Two anchors that Fox News often points to as proof of the network’s straight-news bona fides remained mum on Monday when Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway casually tossed out the baseless conspiracy theory alleging collusion between New York Times reporters and the Biden campaign.
Following the Times’ blockbuster Sunday report revealing that President Donald Trump only paid $750 in federal income taxes during his first year in the White House, the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden released an online ad looking to capitalize on the story.
The ad, which features stock images and text highlighting the average annual taxes paid by various occupations and professions, was dropped about five hours after the Times story was published. But based on this unremarkable achievement by the campaign’s rapid-response team, various right-wing figures and Trump officials have accused Democrats of coordinating with the Times on the story to hurt the president.
Appearing as the lone male co-host on female-centric panel show Outnumbered, Fox News chief political anchor Bret Baier first weighed in on the Times story by noting that the president has said the report is “fake” before shrugging off the political impact of the detailed piece on the president’s finances.
“On the big picture, for the ad, yes, it is effective,” Baier said about the Biden campaign spot. “But does it move the needle for anybody who hasn’t been through this before? I’m not sure.”
Hemingway, a senior editor of right-wing pro-Trump outlet The Federalist, insisted that the president’s tax avoidance—which reportedly features him declaring massive business losses, $70,000 in hair styling as a business expense, and depreciation—shows that Trump does “things that probably all of us do” when filing taxes. Arguing that Trump did nothing “illegal or immoral,” the pundit concluded with her accusation.
“I don’t see this as being a particularly effective hit, even if it was quickly coordinated with the Biden campaign,” Hemingway cheerfully proclaimed.
Despite Hemingway’s inflammatory claim, neither Baier or Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner provided any pushback or correction. Instead, Faulkner turned to liberal Fox News commentator Marie Harf, saying they were “almost out of time” and “want to hear from you.”
The following hour, however, Faulkner again appeared to lend credence to the unfounded assertion when Trump campaign spokesperson Hogan Gidley raised it during an interview.
“It’s interesting to note that the Biden campaign did already have, as soon as the story broke, little lapel buttons for all their supporters, to be sold online talking about the story and the president’s taxes,” Gidley declared. “The coordination seems to be in lockstep so far.”
The Fox News anchor, meanwhile, quickly noted that the Biden campaign “also had an ad” before teeing it up so the two could discuss on the other side.
Over on another network, Team Trump’s attempts to smear Times journalists as actively colluding with the Democratic Party was met with a slightly different reaction. After White House spokesperson Brian Morgenstern repeatedly made the accusation on Monday morning, CNN anchor Poppy Harlow shut him down.
“It’s not OK to accuse them, with no facts, of coordinating with the Democratic Party. Please stop doing that or this interview will end,” Harlow exclaimed. “Stop attacking the press!”