FOX & Friends | Media Matters for America

FOX & Friends

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  • Trump’s Fox & Friends interview shows he knows exactly what he’s doing with media attacks

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    When President Donald Trump called in this morning to his favorite program, the Fox News morning show Fox & Friends, it seemed inevitable that sooner or later the conversation would turn to the president’s virulent hatred for journalists. Trump spent much of his presidential campaign and presidency thus far embroiled in an ongoing war against what he terms the “fake news” media, and indeed today’s interview featured several such attacks, with the president calling out NBC’s Chuck Todd by name. But the president also confirmed that his criticisms of the press aren’t merely a sign that he hates public criticism -- they’re a deliberate strategy intended to convince his supporters not to believe critical information about him.

    During a long tangent about his 2016 Electoral College victory, Trump portrayed media coverage that suggested he had a low chance of winning as an effort to “suppress the vote,” designed to trick the viewers into not voting because they would assume it was futile. “They don’t know it’s fake news,” the president said of his supporters. “I have taught them it is fake news.”

    I have taught them it is fake news.

    Trump is correct. While his attacks build on a decades-long conservative campaign to undermine the news media, his ferocious, unending feud has triggered a noticeable dip in support for the press among Republicans since the beginning of the presidential campaign. He is trying -- and succeeding -- in keeping his supporters from accepting bad news about his presidency.

    Delegitimizing alternative sources of information is a necessary step for a president and administration that constantly lie, have a wildly unpopular agenda, and are embroiled in a host of corruption scandals. If Trump’s supporters come to trust reality over the president’s words, he’s toast.

    Throughout the interview, Trump divided up the press into two factions. On one side, there’s ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and the rest of the mainstream media, whom he described as “fake news” outlets that are conspiring against him. On the other side, there’s Fox, which he described as “tough” but “fair.” “In all fairness to Fox,” Trump said, “you guys don’t always treat me great. You treat me fairly.”

    If Fox -- a network known for its sycophantic Trump defenses -- becomes the standard for tough coverage, the president knows he has nothing to worry about. That’s what this whole campaign against mainstream media has been about.

  • Right-wing media take remarks CNN’s Jim Acosta made about death threats out of context

    Acosta was discussing death threats he and other journalists have received. Some outlets pretended he was attacking Trump voters.

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Right-wing media are taking a clip of an interview with Jim Acosta out of context to claim that CNN’s chief White House correspondent was disparaging President Donald Trump’s voters as “just not smart enough.” But a closer look at the interview in question shows that Acosta was discussing the repeated attacks on journalists emanating from the Trump White House and his “concern … that a journalist is going to be hurt one of these days” by someone who took the president’s comments literally.

    On April 24, Variety published an interview with Acosta and two other well-known journalists who cover the Trump White House in which they discuss a recent trend in the Trump era of reporters finding “themselves getting death threats” as a result of their work. In response to that and a question about Trump calling journalists fake news, Acosta said, in part, “The problem is is that people around the country don’t know it’s an act. They’re not in on the act, and they take what he says very seriously. … They don't have all their faculties in some cases, their elevator might not hit all floors. My concern is is that a journalist is going to be hurt one of these days, somebody's going to get hurt. And at that point, the White House, the president of the United States, they're going to have to take a hard look in the mirror and ask themselves whether or not they played a role in this, whether they created this toxic environment that resulted in a journalist getting hurt."

    But conservative media figures have present Acosta’s words out of context in an attempt to accuse the CNN correspondent of slandering Trump “voters.” Fox & Friends showed only the portion of Acosta’s quote about people who “don't have all their faculties in some cases, their elevator might not hit all floors” and did not clarify what question he was responding to. Numerous other right-wing and pro-Trump media outlets and personalities, including former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, have similarly taken Acosta’s words out of context to accuse him of “trash[ing] the intellect of Americans.” From the April 25 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    PETE HEGSETH (CO-HOST): Well, Tomi, on another topic, your favorite reporter gave an interview -- I’m just kidding, Jim Acosta gave an interview yesterday with Variety, talked about voters and gave us an input into his mindset. Take a listen to what Jim Acosta said.

    [BEGIN CLIP]

    JIM ACOSTA (CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT): The problem is is that people around the country don't know it's an act. They’re not in on the act, and they take what he says very seriously and they take attacks from Sean Spicer, and Sarah Sanders, and what they do to us on a daily basis very seriously. They don't have all their faculties in some cases, their elevator might not hit all floors.

    [END CLIP]

    HEGSETH: “They don’t have all their faculties.” They’re just not smart enough, Tomi.

    TOMI LAHREN (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): I never get tired of the leftist mainstream media insulting Trump voters because it makes it even easier for us to go back in 2020 and re-elect him. The more they tell us that we’re stupid, the more we’re going to go back and vote for Donald Trump, so thank you for the boost. And I would caution the leftist mainstream media, because I know that they want to see a Democrat take it in 2020, so let's have a cautionary tale from one Hillary Clinton who called us a basket of deplorables and also insulted our intelligence. How did that work out for Hillary?

  • Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has appeared on Fox News four times more than on the other major TV networks combined

    Like other Trump officials, Zinke heavily favors the president's favorite network

    Blog ››› ››› EVLONDO COOPER



    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has appeared on Fox News four times more often than on the other major cable and broadcast networks combined, Media Matters has found. And for the last nine-plus months, as Zinke has been increasingly dogged by scandals, he has not given interviews to any major channels other than Fox networks.

