FOX News continues to audition for the role of Trump regime state media organ, and that includes softball "interviews" with all of Trump's cabinet members.
Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt was clearly taken aback last year when occasional Fox & Friends fill-in host Ed Henry grilled him about a number of ethical scandals facing his administration.
And Pruitt had a good reason to be surprised. In past interviews with President Trump’s favorite cable-news show, the then-EPA chief’s team chose the topics for interviews, and knew the questions in advance.
In one instance, according to emails revealed in a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the Sierra Club and reviewed by The Daily Beast, Pruitt’s team even approved part of the show’s script.
Fox & Friends has long been a friendly venue for Trump and his allies, but the emails demonstrate how the show has pushed standard cable-news practices to the extreme in order to make interviews a comfortable, non-confrontational experience for favored government officials.
Cable-news veterans told The Daily Beast that it is common for television producers to discuss topics in advance with their subjects; and, on occasion, producers will ask pre-interview questions to understand what a subject has to offer, and why their information is relevant.
However, it is widely frowned upon to offer public officials pre-interviews, as this can help the official avoid difficult questions.
And providing and seeking approval scripts is even more of a taboo.
“Every American journalist knows that to provide scripts or articles to the government for review before publication or broadcast is a cardinal sin. It’s Journalism 101,” said David Hawkins, a CBS News and CNN veteran who teaches journalism at Fordham University. “This is worse than that. It would and should get you fired from any news organization with integrity.”
“I can’t imagine why a high-level newsmaker—like a White House official—would ever receive a formal pre-interview,” added Sid Bedingfield, a former CNN executive who now teaches journalism at the University of Minnesota.
“Those are designed to ensure that the interview subject has something relevant to add to the story—that it is worth spending time and resources to conduct the interview. A top White House official who has the power to shape public policy around a particular issue would obviously be relevant. In those interviews, the journalist should force the newsmaker to defend policy decisions, not help sell them.”
But that's not what FOX News is for. It's for advancing the agenda of the people who run FOX News, and that means the agenda of the Trump regime. It's state media in all but name.
In fact, it's much worse, because FOX still pretends it's not a wholly owned subsidiary of the GOP, when everyone else knows differently. Trump may give up on them at some point, but right now I'd consider them as corrupt as Russia Today is for Putin.
Compare that to say, MSNBC, which is now taking steps to no longer fall into the Trump propaganda trap.
It had been nearly a month since Sarah Sanders had held what was once known as a “daily” briefing. So when the White House press secretary — along with White House officials Larry Kudlow and John Bolton — took the podium on Tuesday afternoon, cable-news channels jumped right on the proceedings. Well, most of them, anyway.
While CNN and Fox News carried the tripartite briefing from the very beginning, MSNBC stayed away — until it had blown off the entire session.
In doing so, it had missed a chance to beam a live presentation of Kudlow saying, “We’ll see what happens. … Our economy’s in very good shape right now”; of Bolton saying he hadn’t listened to the audio recording of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi (“I guess I should ask you, why do you think I should, what do you think I’ll learn from it?”); of Sanders saying this about Trump and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation: “I don’t think the president has any concerns about the [Mueller] report because he knows that there was no wrongdoing by him and that there was no collusion.”
Instead of all that, MSNBC carried segments on the following topics: Trump’s trade wars; the state of the auto industry, in light of GM’s announced plant closings; the stock market and the welfare of the U.S. worker; a deadly attack on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan; a Guardian report that Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, had met with Julian Assange; and the U.S. Senate election in Mississippi. After the press briefing concluded, MSNBC plowed ahead with more on GM, including an interview with Hamtramck, Mich., Mayor Karen Majewski, a segment on the Mueller investigation, a politics roundup, a mention of “giving Tuesday.”
Look what you can accomplish when you decline to hand over your airwaves to unreliable narrators.
When there's nothing coming out of the Trump regime but propaganda, news outlets aren't beholden to cover it as news. MSNBC chose not to play the game, which was the correct choice. Here's hoping they do more of that in the future.