President Trump took his complaints about Fox News, his biggest bastion of support on television, to a new level on Wednesday, claiming that the network “isn’t working for us anymore.”
His tweets made explicit Trump’s long-held belief that Fox belongs to him and his supporters. Despite daily cheerleading from “Fox & Friends” in the morning all the way until “The Ingraham Angle” at night, Trump suggests that the network is not sufficiently loyal to him.
“We have to start looking for a new News Outlet,” he tweeted on Wednesday, inadvertently lending credence to critics’ claims that Fox is akin to state-run TV.
In the past Trump has promoted a much smaller conservative channel, OANN, which has positioned itself as a friendlier network to Trump.
He didn’t mention OANN on Wednesday, but he seemed to be working the refs by slamming Fox for interviewing a Democratic party spokeswoman.
The network had a White House spokesman on the air just a few minutes later — but evidently that’s not good enough for Trump.
The president has lodged complaints about Fox more than a dozen times this year, oftentimes when he sees Democratic candidates and analysts on the air.
His tweets appear to be an intensifying pressure campaign to keep the network “in line,” so to speak.
Last week he also commented to members of the media that “Fox is a lot different than it used to be.” He said conspiratorially that “there’s something going on at Fox, I’ll tell you right now, and I’m not happy about it.”
No, the 6 p.m. anchor Bret Baier said in response, “Fox has not changed.”
Fox spokespeople have declined to comment on the president’s attacks throughout the year, and declined again on Wednesday. The silence stands in stark contrast to the approach other news outlets have taken when targeted by Trump. Earlier on Wednesday, for example, Axios defended its reporting after Trump denied ever talking about trying to nuke hurricanes.
While the network isn’t commenting, Brit Hume, the network’s senior political analyst, replied to Trump on Wednesday and said “Fox News isn’t supposed to work for you.”
Of course, the network’s most popular hosts do support Trump in big and small ways, whether by defending his decisions, demeaning his opponents, or distracting from his scandals.
Those opinion hosts are rewarded by Trump. It is the news anchors who earn his ire. His anti-Fox tweets usually come after he sees stories on the network’s daytime newscasts, which are anchored by journalists Iike Shep Smith, Bill Hemmer, and Sandra Smith.
While some of the news hours have a rightward bent, the anchors generally don’t display the pro-Trump sycophancy that’s a signature feature of the opinion shows.
Wednesday’s flareup happened when Trump said he had just watched Fox “heavily promoting the Democrats” during Sandra Smith’s interview of DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa.
Trump said Hinojosa was “spewing out whatever she wanted with zero pushback by anchor,” which, ironically, is what Trump often does during interviews with his Fox friends like Sean Hannity, who has in his time off-air also served as an unofficial adviser to the president.
Trump then listed off some of his previous grievances about Fox, including the existence of Shep Smith’s 3 p.m. newscast and the presence of liberal commentators Donna Brazile and Juan Williams.
He called Fox “HOPELESS & CLUELESS” and said “they should go all the way LEFT and I will still find a way to Win – That’s what I do, Win. Too Bad! I don’t want to Win for myself, I only want to Win for the people. The New @FoxNews is letting millions of GREAT people down! We have to start looking for a new News Outlet. Fox isn’t working for us anymore!”
Just one day ago, Trump tweeted out promotion and praise for one of Fox’s pro-Trump hosts, Jeanine Pirro, who released another Democrat-bashing book on Tuesday. “Out today, go get it!” Trump said shortly after Pirro appeared on Fox to sell the book.
Trump also routinely posts videos of Fox segments he likes, touts the network’s ratings wins and tweets congratulations to the opinion hosts. So he tries to build up the pro-Trump personalities while griping about the news coverage, especially when it involves Democrats.
Hinojosa responded to Trump’s tweet about her and said “Thanks for watching.”