    In exhibiting a clear preference for Fox News during his 13-plus months in office, Zinke is following the same pattern as many of President Donald Trump’s other cabinet officials and top aides, including Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt.

    Zinke has gotten soft treatment on Fox News. During his interviews, the network's hosts and journalists rarely asked about his scandals. Instead of confronting him with tough questions, they let him peddle Trump administration talking points and trumpet brand-burnishing policies such as “Bring Your Dog to Work Day.” 

    Zinke appeared on Fox News 13 times and other major networks three times since he took office

    Zinke gave 13 interviews to Fox News and one each to CNN, MSNBC, and CBS. From March 1, 2017, when Zinke was sworn in, to April 17, 2018, Zinke appeared on Fox News 13 times. He granted only one on-air interview apiece to the other major cable news networks, CNN and MSNBC. On broadcast TV, Zinke appeared only on CBS; he gave no interviews to ABC or NBC.

    Zinke appeared most often on Fox & Friends, a show that shapes Trump’s decision-making. Here are all of Zinke's appearances on Fox News during his time as interior secretary:

    Fox & Friends’ interviews with Zinke were good examples of how he was treated across the network. When the hosts were not feting him for his Navy Seal service or lauding him for enacting Trump's deregulatory agenda, they allowed Zinke’s statements on policy to go unchallenged. Zinke's September 20 appearance on Fox & Friends stands out for its breeziness. Host Brian Kilmeade accompanied Zinke on a tour of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and neglected to ask the secretary about a controversial recommendation Zinke had made just days earlier to shrink four national monuments, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah.

    Here are Zinke's appearances on major networks other than Fox:

    On cable business news networks, Zinke appeared on Fox Business seven times and CNBC once

    Zinke’s preference for Fox extended to the Fox Business Network, which he has appeared on seven times, compared to once on rival CNBC. Fox Business, like Fox News, regularly echoes Trump administration talking points and attacks the administration's perceived enemies. Fox Business host Lou Dobbs even has the ear of the president, who has invited Dobbs to participate in senior-level meetings via phone.

    Here are Zinke's appearances on Fox Business programs:

    Zinke's sole appearance on CNBC was on Squawk Box on June 29, 2017

    Zinke appeared only on Fox News and Fox Business after becoming embroiled in scandals

    Zinke started getting a notable amount of bad press last summer after an article published on July 26 revealed that he tried to strong-arm Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) into voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Since then, Zinke, like Pruitt and others in Trump's cabinet, has been at the center of numerous scandals involving excessive travel expenses, favors for donors, and undisclosed financial ties to companies that could benefit from his agency’s decisions.

    All of the TV interviews Zinke did with networks other than Fox or Fox Business happened prior to July 26, 2017, after which point his controversies began generating significant media attention.

    Once scandals cropped up, Zinke retreated fully to his safe space. For more than nine months now, Zinke has not granted a single interview to any major TV network other than Fox News or Fox Business.

    Fox News covered a key Zinke travel scandal less than CNN and MSNBC

    On September 28, The Washington Post and Politico reported that Zinke spent more than $12,000 of taxpayer funds to charter a flight from Las Vegas to near his Montana home on a plane owned by oil and gas executives. Commercial flights between the airports run daily and cost as little as $300, the Post reported. Zinke's jaunt was widely reported across cable news the week after the story broke, but more widely on MSNBC and CNN than on Fox.

    From September 28 to October 4, MSNBC ran 27 segments that mentioned Zinke’s travel, while CNN ran 23. The networks' hosts, correspondents, and guests usually brought up Zinke’s travel scandal during wider conversations that included mention of other cabinet members' extravagant travel.

    During the same period, Fox News ran 12 segments about Zinke’s travel -- roughly half as many as each of the other cable news networks. Most of Fox's mentions of Zinke's travel were news alerts restating basic facts from the Post article. When Fox News hosts and correspondents discussed the story on air, they usually downplayed or excused the scandal. For example, on America’s News Headquarters on September 29, White House Correspondent John Roberts said that Zinke was “taking The Washington Post to task” before airing Zinke’s defense for taking private flights. Later in the show, host Sandra Smith remarked, “Zinke makes a fair point,” and noted that he got approval for other controversial flights he took on government planes.

    On April 16, 2018, the Interior Department’s (DOI) inspector general released a report that found Zinke's $12,375 charter flight "could have been avoided." Zinke took the chartered flight so he would have time in his schedule to give a motivational speech to a hockey team owned by a major donor to Zinke's former congressional campaign. The speech did not mention Zinke's work at the Department of Interior. The inspector general’s report concluded, "If ethics officials had known Zinke’s speech would have no nexus to the DOI, they likely would not have approved this as an official event, thus eliminating the need for a chartered flight. Moreover, had ethics officials been made aware that the Golden Knights’ owner had been a donor to Zinke’s congressional campaign, it might have prompted further review and discussion."

    Kevin Kalhoefer contributed research to this report. Charts by Sarah Wasko.

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched the following terms in Nexis and iQ media to find Zinke’s on-air TV appearances from the date he was sworn in as secretary of the interior on March 1, 2017, to April 17, 2018: “Zinke OR Zinky OR Interior Secretary OR Secretary of the Interior OR Secretary of Interior.” We used the same terms to search cable news networks’ coverage of Zinke’s travel controversy from September 28 to October 4, 2017.