Reprinted with permission from Media Matters
Immediately after President Joe Biden's first official press conference, Fox News had a complaint that now even some mainstream voices are covering as a storyin and of itself: The president did not call on network correspondent Peter Doocy.
The problem is that Doocy is not really part of a "news" organization at all. Fox News is instead the linchpin of a right-wing entertainment complex, while its own CEO Lachlan Murdoch has called the network the "loyal opposition" to the new administration. Fox also purged a number of its arguably legitimate journalists following the 2020 election, in addition to cutting down its "news side"in favor of more right-wing opinion programming, and would rather stir up cultural grievances than discuss serious national issues.
Furthermore, it is now clear that Doocy would've used such an opportunity to ask Biden about a running set of conspiracy theories from the network. And even besides that, Fox's own running spin on other key issues still filtered through in the questions from other reporters.
Slate's Ben Mathis-Lilley noted that the press conference featured questions seemingly right out of Fox's own talking points — including narratives originating from Stephen Miller, the former Trump immigration adviser with ties to white nationalist ideology who has now become a major presence on Fox.
NBC News chief White House correspondent Kristen Welker asked Biden during the press conference, regarding the U.S.-Mexico border: "Did you move too quickly to roll back some of the executive orders of your predecessor?"
Biden responded that the policies he reversed involved "separating children from their mothers," adding that he was only "ending programs that did not exist before Trump became president" and which had undermined both "international law" and "human dignity."
This question's framing echoed Fox's own purported "news side," such as anchor Harris Faulkner's interview with Trump this week, which maintained that Biden had undermined the protection of the border.
But in reality, Biden has drawn back Trump's border closure only slightly, in cases of unaccompanied minors and some families with young children. The policy has otherwise largely been kept intact, to the point that an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who first sued the Trump administration over this issue calls it "flatly illegal" and declares, "There is zero daylight between the Biden administration and Trump administration's position."
But in the meantime, many people in mainstream media are adopting Fox's broad framing of the issue, instead of properly examining the details.
Almost immediately after the press conference, Fox anchors John Roberts and Sandra Smith had on Doocy, who literally held up a binder to demonstrate the questions he wanted to ask. These subjects included "the investigation into the origins of" COVID-19, as well as about "this big idea to completely transform the economy" with green jobs.
Some key context here: Fox News has long pushed the theory that the coronavirus originated in a virology lab in China — even accusing Dr. Anthony Fauci of bearing culpability for it, too. (Just to be clear: Genome analysis has consistently shown that the coronavirus evolved naturally and was not man-made.)
Fox News anchor Dana Perino, former White House press secretary under President George W. Bush, said that if she were still working at the White House, "I would have told the president to call on Peter Doocy," and that Biden could have answered Doocy's questions.
"Why make Peter Doocy a story, right?" she said. "Just take his question and move on."
In the next hour, Fox anchor Martha MacCallum brought Doocy on again, to ask him what questions he would have asked the president if he'd gotten a chance. Doocy did not mention the "origins of COVID" this time. Instead, he said in more general terms that not enough questions had been asked about the pandemic and the transition to a greener economy.
"I just wish that maybe the schedule could have been done a little bit differently today, so we could have the president for longer," Doocy said, ending his appearance on an apparently sarcastic note. "But he's the president, and he was off to do something that the leader of the free world has to do — 3 o'clock on a Thursday."
"So next time, you should be at the top of the list," MacCallum replied in a friendly tone, to which Doocy readily agreed.
On the subject of a green economy, it is also worth noting that Fox News was a near-constant source of false information on the Texas blackouts in February, wrongly blaming the disaster on frozen wind turbines and "Green New Deal" policies — though of course, the Green New Deal has not been enacted in the Republican-run state, and the state's fossil fuel sources had also frozen over due to an overall failure to winterize the Texas power grid.
By contrast, local media in Texas widely debunked the misinformation, and a poll released earlier this month from the progressive strategy firm Data for Progress found that the American public at large did not buy into this propaganda campaign — though only a narrow plurality of Fox News viewers were able to provide the correct answer on what had caused the blackouts.
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