Fox News celebrated Trump’s cabinet for a lack of qualifications — and now accuses Biden’s nominees of being unqualified
Also: Business experience is suddenly a problem, when it was a virtue before
As President-elect Joe Biden rolls out his cabinet nominations, Fox News is in turn rolling out its own disingenuous objection to some of the appointees by claiming that they are not sufficiently qualified. But a trip down memory lane — and the Nexis search engine of news archives — shows that this wasn’t really a problem for Fox four years ago, when President-elect Trump was announcing his own cabinet picks.
Just today, Washington Times opinion editor and Fox News contributor Charlie Hurt appeared on Tuesday’s edition of America’s Newsroom, where he and co-anchor Trace Gallagher complained that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra was not qualified to be nominated as secretary of Health and Human Services.
“The California A.G. has zero health care experience, but he does check several boxes on the wish list of progressives,” Gallagher said.
Hurt bemoaned: “This is certainly the great return of the swamp under a future Biden administration. Qualifications don't matter. The only thing that matters about this guy is that he spent 24 years in Congress in Washington. … But that doesn’t make you an HHS secretary.”
But back on the November 23, 2016, edition of Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight, Hurt himself praised Trump picks Ben Carson and Betsy DeVos for not having the typical qualifications. Carson, who was tapped to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, was a former neurosurgeon and Republican presidential candidate with no experience in urban policies, while DeVos, selected to lead the Department of Education, was a former chair of the Michigan Republican Party and party fundraiser, with no education experience other than her years of political activism for private school voucher programs.
LOU DOBBS (HOST): Charlie, what do you make of it? He seems to be moving — seems much faster than, well, his predecessors certainly have in recent memory, and he's also making choices that, as Lee suggests, were not necessarily obvious or conventional.
CHARLIE HURT (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): Not at all obvious or conventional. And so much for the anti-woman racist that we were — have been told for the last year that Donald Trump is.
I think two of the most interesting ones or choices so far is Betsy DeVos for Department of Education and Ben Carson as HUD secretary just because it is — it's sort of surprising. A lot of people thought Ben Carson would be good at HHS. But the truth of the matter is, you know, given his biography — you know, he grew up in Detroit — his wonderful book, Gifted Hands, is a story about a mother, a single mother who raised two sons in deplorable conditions in a place like Detroit and helped them, you know, reach their fullest, greatest potential.
And my goodness, if there's nothing we could get out of, you know, Housing and Urban Development, it would be that. That would be a truly miraculous turnaround. And so I — you know, I think that these are all very, very exciting picks. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 11/23/16, via Nexis]
Similarly, on last Friday’s edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the host delivered a diatribe against Biden’s commitment to bringing diversity in his administration rather than, as Carlson accused, on the basis of merit. He proclaimed that such ideas “stretch back to the Antebellum South and all the way to the ancient caste systems of India.” Carlson also claimed that Biden’s “hirings standards” actually show that he will really be working on behalf of big business.
But back on the December 12, 2016, edition of his show, Carlson and Fox host Laura Ingraham joined together to ridicule Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin’s criticisms of Trump appointees such as Ben Carson, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (ambassador to China), and South Carolina Gov. Nikkie Haley (ambassador to the United Nations) for not being qualified to the positions for which they were nominated.
Ingraham highlighted such Trump nominees as corporate executive Wilbur Ross, who had been chosen for secretary of Commerce, touting his business experience — that is, when she wasn’t ridiculing the ideas of the “establishment” about qualifications and expertise.
TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): You don't have to like all the Trump appointees, I don't. But there is a hostility there that you recognize from other Republicans in D.C. What's that about?
LAURA INGRAHAM: [The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin] is the same type of person. Bless her heart, who will say that anyone is for enforcing our border is anti-immigrant. Anyone who is for examining trade deals with the American worker gets hammered is anti-trade. This is a sessile construction of the establishment that just got dragged in this election.
Let's see, Wilbur Ross, one of the most successful investors in the world. Steel and Coal, he finds dying industries and revives them, so he is not all of that qualified against to run commerce and — oh wait, didn't mentioned, one of the top folks, of course formerly at Goldman, then went into investment films. Incredibly smart, she obviously hasn't met him. It goes on and on obviously General Mattis. These are some of the finest people we have in America let alone qualified to do their job.
Branstad, I don't know what to say about that, I am sure not every pick is a complete home run, but we certainly had a lot of so-called experts over the last two administration both the Bush administration that she is elm mar enamored and the Obama administration, that were the smartest people around as America got weaker and weaker and less powerful and more in debt. So, maybe it's time to give it a different try. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 12/12/2016, via Nexis]
Carlson then quipped that “people like Jennifer Rubin” were the ones who got weaker with Trump’s election.
And last week, on the December 1 edition of The Ingraham Angle, Ingraham and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) accused Antony Blinken, Biden’s nominee for secretary of defense, of being entangled with China through corporate work — citing an article from serial misinformer John Somonon’s JustTheNews site. (Blinken’s corporate work was not even with Chinese companies — but with Western clients seeking to do business with China while still complying with U.S. security authorities, according to the terms of this report.)
Ingraham also repeated a conspiracy theory that during Blinken’s tenure as the managing director of the Biden Center at the University of Pennsylvania, “anonymous Chinese donors gave the Biden Center $22 million over two years.” The university has officially denied that it received any undisclosed solicited donations from China with a university spokesperson telling the student paper earlier this year: “Since its inception in 2017, there have been three unsolicited gifts, from two donors, which combined [to a total of] $1,100.” (Ingraham’s figure appears to have been drawn from foreign donations to the entire university, of which China is one of many foreign sources.)
Just to be clear, Trump’s Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross indeed has extensive business ties in China — including while he served in the cabinet. But that didn’t stop Ingraham from singing his praises as a qualified cabinet appointee four years ago.