How Trump fell out of favour with Fox News

US president's tweets, once full of praise, turn on right-wing news network

John Koblin
Saturday 31 August 2019 16:43
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Trump was until not too long ago among Fox News' biggest fans
Trump was until not too long ago among Fox News' biggest fans

Tensions between the White House and Fox News ratcheted up this week after President Donald Trump declared the network was letting his supporters down and two on-air personalities said they “don’t work” for him.

The back-and-forth began on Wednesday when Trump took to Twitter to rebuke the network for airing an interview with Xochitl Hinojosa, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee.

Mr Trump said Hinojosa was “heavily promoting” Democratic candidates with “zero pushback” from the anchor, Sandra Smith.

“They should go all the way LEFT and I will still find a way to Win - That’s what I do, Win,” he wrote.

Referring to the network as “the new Fox News,” he continued by saying the network “is letting millions of GREAT people down!”

“We have to start looking for a new News Outlet,” he added. “Fox isn’t working for us anymore!”

This was not the first time that Mr Trump had expressed frustration with Fox News, but it was eye-opening.

The president has good relationships with many of Fox’s on-air personalities, including the hosts of “Fox & Friends,” Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro and Laura Ingraham. His former spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, signed on as a Fox News contributor last week.

But whether this is a sign of genuine deterioration in relations between the president and his preferred cable channel or a short-lived dust-up will be closely watched by news executives and throughout the Beltway.

On Thursday, two on-air personalities responded to Mr Trump’s tweets.

Neil Cavuto, an anchor for Fox News and Fox Business Network who has been critical of Trump in the past, said on the air: “Mr. President, we don’t work for you. I don’t work for you. My job is to cover you, not fawn over you or rip you. Just report on you — to call balls and strikes on you. My job, Mr. President — our job here — is to keep score, not settle scores.”

“You’re entitled to your point of view, Mr. President,” he continued. “But you’re not entitled to your own set of facts.”

Brit Hume, a senior political analyst for Fox News, echoed Mr Cavuto’s comments and tweeted, “Fox News isn’t supposed to work for you.”

“We have tried to be fair to him in our news coverage,” Hume said in another tweet responding to someone who had asked why Mr Trump thought Fox worked for him. “Best example: we didn’t fall for the Russia conspiracy theory that ended in such a fiasco for other outlets. Plus, some of our opinion hosts support Trump. (Others don’t.)”

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Fox News declined to comment. The White House declined to comment on Mr Trump’s complaints about Fox News or Mr Cavuto’s retort, preferring to leave the sparring to the president himself.

While in office, Mr Trump has reserved his most cantankerous barbs for other news outlets. This week alone, he has attacked The New York Times, The Washington Post, Axios and NBC.

But the president has increased his criticism of Fox News in recent months. On Sunday, he said the network was “not what it used to be” when he expressed unhappiness with a poll.

He has also attacked Fox News contributor Donna Brazile, anchors Shepard Smith and Chris Wallace, and Fox analyst Juan Williams.

Early this month, Mr Trump said that “watching Fake News CNN” was better than watching Ms Smith’s show and that “whenever possible” he turned to the One America News Network. When Mr Wallace interviewed Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg in May, Mr Trump said Fox News was “moving more and more to the losing side.”

By Friday afternoon, it appeared that Mr Trump had other targets on his mind.

Over the course of two hours, he had tweeted four videos on the Justice Department’s critical inspector general report regarding former FBI Director James Comey. All four clips featured guests criticising Mr Comey, and all four clips were from Fox News.

New York Times

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