Fox & Friends, guest host Juliet Huddy hosted Colorado Right to Life activist Bob Enyart to discuss the availability of birth control to students at a Colorado school. Enyart, who in 1999 was convicted of misdemeanor child abuse for beating his now-stepson, was cut off by Huddy after professing that the teaching of evolution was partially to blame for high teenage pregnancy rates.

Fox & Friends hosts Graham, who calls Muslims “enslaved by Islam” and claims with Christianity, “they don't have to die in a car bomb.” On April 22 Fox & Friends hosted evangelist Rev. Franklin Graham, son of Rev. Billy Graham, to discuss reports that the Army was considering rescinding its invitation for Graham to appear at the Pentagon on the National Day of Prayer due to objections to his past description of Islam as a “wicked” and “evil” religion. During the segment, Graham preached that Muslims should convert to Christianity and said that they should know that “they don't have to die in a car bomb, they don't have to die in some kind of holy war to be accepted by God, but it's through faith in Jesus Christ and Christ alone.” Graham also called Muslims “enslaved by Islam.” Later in the show, Fox News' Peter Johnson Jr. defended Graham, offering many reasons why Graham's past statements about Islam should be forgiven, including that "[a]fter 9-11, a lot of folks were making those statements." Johnson concluded: “It doesn't make it right, it doesn't make it wrong. He is a human. He may have made a mistake, but do we condemn him now because he's a Christian preacher?”

Kilmeade shows map of 9-11 victims' body parts to attack Park51. On the September 10 edition of Fox & Friends, Kilmeade displayed a map showing where body parts belonging to 9-11 victims had been found in order to attack the Park51 Islamic cultural center. The map showed a red square where the center is planned to be built and dots where remains were found.

Doocy: Unlike “a lot of disasters” Nashville victims not “whining and complaining.” On the May 14 edition of Fox & Friends, Doocy said of flooding in Nashville: "[E]ven though this is a national, and natural, disaster of biblical proportions, practically, you don't hear any whining and complaining from those people. It's not like they're saying 'hey will the federal government please bail us out?'" Occasional Fox News host Courtney Friel agreed that this was how Nashville was different from Hurricane Katrina.

Kilmeade: Muslims “have to understand” being profiled because of “the war that was declared on us.” On the November 10, 2009, edition of Fox & Friends, Kilmeade told Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham: “You get a chance to talk to a lot of Islamic experts, Muslim experts, and people who understand the Quran, and I asked him one time, off camera, I said, 'How do you feel about the extra scrutiny, clearly, you're getting at the airports?' And he said, 'I'm all for it, because I want to get home to my family, too.' And that's really got to be the attitude. So, if you're Islamic, or you're Muslim and you're in the military, you have to understand ... and that's just the fact right now in the war that was declared on us.”

Doocy: “Should those who don't pay [taxes] be allowed to vote?” On the July 28 edition of Fox & Friends, Doocy repeated the false claim that 47 percent of people pay no taxes and asked, “Should those who don't pay be allowed to vote?”

Death panels, rationing, other misinformation finds a home on Fox & Friends. Over the course of one week, Fox & Friends advanced a bonanza of health care reform misinformation, including the falsehood that the bill requires the elderly to go before a "death panel," the falsehood that the House bill would force people into "government designed plan," the claim that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called health care reform opponents “un-American,” the suggestion that a section of the bill that would provide Medicare reimbursement to doctors for end-of-life counseling would create "end-of-life consultants" other than doctors consulting with families, and the prediction that the bill would create a system of rationing that would result in the disappearance of medical procedures like dialysis for the elderly.