Multiple media outlets targeted Fox News this week, alleging the network does not provide fair coverage and is in the tank for President Donald Trump.
The topic came to the fore with the Wednesday announcement by Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez that his party will hold none of its primary debates on Fox, justifying the decision, in part, based on a lengthy piece in The New Yorker, which called the network “Trump TV.”
“I believe that a key pathway to victory is to continue to expand our electorate and reach all voters,” Perez said in a statement to The Washington Post.
“That is why I have made it a priority to talk to a broad array of potential media partners, including Fox News,” he continued. “Recent reporting in the New Yorker on the inappropriate relationship between President Trump, his administration and Fox News has led me to conclude that the network is not in a position to host a fair and neutral debate for our candidates.”
Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan affirmed The New Yorker’s assessment in an Op-Ed titled, “It’s time — high time — to take Fox News’s destructive role in America seriously.”
In it, she concedes that Fox’s past debate moderators, including “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace and “Special Report’s” Bret Baier are solid journalists, but then proceeds to trash the network.
Sullivan — like columnist Jane Mayer, who authored The New Yorker piece — points to the close relationship between Trump and Fox opinion show host Sean Hannity.
“What Fox News has become is destructive,” Sullivan wrote. “To state the obvious: Democracy, if it’s going to function, needs to be based on a shared set of facts, and the news media’s role is to seek out and deliver those facts.
“But everyone ought to see it for what it is: Not a normal news organization with inevitable screw-ups, flaws and commercial interests, which sometimes fail to serve the public interest,” she added.
“But a shameless propaganda outfit, which makes billions of dollars a year as it chips away at the core democratic values we ought to hold dear: truth, accountability and the rule of law.”
Mayer spent a significant portion of her story discussing White House communications director Bill Shine, who was the producer of Hannity’s program several years ago before working his way up to one of the top executive positions at Fox.
Slate’s Josh Voorhees heralded Perez’s call to ban FNC from the debates, arguing the network cannot be trusted.
“Democrats never had any reason to trust Fox to give them a fair shake in the first place,” he wrote. “Now that should be crystal clear in the wake of Jane Mayer’s report documenting in detail how the conservative network has moved from partisanship toward propaganda in the age of Trump.”
The New Yorker’s Mayer rejoiced when she saw Perez used her piece to justify not appearing on Fox.
“Boom! DNC Chair says Fox can’t sponsor 2020 Dem Primary Debate: ‘Recent reporting in the New Yorker on the inappropriate relationship between President Trump, his administration and FOX News has led me to conclude that the network is not in a position to host a fair and neutral,’” she tweeted.
The Daily Wire’s Ryan Saavedra responded, “This ‘reporter’ brags that her story got the DNC to kick Fox News off of the line up of networks that would host a Democratic primary debate.
“Wherever did people get the idea that the media and DNC are in cahoots?”
This “reporter” brags that her story got the DNC to kick Fox News off of the line up of networks that would host a Democratic primary debate.
Wherever did people get the idea that the media and DNC are in cahoots? https://t.co/HoIgu14U6m
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) March 7, 2019
Fox News hopes the DNC will reevaluate whether to hold one of its dozen debates on the network.
“We hope the DNC will reconsider its decision to bar Chris Wallace, Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, all of whom embody the ultimate journalistic integrity and professionalism, from moderating a Democratic presidential debate.
“They’re the best debate team in the business and they offer candidates an important opportunity to make their case to the largest TV news audience in America, which includes many persuadable voters,” Fox News Senior Vice President Bill Sammon said in a statement.
Wallace responded to the DNC decision on Thursday on Brian Kilmeade’s Fox Radio program, The Hill reported.
“I think that the left wing of the party — you know how we talk about Trump derangement syndrome, or Obama? I think that (in) the left wing of the Democratic Party there is Fox derangement syndrome,” Wallace said.
“And even though they know that Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier and I would give a fair debate, the idea of anything with ‘Fox News presents the Democratic debate’ and they were just looking for an excuse and The New Yorker article gave it to them,” he added.
Baier tweeted regarding the DNC decision: “That’s really a shame. When it comes to fairness — our news product speaks for itself. We will continue to cover this 2020 race fairly & will continue to invite Democrats- Republicans & Independents on to talk about key issues & substance with our very large viewing audience.”
That’s really a shame. When it comes to fairness – our news product speaks for itself. We will continue to cover this 2020 race fairly & will continue to invite Democrats- Republicans & Independents on to talk about key issues & substance with our very large viewing audience https://t.co/z0TdftcVmz
— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) March 6, 2019
New York Times White House Correspondent Peter Baker hit the DNC for the decision, tweeting an article by Politico’s Jack Shafer.
“If you can’t handle questions from @BretBaier or @FoxNewsSunday’s Chris Wallace, do you really have what it takes to be president?” Baker questioned.
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) March 7, 2019
Fox News media analyst Howard Kurtz highlighted on “America’s Newsroom” on Thursday that people need to keep in mind the distinction between Fox’s news division and its prime time opinion programs like “Hannity.”
CNN and MSNBC also offer opinion programming during their prime time hours, with shows like “Cuomo Prime Time,” “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon,” “The Rachel Maddow Show,” and “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.”
A 2017 study by the Harvard Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Relations found that during Trump’s first 100 days in office Fox’s news division was the most balanced of the outlets reviewed.
Fifty-two percent of the stories on Fox were negative about the president, while 48 percent were positive.
Meanwhile, both CNN’s and NBC’s stories were 93 percent negative to 7 percent positive and The Washington Post was 83 percent negative, 17 percent positive.