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Opinion Kill ‘Fox & Friends’ before it’s too late

Trump accuses Mueller of bias in Russia probe (Video: Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Back when regular people watched “Fox & Friends,” it was bad enough to warrant killing the show. Back in those pre-Trump-presidency days, the program merely distorted the news in ways that reflected poorly on President Barack Obama.

The republic managed to survive the awfulness.

Now? President Trump takes his cues from the dreadful morning program on Fox News. Or miscues. Like this one:

Actually, 113 of those prisoners were released by the administration of George W. Bush — a point that “Fox & Friends” didn’t specify in a discussion of the matter.

The reliance of the president on “Fox & Friends,” already well established, took on a bit more menace this morning, as he tweeted this:

That tweet appears to derive from a “Fox & Friends” moment from Monday morning, in which a news-reader said this: “Remember when James Comey testified the material he leaked to a friend was not classified? … Well, it turns out he actually may have broken the rules. A brand-new bombshell report accuses Comey of putting our national security at risk. According to The Hill, the former FBI director’s personal memos, detailing private conversations with President Trump, contained top secret information,” said the report.

After hearing that tidbit, co-host Steve Doocy unfurled a literal whoa-if-true comment: “If it’s true, Comey broke the same security protocol that he criticized Hillary Clinton for. … Whoa! Blockbuster!” he said.

“Fox & Friends” tweeted this:

Not so fast. The Hill reported that “More than half of the memos former FBI Director James Comey wrote as personal recollections of his conversations with President Trump about the Russia investigation have been determined to contain classified information,” a report that rests on accounts from “officials.” Those memos were the stars of a spring news plume: Following his firing by Trump, Comey testified before the Senate that he’d passed along one of those memos to a friend — a Columbia University professor — with the objective of leaking it to the news media.

The notion that Comey was a leaker — well, that set off a round of recriminations among pro-Trump media outlets. How could a guy who’d run the FBI be guilty of a leak? The former director himself thought the disclosure of the memo would prompt the appointment of a special counsel.

Yet as The Washington Post’s Philip Bump points out, there were seven Comey memos, four of which were identified as “secret” or “confidential.” The memo that Comey passed along for news-media consumption wasn’t among this crowd. “If there was classified information in the memo that Comey asked his friend to leak to the Times, that’s not yet been reported,” notes Bump.

Sure it has!

We’ve asked Fox News if it has any comment about this matter and have not heard back.

Later in the program, newly hired contributor Jason Chaffetz, the former congressman from Utah, helped to clarify matters. “It all pivots on whether the information he gave to that professor was classified or not classified,” said Chaffetz. “Fox & Friends” tweeted out a clip of Chaffetz chatting with the co-hosts about his work with Comey:

Again, “Fox & Friends” and Trump prove what a noxious combination they’ve become. The former churns out questionable information or mere pro-Trump cheerleading, and the latter amplifies it. Thus far, this symbiosis has clarified just what “Fox & Friends” is — a propaganda mill — and the type of media coverage the president fancies — straight-up sycophancy. The relationship, however, contains the makings of an eventual disaster, the outlines of which we can’t begin to fathom. Who, after all, knows how Trump will interpret the next slanted report from the program? How will he further distort its garbage? And what will be the implications?

‘Fox & Friends’ propagates the most astounding piece of pro-Trump propaganda yet

We’ve already seen the damage that can be done by Fox News in the Trump era. In March, White House press secretary Sean Spicer approvingly cited a report by Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano indicating Obama had leaned on British intelligence agency GCHQ to spy on Trump. British officialdom decried and denied the report, causing an international incident and forcing a temporary disappearance by Napolitano from Fox News airwaves.

Left to its own devices, “Fox & Friends” could do far more damage, unless it’s killed.