Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer on Thursday briefly defended NBC News reporter Kristen Welker from Trump campaign adviser Mercedes Schlapp’s attacks, pushing back against the smear that she is a Democratic “activist.”
In recent days, following a hit piece by the New York Post, Welker—who is moderating Thursday night’s presidential debate—has come under fire from Trumpworld over her so-called ties to the Democratic Party. The article cited Welker’s parents’ Democratic donations and a photo she took with President Barack Obama at a White House Christmas party—something a number of conservative media stars also attended—as proof of her activism and liberal partisanship.
With President Donald Trump continuing to hype the article in order to preemptively paint Welker as unfair, Schlapp appeared on Fox News on Thursday afternoon and amplified his attacks.
“What are we going to see tonight from the president?” Hemmer asked the Trump flack. “Is he going after the moderator? Is he going after Joe Biden? Is he doing both? What’s the strategy?”
“Well, here we will see what happens,” Schlapp responded. “What we know about the moderator is she is a bit of an activist. We want a fair debate. We want, you know, the tough questions.”
The Fox anchor quickly interjected, pointing out that Welker “is a reporter” and “she’s not an activist.”
Schlapp, seemingly taken aback, attempted to justify her characterization of Welker by pointing to her workplace in an effort to appeal to Hemmer.
“Well, if you would consider, you know, she worked for NBC and worked for MSNBC which I would say is not necessarily fair and balanced like other stations that we know,” she exclaimed.
“She covers the White House,” Hemmer shot back.
Schlapp, however, would get the last word as she complained that the NBC News anchor has been “highly critical” of Trump before pivoting to the Hunter Biden laptop story, promising that the president will bring up issues surrounding the former vice president’s son at the debate.
While Hemmer only provided a mild rebuke of the smears against Welker and allowed his guest to have the final say, it was still a complete one-eighty over the way some of his colleagues have handled the story.
Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade bashed Welker after the New York Post piece was published, calling her the “most abrasive, most dismissive reporter” at the White House while falsely describing her as a “registered Democrat.” (She is, in fact, a registered independent.)
Fox News host and informal Trump adviser Sean Hannity, meanwhile, raged against her on Monday night, complaining that the “big-time Democrat” would be “in the tank” for Biden at the debate.