The Washington Post

Has “Fox & Friends” gone rogue again?

A while back, the political world looked on in astonishment as the Fox News morning program “Fox & Friends” aired a nearly four-minute video on the failures of President Obama that bore the packaging of an attack ad. The network got pummeled. A statement on the episode from Fox claimed that the package was the work of an associate producer and wasn’t “authorized at the senior executive level of the network.”

Question: Did the “senior executive level of the network” sign off on putting two very young children before a “Fox & Friends” camera, posing to them a leading question and using them to advance a political agenda? The two kids are Clara and Eliza Sutton — ages 7 and 4, respectively — and they run a business named Cool Blast Lemonade in Texas.

Here’s how Brian Kilmeade of “Fox & Friends” tried to elide the experience of Cool Blast Lemonade with the controversial remarks that President Obama made on July 13 about the relationship between business and government.

KILMEADE: Clara, how do you feel about the president saying that you needed help to start this business? And just speak from within . . .

CLARA: I would say that’s rude because we worked very hard to build this business, but we did have help.

KILMEADE: And your help came from?

CLARA: Our help came from our investors — our dad and stepmom, along with other friends and family.

Inspiration for the lamentable segment appears to have come from this story on titled, “Parents of little lemonade entrepreneurs find Obama’s small biz advice leaves sour taste.” The piece includes this line about 7-year-old Clara:

Clara Sutton didn’t credit local, state or federal government for the stand’s success,

I tripled-checked and cut-and-pasted that quote into this blog post: I swear that line actually appears in the story.

The story quotes Andrew Sutton, father of Clara and Eliza, on Obama’s biz-gov remarks. “It was not very presidential. A leader should lead by being more positive. He should of said, ‘you guys should be the backbone of the economy.’”

It also notes that Andrew Sutton “mostly just got out of the way” of his kids’ lemonade operation, a statement that Clara Sutton sort of contradicts with her on-air assertion that “we did have help.” Kids — why can’t they stay on message?

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

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