Several Fox News personalities pushed back Wednesday against President Donald Trump after he escalated his public attacks on the right-leaning outlet for its occasional anti-Trump voices.
In the middle of a typically chaotic tweetstorm spurred on by his morning TV viewing habits, the president took aim at Fox News anchor Sandra Smith for having the audacity to bring on the Democratic National Committee’s communications director Xochitl Hinojosa to discuss the upcoming Democratic primary debate.
“Just watched @FoxNews heavily promoting the Democrats through their DNC Communications Director, spewing out whatever she wanted with zero pushback by anchor, @SandraSmithFox,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday. “Terrible considering that Fox couldn’t even land a debate, the Dems give them NOTHING! @CNN & @MSNBC are all in for the Open Border Socialists (or beyond).”
Besides blasting the America’s Newsroom co-anchor, Trump went after a few other Fox News stars who he has recently singled out for not carrying his water on-air.
“Fox hires ‘give Hillary the questions’ @donnabrazile, Juan Williams and low ratings Shep Smith. HOPELESS & CLUELESS! They should go all the way LEFT and I will still find a way to Win - That’s what I do, Win,” he wrote. “Too Bad!”
The president concluded his online tantrum by complaining that Fox News was “letting millions of GREAT people down” and that he needs to “start looking for a new News Outlet” since the one-time “Fair & Balanced” channel “isn’t working for us anymore!”
Almost immediately after the president’s tweets, Fox News senior political analyst and former news anchor Brit Hume sounded off: “Fox News isn’t supposed to work for you,” he wrote.
Hume wasn’t the only conservative Fox star to fire back at the president. Fox News contributor and radio host Guy Benson essentially repeated Hume’s remarks: “We don’t work for you,” he stated.
Furthermore, Benson also said that Trump was “working the refs,” agreeing with Axios’ Sara Fischer that Trump was playing to a “fringe culture” of rabid supporters whom the president hopes would help push Fox News to intensify its already largely pro-Trump coverage.
MediaBuzz host Howard Kurtz, a former Daily Beast columnist, also took a mild swing at the president’s criticism, writing, “our job is to cover both sides.”
Most of these attacks have centered on the so-called “straight news” division or Fox’s liberal commentators. Brazile, for example, has been a favorite target lately.
While Trump’s recent attacks haven’t been addressed publicly by network brass, many of the news-centric figures have publicly rebuked the president. For instance, earlier this month when Trump trashed Fox’s polling, telling reporters that “Fox has changed” and he’s “not happy with it,” Special Report anchor Bret Baier said on-air, “Fox has not changed. We have a news side and an opinion side. Opinion folks express their opinions. We do polls.”
This all appears to be part of the president’s ongoing insecurities about the network’s loyalty and subservience to him. This past spring, following Fox News’ highly rated town hall with Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, The Daily Beast reported that Trump began telling aides to “keep an eye” on Fox, expressing concerns that the network would provide even the remotest positive coverage of Democrats.
And then last month, The Daily Beast reported, Trump began grilling his closest loyalists and confidants at the network—including primetime star Sean Hannity—asking them all the same question: “What the hell is going on at Fox?"
In the end, while Trump sweats Fox’s “straight news” programming and publicly courts other alternatives, those inside Fox News actually feel the president’s repeated attacks are extremely helpful, as it allows them to rebut widespread criticism that the network often acts as “state media,” especially in light of a constantly revolving door between Fox and the White House.
“Everybody wins,” one Fox opinion-side staffer told The Daily Beast.