Talk about “Media Bias on Full Display”!
Using the ubiquitous right-wing catchphrase that critiques the allegedly lefty journalism biz, Fox News anchor Heather Childers launched a pre-dawn preemptive strike on the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times for slapping their respective slogans—what Childers called “anti-President Trump rhetoric”—on T-shirts offered for sale at around $20 apiece.
Thus the Fox News Channel—which for two decades pretended that it was “fair and balanced” and honored the maxim “we report, you decide” before founder Roger Ailes’s ignominious departure last summer—has removed all confusion (if any still existed) about its guiding spirit and philosophy. Like its nearly decade-old sister outlet, the Fox Business Network, Fox News has seemingly declared itself unashamedly pro-Trump and arguably anti-journalism.
It’s a declaration that, at minimum, places the genuinely truth-and-fact-seeking journalists in Fox News’s employ—Shepard Smith comes to mind—in an awkward defensive crouch. Smith, the highest-profile member of the channel’s careworn journalism caucus, has been consistently calling out Trump and his minions for their reality-warping prevarications, provoking diehard Trumpkins who watch Fox News to demand his sacking on social media.
But Childers—who anchors Fox & Friends First in the sleepy 5 a.m. hour before Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, and Brian Kilmeade share their inimitable brand of wisdom and insight with the cable-viewing public—wore a self-assured smile as she proffered a caveat emptor on “newspapers now cashing in on T-shirts splashed with anti-President Trump rhetoric”—a warning repeated in the bottom-of-the-screen chyron, which added: “NEWSPAPERS SELLING ANTI-PRES TRUMP T-SHIRTS.”
The offending slogans (which Childers implied are mean and nasty to our 45th president): the Washington Post’s “Democracy Dies in Darkness”; the Chicago Tribune’s “Speaking truth to power since 1847”; and the Los Angeles Times’s “Journalism matters.”
It wasn’t clear exactly what Childers, her producers and news writers found objectionable in these slogans (even if New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet recently teased his Post rival, Marty Baron, that his paper’s new watchword, introduced last month, “sounds like the next Batman movie”). As of this writing, Fox News didn’t respond to an email seeking clarification.
Yet, in a sense, Childers was simply being accurate, or at least literal. The president does indeed appear to be opposed to the T-shirts' non-political maxims.
Trump has spoken about his “running war with the media” and variously declared reporters and the trade they practice “evil,” “scum,” “the lowest form of life,” “the opposition party,” “the enemy of the American people” and—his all-time favorite insult—“fake news.”.
It’s an ominous reflection of the brave new world being created in real time by the commander-in-chief of journalism gaslighting that the nation’s most popular news outlet seems to have adopted Trump’s vision of alternate facts.
What can be done? There seem to be no quick fixes for Fox.
But, by all means, buy a T-shirt.