The New York Times‘ Jeremy Peters profiles “Fox & Friends,” the FNC morning show that found itself in hot water a few weeks ago after it ran a piece deeply critical of President Obama. Peters reveals that the White House actually called Fox News about the piece, something that rarely happens these days, despite the occasionally rough history between the two.
The two sides have managed a sort of détente lately. And after the White House raised objections to the Obama video, the network removed it from its Web site. (In an angry phone call, the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, told the network’s executive vice president for news, Michael Clemente, that even by “Fox & Friends” standards the video crossed the line, according to two Democrats who weren’t authorized to speak of the private conversation.) The news division at Fox has long tried to avoid having its reporters appear on the show whenever possible.
“Do we make mistakes? Absolutely,” said Bill Shine, executive vice president for programming at Fox News. “And when we make them we try to fix them, apologize for them, get out in front of them.”
Peters also speaks to someone who has remained out of the limelight for a while, but used to be a regular on the program: former Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY).
“The conventional wisdom among Democrats is: Why participate in their Kabuki theater?” said Anthony Weiner, the former New York congressman who was one of the few members of his party regularly to accept Fox News invitations. He said those who ignore the network make a mistake by passing up a loud and influential megaphone, one that has no equivalent in cable news.
“You can huff and puff about how outrageous it is,” Mr. Weiner added. “But they have millions and millions of people watching them. And you have to proceed under the assumption that at least some of those people are persuadable.”
Peters notes that the network views “F&F” as being an “entertainment” program, and not a news program. That may be technically true, but the show has plenty of newsmaker guests. Two former “F&F” staffers have told me that political news stories were given preferential treatment over more generalist news stories in pitch meetings, and that “outrage” was preferable over even-handedness.