Fox News Employees Revolt Over Russia Coverage
Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.
Anonymous Fox News employees expressed to CNN their level of discomfort at Fox’s embarrassing coverage of the indictments of two senior Trump campaign staffers and a guilty plea by a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser.
Early on October 30, news broke that a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his interactions with people linked to the Russian government and that former Trump campaign officials Rick Gates and Paul Manafort had been indicted and surrendered themselves to the Justice Department. In response, Fox News anchors and personalities attempted to downplay the developments and even claimed the news was bad for the Democrats.
Fox’s morning show, Fox & Friends, was on-air when the news broke, but the show devoted significantly less time to the story than its competitors and instead ran stories about Halloween candy, purported liberal media bias, and cheeseburger emojis. Fox’s new host Laura Ingraham called the arrests a “nothingburger,” host Sean Hannity said the guilty plea was insignificant because “I never heard of the guy,” and reporter James* Rosen lied about the time frame of Manafort’s indictment to claim it was “well before” Manafort’s association with the Trump campaign (Rosen later corrected his report). Tucker Carlson focused on the brother of Clinton associate John Podesta and displayed a chyron stating, “Russia Hysteria Backfires On Democrats” was displayed on the screen.
CNN spoke with Fox News sources for its report who expressed embarrassment at their networks’ coverage, with one Fox News personality saying, “I want to quit,” and another saying Fox’s coverage “does the viewer a disservice and further divides the country.” From the October 31 CNN article:
Some employees at Fox News were left embarrassed and humiliated by their network’s coverage of the latest revelations in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling, according to conversations CNN had with several individuals placed throughout the network.
“I’m watching now and screaming,” one Fox News personality said in a text message to CNN as the person watched their network’s coverage. “I want to quit.”
“It is another blow to journalists at Fox who come in every day wanting to cover the news in a fair and objective way,” one senior Fox News employee told CNN of their outlet’s coverage, adding that there were “many eye rolls” in the newsroom over how the news was covered.
Fox News journalists took significant issue with their network’s opinion hosts, who deflected from the news and, in Sean Hannity’s case, characterized Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt,” a term Trump used on Sunday in a angry tweet to describe the probe.
“That segment on Outnumbered [questioning Mueller’s integrity] was absurd and deserves all the scorn it can get,” a Fox News employee told CNN, referring to the network’s noontime talk show.
The person added that it was “laughable seeing Hannity and [Laura] Ingraham,” two Fox News opinion hosts who are openly supportive of Trump, “tripping over themselves saying [Mueller’s team has] found nothing thus far.”
Header image by Sarah Wasko / Media Matters