Donald Trump is not only a cable news addict, but he makes no secret of his Fox News fandom. He believes CNN is “fake news” because they report upon him critically, and he embraces everything he watches on Fox. In fact, Trump’s been known to immediately seize upon Fox News stories or commentary that appears nowhere else, and he does so in real time on Twitter, which gives his source away. And when these stories turn out to be falsehoods, friction runs rampant as detailed in a new Vanity Fair report.
Most recently, Trump accused British intelligence of helping Obama wiretap Trump Tower after the original baseless accusations were shut down by the FBI and Congress. The “Brits did it” tale was posed on Fox News by commentator Judge Napolitano, yet network anchor Shepard Smith appeared very disturbed by the allegations and insisted that Fox News knew nothing about any wiretapping of Trump by Obama (“full stop.”) The relationship between Shep and other personalities is apparently not the greatest, which sounds dramatic, but there’s a good reason for this:
Fox News’ return to normalcy has not been without its divisions. The Napolitano affair, in particular, has demonstrated the dissent that exists between the network’s bloviators and its more earnest news personalities. Despite its appearance to the outside world as a monolithic force on the right, the network operates internally with a distinction between its news side and its commentary side. Shepard Smith, Chris Wallace, and Bret Baier, among others, are news anchors. O’Reilly, Hannity and Carlson are commentators.
Baier, for instance, distanced himself from the comments. So did Smith. who noted, “Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano’s commentary. Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now president of the United States was surveilled at any time, any way. Full stop.” “You have to read into the way Shep said what he said. And why Bret dealt with it the way he did,” the insider told me.
Much of the Vanity Fair piece concentrates upon Megyn Kelly’s move to NBC and how some employees are relieved after feeling that she received preferential treatment. However, her departure actually yielded higher ratings in the form of Tucker Carlson, and how the prime-time lineup includes commentary solely by white males. And here comes a key term of interest…
Soon after Kelly left to pursue a more mainstream future at NBC, Fox News returned to its natural state. Rupert Murdoch, who stepped in to run the network himself, hand-selected the former conservative wunderkind Tucker Carlson to take over for Kelly. Now, Fox News’s prime-time hours from 8 to 11 P.M. are entirely peopled by white, male commentators: O’Reilly, Carlson, and Hannity. As Andy Lack recently noted at an industry event, the network feels more like “state broadcasting” than it ever did under Ailes. And the formula is working. Carlson, with his perpetually furrowed brow, is drawing higher ratings than Kelly did during her tenure.
Yes, “state broadcasting” appeared in the above paragraph. Just like with Russia, North Korea, and other hostile superpowers. That’s wild enough, but so is the continuing fallout over Napolitano’s comments:
“The key thing Judge Napolitano did was to say ‘Fox News is reporting that …’ and he can’t say that,” this insider told me. “That breaks the trust, and you saw what it cost him,” the insider told me. (Napolitano has been pulled from the network.) “He is not a reporter and knows he’s not a reporter.” This person noted bluntly that the judge’s comments, and Trump’s parroting of them, have created an internal headache: “It’s a disaster. It’s a nightmare.”
Napolitano’s (who has been sidelined for an indefinite period of time) isn’t the only catalyst of chaos. Sean Hannity is also ruffling feathers and ranting about the so-called “deep state,” which plays right into the president’s hands but seems to be at odds with the hard-news guys like Smith at the network. Well, this was an enlightening piece, and you can read more, including details about the uncomfortable working environment that was fostered by Roger Ailes before his departure, here.
(Via Vanity Fair)