Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.
If you have tuned in to Fox News since the network called the Alabama Senate race for Democrat Doug Jones over Republican Roy Moore, you may have had the sublime pleasure of watching its commentators drive a bus over Breitbart honcho Steve Bannon, back the bus up, and drive it over him again. Bannon was perhaps the most vocal supporter of the confirmed racist and reported child predator, barnstorming the state on Moore’s behalf both during the primary run-off against Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) and during the general election, and wielding Breitbart’s resources in support of Moore’s campaign. And Fox isn’t letting its audience forget it, warning viewers that Bannon’s penchant for waging war against the Republican establishment could be hazardous to the party’s electoral position and President Donald Trump’s agenda.
Bannon is “a man we’ve been given to believe was a master political strategist,” senior political analyst Brit Hume sneered moments after Fox declared Jones the winner. “But he went down and he really did go all in for Roy Moore. And this is a state where it’s very hard for Republicans to lose and his man lost.” Politics editor Chris Stirewalt added later that night that the result shows Bannon “was wrong” about the race, and suggested that Bannon now may want to reconsider “this primary battle stuff” because it could cost Republicans more elections in 2018.
“To many Republicans, especially Steve Bannon, [Strange] represents the swamp, they wanted to drain the swamp. And so rather than support the GOP candidate, the establishment candidate, in Luther Strange, Steve Bannon went 100 percent behind this guy, Roy Moore,” Fox & Friends’ Steve Doocy said this morning. “This is what happens when Republicans don’t stick together,” his co-host Ainsley Earhardt responded.
Fox’s corporate cousins at the Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal also chimed in this morning. “The Alabama result shows that Mr. Bannon cares less about conservative policy victories than he does personal king-making,” the editorial board wrote. “He wants to depose Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader even if it costs Republicans Senate control. GOP voters, take note: Mr. Bannon is for losers.”
Moore’s defeat exposes the weakness in Bannon’s dominance over Republican politics, and Fox has reacted by shifting from a soft alliance with Bannon to a repudiation of his strategy.
Fox is encouraging its viewers to place the blame for this humiliating loss of a Republican Senate seat in beet-red Alabama on Bannon, not on Trump, who vocally endorsed Moore even after women began coming forward to report that he sexually abused them. Its commentators have stressed that Strange, not Moore, was Trump’s first choice for the seat, and that the unique aspects of the race mean that it wasn’t about the merits of the “Trump agenda.”
Fox & Friends host on Doug Jones winning in Alabama: “This was not a referendum on Trump. I feel like it was a referendum on Harvey Weinstein” pic.twitter.com/cqcXJStgQk
— John Whitehouse (@existentialfish) December 13, 2017
Header image by Sarah Wasko / Media Matters