“Fox & Friends” doesn’t like the look of itself


(RICHARD DREW/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

“Fox & Friends” is one of the network’s most successful programs. Every weekday, starting at 6 a.m., an average of one million people tune in, far exceeding the combined audience of every other cable news show at the same time. And from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. it is the highest rated show on basic cable.

The story contextualizes the program’s occasionally extreme viewpoints, noting that an executive at Fox News said that “Fox & Friends” “falls under the network’s entertainment umbrella and does not pretend to be straight news.”

The story airs the network’s official defense of the program, via executive vice president of programming Bill Shine:

“We reflect who the audience is,” said Mr. Shine, offering a recent example. “We didn’t spend a lot of time discussing who won the Tony Awards.”

Those elements of balance didn’t impress whoever hovers over the official “Fox & Friends” Twitter feed:

IS FOX AND FRIENDS A CIRCUS? well we close with Circque du soleil...dont read the NYT today another insulting show profile..

— fox & friends (@foxandfriends) June 21, 2012

So just where do the insults reside?

Looking through the profile, by the New York Times’s Jeremy W. Peters, well, it’s hard to find them. The highlights of the piece happen to be descriptions of the content on “Fox & Friends.” Like this passage:

Conspiracy theories about Mr. Obama’s religion once found an uncritical ear on the show’s set. Assertions that Mr. Obama leaked national security secrets for political gain are accepted as fact. And its hosts recently took time on the air to congratulate one of their producers for making a four-minute video that painted Mr. Obama as a failure.

Just the facts there. As here:

There are visits from Hooters waitresses on the “Let Freedom Wing” U.S.O. tour, debates about whether parents who give children large allowances create entitlement societies, and outrage-filled segments on the killing of bald eagles. It is a place where Occupy Wall Street protesters bang drums instead of looking for jobs, Transportation Security Administration agents willingly violate grandmothers and toddlers, and the “War on Christmas” never stands at a cease-fire.

So perhaps what the “Fox & Friends” Twitter feed finds insulting is the programming on its own show. Such a reaction would put it in league with many others.

The Fox News folks are stringing together a record of failing to recognize journalism. Think about Andrea Tantaros calling out journalist Gabriel Sherman as a “harasser” and “stalker” for simply pursing a biography of Fox News chief Roger Ailes. Or perhaps the revulsion of Sean Hannity that details of U.S. government’s national security initiatives would sneak into the public realm via news accounts.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.

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