The New Yorker chief Washington correspondent Jane Mayer wrote an opus that was published online today (and in print next Sunday) about the relationship between Fox News and President Trump. It’s a subject that has been explored many times before, but this marks one of the more in-depth exposés we’ve come across.
Mayer calls the network: “Trump TV,” in her headline, and goes on to explain at length why she feels that way.
There’s A TON to unpack in her story.
Mayer says Trump confidants have told her that the president has ranked various Fox News personalities, 1 through 10, based on how loyal each is to “the cause,” so to speak.
She writes that Bret Baier, Fox News’ chief political anchor, is a 6; Hannity is a solid 10. Steve Doocy, the co-host of Fox & Friends, is so adoring that Trump gives him a 12.”
Mayer also brings up CNN’s January 2018 story claiming that Fox News had the scoop about the Donald Trump–Stormy Daniels affair. Mayer writes: “Diana Falzone, who often covered the entertainment industry for Fox News, had obtained proof that Trump had engaged in a sexual relationship in 2006 with a porn actress who called herself Stormy Daniels.”
Mayer repeats the aforementioned CNN report where Falzone alleges that she had the story before the election, and adds that Falzone was told by her superiors: “Good reporting Kiddo, but Rupert Murdoch wants Donald Trump to win. So set it aside.” Falzone sued, and is bound by a non disclosure agreement.
Noah Kotch, most recently editor in chief of The Daily Mail (he left in Jan. 2019), was vp and editor in chief of Fox News digital in 2017. He previously commented on the CNN story regarding the Falzone saga:
“Like many other outlets, we were working to report the story of Stephanie Clifford‘s account in October 2016 about then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump and a possible payment by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. In doing our due diligence, we were unable to verify all of the facts and publish a story.”
Former Fox News digital chief Ken LaCorte, who is also cited in Mayer’s story, had been quoted as saying:
“If I had run that, I wouldn’t have been a good journalist.”… “I was the person who made the call,” he said. “I didn’t run it upstairs to Roger Ailes or others. It was an easy call to make as a senior editor there. That’s what I did. I didn’t do it to protect Donald Trump. Even though we had a story written, it was nowhere near being something that would have passed muster.”
Mayer also alleges in the story that Pres. Trump ordered his former national economic council director Gary Cohn to pressure the DoJ to file a lawsuit to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger, in what seemed to be an effort to retaliate against CNN’s news coverage of him. Whether true or not, it didn’t work, and Zucker was officially promoted to the role of chairman, WarnerMedia News & Sports today.
Then, there’s the case of Fox & Friends.
Mayer chatted with a man named Charlie Black, a longtime Republican lobbyist in Washington, whose former firm, Black, Manafort & Stone, advised Trump in the 1980s and 1990s, “who told me, ‘Trump gets up and watches Fox & Friends and thinks these are his friends. He thinks anything on Fox is friendly. But the problem is he gets unvetted ideas.'”
Mayer also chats with former Fox & Friends co-host Alisyn Camerota, who now co-hosts CNN New Day. Camerota told Mayer that Fox News has some very strong news reporters, but that she left because “she became so troubled by the lack of standards on Fox & Friends that she wrote Amanda Wakes Up, where a female journalist tells her story about what’s basically a blurring of journalistic lines at a cable morning show.”
Camerota told Mayer that while Fox & Friends was a fun show to be on, “it was not a news show. It regularly broke the rules of journalism. It was basically Roger’s id on TV…He’d wake up in the morning with some bee in his bonnet, spout it off to [former Fox News co-president-turned White House comms director] Bill Shine, and Shine would tell us to put it on TV.”
Camerota also alleged that producers would “cull far-right, crackpot websites for content. Never did I hear anyone worry about getting a second source. The single phrase I heard over and over was ‘This is going to outrage the audience!’ You inflame the viewers so that no one will turn away. Those were the standards.”
Lastly, Mayer writes about the future of Fox News after the Disney-Fox deal is finally complete. Lachlan Murdoch, like dad Rupert Murdoch, is a conservative, but according to Mayer, “there’s talk around Fox that he may want to bring the news network closer to the center-right.”
Jerry Taylor, the co-founder of the Niskanen Center, a think tank in Washington for moderates, says, “In a hypothetical world without Fox News, if President Trump were to be hit hard by the Mueller report, it would be the end of him. But, with Fox News covering his back with the Republican base, he has a fighting chance, because he has something no other President in American history has ever had at his disposal—a servile propaganda operation.
Mayer went on Morning Joe this morning to talk about her story.