When Khizr Khan, the father of one of the few Muslim-American U.S. soldiers to die in Iraq, gave his blistering address at the Democratic National Convention last Thursday, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly was talking with commentator Brit Hume about Hillary Clinton’s emails.
As Khan held up a copy of the U.S. Constitution and told Donald Trump, “You have sacrificed nothing!” Fox cut to a commercial break that, coincidentally, included an attack ad against Clinton followed by a trailer for the new Ben-Hur remake.
More surprising, however, is the fact that Fox also failed to air an ostensibly similar speech at the previous week’s RNC.
While Fox specifically may have just missed the boat on Khan, whose speech would soon become the biggest story of the DNC, the network can thank none other than Donald Trump for causing them to miss out on the remarks of Patricia Smith, whose son, Sean Smith, was one the four Americans to die during the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya.
Smith’s speech, which contained lines like, “She deserves to be in stripes!” as Republicans chanted “Lock her up!” from the audience, was not seen by Fox’s audience because at that exact moment Trump decided to call into the network for a live phone interview with Bill O’Reilly, essentially interrupting one of his own convention’s biggest moments.
This past weekend, Trump proceeded to insist he has made “sacrifices,” pointing to his own business success as a prime example, and then attacked Khan’s wife Ghazala for standing silently, despite the fact that she had previously explained her grief over the loss of her son made it difficult for her to speak publicly. Meanwhile, on Fox News Sunday, Hillary Clinton disputed Smith’s claims that she distorted the facts about what precipitated the Benghazi attack, telling Chris Wallace, “I don’t hold any ill feeling for someone who in that moment may not fully recall everything that was or wasn’t said.”
All of this brings us to Monday morning’s Fox & Friends, during which hosts Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy attempted to deflect attention away from Khizr Khan’s escalating feud with Trump by accusing the mainstream media of employing a “double standard” when it comes to these two stories.
“Sean Smith lost his life in Benghazi and it was one week earlier at the Republican convention where Pat Smith directly and personally blamed Hillary Clinton for her son getting killed,” Doocy said. “And why isn't this getting coverage?”
“I was on the floor for that,” Kilmeade added. “I did not know that no networks covered her. Nobody covered those remarks live but almost everybody covered Khan’s, Mr. Khan’s remarks live.”
In reality, CNN and MSNBC covered the speeches of both Smith and Khan live while Fox News was the sole cable-news network to show neither. So in that sense, there is no “double standard.”
This is especially important because on that first night of the RNC during the 8 p.m. hour when Smith spoke, Fox News had more viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined. During the 9 p.m. hour on the final day of the DNC, when Khan delivered his remarks, Fox News came in a distant third place in the ratings behind those two networks. That means that while upwards of 10 million people saw Khan speak on cable news alone—not including the millions more who have since watched online—less than 5 million saw Smith.
While some at Fox may want to pin that failure on the “mainstream media,” they apparently only have themselves to blame.