Since the day Democrats began their opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, “straight news” programming on Fox has been laundering Republican talking points in covering it. During both special coverage of impeachment as well as regularly scheduled programming, Fox News personalities have been attacking the credibility of House impeachment managers, defending the president’s request for the Ukrainian government to investigate his political rival Joe Biden, downplaying witness testimonies in the House, dismissing the trial as “boring,” and reporting on a single anonymous source who claimed Trump “was not really being serious” when he talked about firing former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
In addition to presenting a deluge of GOP spin as “straight news,” Fox is not giving equal amounts of coverage to the different sides of the trial. Media Matters previously reported that Fox aired more live coverage of Trump’s defense team presenting its case in one night than it showed of all three nights of the House managers’ arguments combined. Together, these tactics of spinning or ignoring facts about the impeachment trial that are unfavorable to the president add up to “straight news” coverage that is intentionally misleading.
TALKING POINT: Impeachment is partisan and therefore illegitimate
Fox anchor Martha MacCallum claimed that “there was no outside voice” other than Schiff in the investigation of Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president, despite public congressional hearings with nonpartisan experts and more than a dozen depositions of witnesses taken by members of the House Intelligence Committee leading up to the Senate trial.
TALKING POINT: Regular people don’t care about impeachment and Democrats only want “revenge”
As they waited for the commencement of the House impeachment managers’ arguments in the Senate, Townhall editor and Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich characterized voters’ reaction to the issue as one of indifference and said the impeachment process was not something “they talk about at the kitchen table.” Pavlich also vilified Democrats, claiming their support for impeachment is based on “revenge for the Mueller investigation not getting the results they wanted in terms of taking down President Trump.”
TALKING POINT: There was no quid pro quo
During a January 23 panel, anchor Shannon Bream repeated GOP talking points when discussing the impeachment trial, defending Trump for not going to the Department of Justice or FBI if he was concerned about corruption. She also went so far as to say there was no nefarious quid pro quo arrangement because when the president asked Ukraine for an investigation into the Bidens, he did not explicitly say it was “to hurt my political opponent.”
TALKING POINT: Trump “was not really being serious” about firing former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch
On the January 24 edition of Fox News’ Bill Hemmer Reports, chief White House correspondent John Roberts said his source told him Trump “was not really being serious” when he talked about firing former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch in a conversation with Lev Parnas, an associate of his personal lawyer Rudy Guliani. He repeated the claim in a later appearance on the “straight news” program Special Report.
TALKING POINT: Trump was using traditional negotiating tactics in disbursing foreign aid
After the conclusion of Saturday’s argument in the Senate impeachment trial, Fox’s Neil Cavuto framed questions for Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) almost exclusively through the lens presented by the Trump defense team. Cavuto repeated talking points from the president’s lawyers that misrepresented Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s testimony and misleadingly compared Trump’s attempt to extract a personal favor from the Ukrainian president to the tactics he’s taken with other foreign aid packages -- an example that Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow also gave in the Senate.
TALKING POINT: The impeachment trial is boring and should be covered less on TV
Fox contributor Mollie Hemingway defended the network’s decision to not air much of the House impeachment managers’ case in the Senate, saying, “What do you do when someone just trivally puts forth forward an impeachment that doesn’t have much substance?” MediaBuzz host Howard Kurtz and Hemingway also both agreed that the hearings were boring.
TALKING POINT: The impeachment scandal is meaningless because Trump eventually provided military aid to Ukraine
On January 27, MacCallum did back-to-back interviews with former Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA). She was much harder on Boxer than she was on Collins, pushing the same GOP talking point about military aid to Ukraine in her interview with Boxer that the Republican congressman later raised himself.