Fox & Friends to Trump: Hold fire on Christine Blasey Ford, woman who says Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her

Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

When four women came forward and said that Roy Moore, the former Republican nominee in Alabama for a U.S. Senate seat, made sexual advances toward them when they were teenagers, Fox & Friends all but ignored the story. When women reported during the 2016 election that President Donald Trump had sexually assaulted them, the program, which is one of Trump's favorites, was one of many on Fox that defended him.

But this morning, Fox & Friends took neither of those approaches in addressing Sunday’s Washington Post report in which California professor Christine Blasey Ford came forward and said Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were high school students in the early 1980s.

Instead, hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, and Brian Kilmeade, along with White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, who came on the program, appeared to be sending a message to the president: Don’t go after Ford and make things much worse.


Trump frequently begins his day by watching and tweeting about Fox & Friends, a routine that at times inspires those on the program to direct their comments to him directly. Trump’s aides also reportedly try to use their cable news bookings to influence the president, knowing that he might be watching their appearances.

Some conservative commentators and Trump allies are trying to secure Kavanaugh’s confirmation by casting doubt on Ford and trying to undermine her account. Trump’s own past practice has been to denounce women who report that prominent Republicans engaged in sexual misconduct -- a strategy people close to the White House reportedly expect him to pursue this time as well. That sort of depraved approach benefits from the impact that Fox’s echo chamber can provide.

Fox & Friends’ hosts don’t seem to be willing to participate in that effort -- at least not yet. They didn’t call Ford a liar or say her account is implausible. They didn’t say that her account doesn’t matter because it took place too long ago. They didn’t describe her as an opportunist or suggest that she’s coming forward only because she’s a Democrat.

If that rundown of the program seems like faint praise, there are certainly other conservative commentators pushing all of these angles to one degree or another.

The program’s harshest criticism was reserved for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the ranking member on Senate Judiciary Committee, who received a letter from Ford in July describing the incident but kept it confidential until news of its existence began to leak out. In an interview on the show’s 6 a.m. hour, Fox contributor Tammy Bruce called the timing evidence of “an attempt at a political assassination of a character, an attempt to use an experience like this as a cudgel.” But by the end of the show, two of the hosts were explaining to the third that Feinstein had pledged to keep the letter confidential and thus couldn’t bring it up in the course of Kavanaugh’s hearing earlier this month.​

Fox’s evening lineup of Trump supporters, particularly close presidential allies Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity, seem likely to lash out at Ford tonight. And there’s still time for the Fox & Friends hosts to change their approach. But for now, if the president is looking for a signal to use the power of his office to denounce the woman reporting his nominee for sexual assault, he’s not getting it from his favorite show.