Fox “news side” anchor Shannon Bream bragged about the network's news division. A week long review of her show Fox News @ Night revealed the same pro-Trump lies that you'd expect from any of Fox's opinion shows.
After Shep Smith recently resigned from the network (reportedly due to its pro-Trump bend), Bream publicly claimed that the network’s “straight news” side — as distinct from its opinion commentary — is still thriving. “If anything, I’d say our news division is growing, and I’d welcome people to check us out for themselves and make their own decisions,” she told Forbes last week. “I’ll give you an experiment: watch us for an hour, pick one of the news shows: 6, 7, 11,” Bream said. “There are any number of products you can choose. Watch it for a week and get back to me. I would love to hear what you have to say.”
Bream posted a “1 week challenge”:
We decided to take Bream up on this challenge: This writer watched her show for all of last week. Every episode featured a mix of the usual Republican talking points from guests, such as complaints about the alleged unfairness of the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry processes, alongside pro-Trump obfuscations, and outright falsehoods presented without pushback — making the show indistinguishable from any of Fox News’ purported “opinion” shows.
Bream’s show serves to actively misinform her viewers
On the October 21 edition of the show, Fox News correspondent Garrett Tenney merely repeated that in an interview with Fox host Sean Hannity, President Donald Trump talked about issues “such as that [Democratic National Committee] server which the FBI says was hacked by Russians, but the president suspects Ukrainian involvement”:
Neither Tenney nor Bream offered any pushback on the president’s false claim about the DNC server. In fact, not only is there no evidence that Ukraine is involved in the DNC email hack, the server doesn’t even exist as a single physical object. The DNC emails were constructed across multiple cloud computing servers, and the security firm CrowdStrike turned over complete forensic replicas of those virtual disk images to the FBI.
These facts make Trump’s search for “the DNC server” in Ukraine disconnected from reality. But a Fox News viewer might never know that from watching the network’s “news”-side coverage.
On that same Monday episode, Bream presented what seemed like a straightforward overview of Trump’s boast that he’s “bringing troops home” from Syria, reporting, “Critics are pointing to the latest U.S. troop deployments elsewhere in the region asking, what about those troops?”
But the next night, Bream uncritically presented the administration’s talking points about the controversial U.S. withdrawal:
On the October 23 edition of the show, Bream presented a segment about Democrats’ impeachment strategy using rhetoric almost identical to that of the Trump campaign, warning: “As the possibility of impeachment picks up steam, elitists nationwide appear to be seizing the opportunity to offend the half of the country that actually supports President Trump.”
That same day, Fox News had itself reported on the new Quinnipiac poll, which showed Trump’s approval rating at only 38% compared to 55% approval for the impeachment inquiry and 48% support for outright impeachment and removal. But viewers watching Bream’s Wednesday segment would not know that the majority of Americans support the impeachment inquiry.
Then on October 24, Bream hosted renowned journalist Ronan Farrow, whose reporting and new book Catch and Kill on media cover-ups of sexual harassment and assault reports have made enormous waves in the industry. During the interview, Bream stepped out of her supposedly “straight news” anchor role to play partisan defense: She tried to deny Farrow’s reporting that the National Enquirer’s catch-and-kills on Trump included reports of sexual assault and not just consensual affairs.
Bream was out on Friday, but guest anchor Mike Emanuel still played host to more far-out, right-wing conspiracy theories. In a discussion about Attorney General Bill Barr’s ongoing attempts to discredit the previous investigations of the Trump campaign and Russian involvement in the 2016 election, criminal defense attorney David Bruno raised an allegation about Joseph Mifsud, the Maltese professor suspected of being a connection between the Russian government and former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos. (Mifsud’s current whereabouts are unknown.)
“Mifsud is the one that fed George Papadopoulos the original information that Russians had dirt,” Bruno stated. “Now, can you imagine if that came from the United States government internally? I don't know that speculation, but that is the most interesting part about the Italy connection is Joseph Mifsud.”
There was no pushback from Emanuel against Bruno’s reference to a baseless pro-Trump conspiracy theory that the then-presidential candidate was somehow the victim of an elaborate frame-up by the U.S. government.
And as a special bonus to the “1 week challenge,” this past Monday night’s episode featured among other things a discussion with Trump-supporting Fox News contributor Robert Jeffress, an extremist religious right figure who has been criticized for religious bigotry, and estranged Democratic pollster Doug Schoen — both of whom agreed that Trump is not a racist.
“Look, I've known President Trump for four years, there's not one scintilla of evidence that he's a racist,” Jeffress said. “In fact, anybody who knows the president knows that if you support him, he embraces you, regardless of your race. And if you oppose him, he attacks you, regardless of your race. That's the essence of what it means to be colorblind."
Jeffress continued: “But Shannon, I'm not sure the Democrats want to be the ones talking about racism, when in their history, they're the ones who supported the Ku Klux Klan, they opposed the abolition of slavery, and they continue to worship at the shrine of Planned Parenthood.”
In response, neither Bream not Schoen mentioned Trump’s documented history of racial discrimination in housing and hiring, as well as the fact that he built his political following by spreading the racist conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. There are plenty more examples.
As Media Matters previously documented, Bream has also been a reliable mouthpiece for anti-abortion talking points, such as repeating misinformation from the anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress, which engaged in a 2015 smear campaign against Planned Parenthood by releasing deceptive videos. In addition, she has frequently misgendered trans people or referred to them as a gender with which they do not identify. It is a stigmatizing form of harassment that goes against journalistic best practices.
Bottom line: You’re not going to find unfiltered news coverage on Fox News — not even from the “news” side, because there really isn’t a news side at all.