12 hours of Fox News' reaction to Trump wanting to fire Mueller: From denial to confirmation to "do you even care?"

12 hours of Fox News' reaction to Trump wanting to fire Mueller: From denial to confirmation to "do you even care?"

››› ››› NATALIE MARTINEZ & BOBBY LEWIS


Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

President Donald Trump wanted to fire special counsel Robert Mueller in June 2017, but backed down when White House counsel Don McGahn threatened to resign, The New York Times reported on January 25. 

The reactions to the report from Fox News personalities shifted over the course of about 12 hours: They first ignored it, then accused the Times of “trying to distract” the viewers, admitted the report was accurate, insisted Trump has the “constitutional prerogative” to “fire anyone,” asked if viewers “even care” that Trump wanted to fire Mueller, insisted that the story was irrelevant so long as Trump did not actually fire Mueller, and finally appeared to walk back Fox's confirmation of the Times’ reporting. 

Tucker Carlson devoted two sentences to the Times’ breaking report before “a quick programming note” complaining about people calling his show racist.

[Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 1/25/18]

Sean Hannity initially said, “The New York Times is trying to distract you” and attacked the credibility of the report, saying, “How many times has The New York Times gotten it wrong?”

[Fox News, Hannity, 1/25/18]

Hannity later admitted that “Donald Trump wanted to fire the special counsel,” but asked, “Does he not have the right to ask these questions?”

[Fox News, Hannity, 1/25/18]

Gregg Jarrett defended Trump’s attempt to fire Mueller because “Mueller had not one, but two conflicts of interest.”

[Fox News, Hannity, 1/25/18]

Laura Ingraham: “Fox News can now confirm that President Trump ordered the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller last June” as “first reported by The New York Times earlier tonight.”

[Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 1/25/18]

Ingraham: “The president has the constitutional prerogative” to fire Mueller, and “he’s used to firing people when he doesn’t like them.” Ingraham said that “pragmatically and appearance wise it would look terrible, but as a constitutional matter … as the chief executive officer of the country, the head of the executive branch, he has the authority to fire anyone.”

[Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 1/25/18]

Ed Henry: “A source close to the White House telling Fox The New York Times is accurate.” During Fox News @ Night, Henry said that a source confirmed the Times report was “accurate,” adding, “The president did tell top officials last summer he wanted to fire Robert Mueller … This source could not confirm or deny though whether McGahn actually threatened to resign over it.”

[Fox News, Fox News @ Night, 1/25/18]

Fox & Friends’ Ainsley Earhardt asked viewers, “Do you even care?” Fox & Friends hosts went through a series of excuses to disregard the Times’ reporting. Co-host Pete Hegseth claimed this “screams of a leak from the special counsel," while co-host Ainsley Earhardt noted, “The president says it’s fake news,” adding, “What do you think about that? Do you even care?”

[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/26/18]

Fox & Friends’ Pete Hegseth: “There’s a huge difference between talking and taking action.” Earhardt then moved on from the Times report, saying that Trump “says it's fake news, so let’s move on to talk about something that you all care about. That’s the wall and that’s keeping America safe.”

[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/26/18]

White House correspondent John Roberts: “I’m told that the president never told McGahn to fire Mueller and McGahn never threatened to quit over it. So, there’s obviously some competing stories here.”

[Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 1/26/18]

Fox contributor Newt Gingrich called reaction to the Times article “schizophrenic insanity.” Gingrich claimed that “the left” was now trying to make Trump “not liking Mueller” into an “obstruction of justice” charge.

[Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 1/26/18]

Fox anchor Sandra Smith: “The president says this is simply not true. Fox did its own digging and noted a distinction.” After Roberts' report, Smith said that Fox found “a distinction” between the Times' reporting and what Fox sources were saying. The distinction, according to Smith, was that “the president did not order the firing but said he could do it if he wanted to.”

[Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 1/26/18]

Fox contributor Mike Huckabee: “Bob Mueller is still on the job. So what the heck has The New York Times got going?”

[Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 1/26/18]

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