Leave it to tendentious Fox News cohost Steve Doocy to distill the convoluted and alarming circumstances surrounding Donald Trump’s abrupt firing of FBI director James Comey to a simpleminded soundbite.
“Senator, let me ask you this,” Doocy began his leading question to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, who was in the midst of offering his full-throated support on Wednesday morning’s Fox & Friends to President Trump’s astonishing decision of the night before. “I don’t know if you’ve watched any of the other channels this morning, or read any of the papers, but they’re talking about ‘the firing was Nixonian, it has echoes of Watergate with the Saturday Night Massacre.’ For the people who are writing those headlines, what’s your message to them?”
“My message,” replied the seven-term, 83-year-old Iowa Republican, “is suck it up and move on.”
That was as good a maxim as any for the Trump-friendly, top-rated cable outlet’s handling of what the rest of the mainstream media, including Fox News competitors CNN and MSNBC, were treating as a shocking, democracy-stressing constitutional crisis in which the president might well be attempting to thwart the FBI’s criminal investigation into alleged collusion between his 2016 campaign and Vladimir Putin’s army of hackers.
While MSNBC’s Morning Joe stars, Joe Scarborough and his fiancée/cohost Mika Brzezinski presided over a thoroughgoing trashing of Trump’s dubious act—ditto Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota on CNN’s New Day—Fox & Friends was presenting the Comey story as headline news, to be sure, but also as an entirely reasonable exercise of presidential prerogative.
Doocy, Brian Kilmeade and Ainsley Earhardt reverentially recited Trump’s Wednesday morning tweets defending his decision and sliming its critics, while Kilmeade opined: “Now Democrats are going wild spewing conspiracy theories.”
“So why does the left have such a problem with it then?” Earhardt asked former House speaker Newt Gingrich, a paid Fox News contributor since his eager ambitions to be a member of the Trump administration went woefully unrealized.
“Look, if Trump comes out at lunchtime today and says the American flag is red, white and blue, [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer will yell it’s actually fuchsia,” Gingrich quipped, performing one of his patented standup—or actually sitdown—routines that prompted appreciative giggles from the Fox & Friends couch. “They are in a kneejerk ‘if President Trump is for it, it’s gotta be wrong, let me scream for awhile so my donors and my partisans will be happy with me.’” Gingrich continued. “It’s really pathetic.”
Strangely, but perhaps predictably, Fox News’s stance was closely mirrored Wednesday morning by RT America, the Kremlin-financed television outlet that serves as Russia’s principal propaganda arm in the United States.
“Some of the experts we spoke to said they were not surprised Comey was sacked,” the outlet’s British-accented, Moscow-based anchor intoned by way of introducing clips of two such “experts”—RT personality Michael William Lebron (“an Emmy Award winning trial lawyer,” “bluegrass guitarist” and “(out)spoken word performer and raconteur,” according to RT’s web site, who goes by the stage name “Lionel”); and Coleen Rowley, a former FBI whistleblower and unsuccessful Democratic Farmer Labor Party House candidate in Minnesota.
“So he has been in the news, and has been the subject of attack from every faction there is,” Lionel declared about Comey in a screechy monotone. “To say that that he was troubled would be a profound understatement, sir!”
Rowley, who left the FBI in 2004, sagely offered: “There are so many twists and turns going on these days, with all these investigations and recusals, and now this firing, that I don’t think we really can be surprised.”
Back on Fox & Friends, a second paid contributor, former Michigan Republican congressman Pete Hoekstra, echoed: “I think the timing is not that surprising. The president waited till he had his team in place at the Justice Department. That team did an analysis and they made the recommendation.”
Referring to the ongoing congressional and criminal investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election and alleged involvement with Trump associates, Earhardt referred to Doocy and Kilmeade sitting with her on the sofa. “As these guys like to say, there’s no ‘there; there,” she said.
“You should listen to them,” Hoekstra advised.
“I always do,” Earhardt replied with a grin.