Media critic

The way Fox News host Shannon Bream tells it, someone wearing a mask “insisted” on standing behind her as she went about her business at the network’s impromptu set outside the Supreme Court on Monday night. The idea was to anchor an entire hour of the 11 p.m. program “Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream” amid the protesters following President Trump’s announcement of Brett Kavanaugh as his choice for the Supreme Court.

It didn’t work out so well. Bream tweeted to her followers:

Bream later told Fox News viewers, “It got so volatile at points that we ultimately didn’t feel like it would be safe to do an hour of live television out there.” Two Fox News executives visited the site in reaching this evaluation. So they grabbed their stuff and did “Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream” from the Fox News studio just a few blocks away.

Folks who responded to Bream’s tweet worried about her safety. “There are no boundaries the #progressives will not cross. It’s only a matter of time before someone is hurt badly by them. Be safe out there … take a bodyguard with you when you are covering events like that. #SCOTUSNomination,” was one typical reply. Many of them sounded as if they’d been watching their share of another Fox News program: “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” Following the news that a restaurant in Lexington, Va., had politely asked White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave — along with Rep. Maxine Waters’s (D-Calif.) call for forming crowds to protest members of Trump’s administration — Carlson railed, “Activists on the left are moving toward violence. They are aware of this and some applaud it.”

In a chat with fellow Fox News host Laura Ingraham, Bream, who has years of experience covering the Supreme Court, noted that the crew didn’t benefit from the sorts of barricades that sometimes shield news crews from onlookers at such events. “And so, yeah, people were pushing up on us, they were getting behind us, they were screaming at us any time they thought we were going live,” she said.

Another network Supreme Court reporter told the Erik Wemple Blog in an email, “I did see some scuffles between protestors but I never personally felt threatened. It was a sizable protest akin to those following big decisions.”

At a protest against Trump’s Supreme Court choice, however, other network reporters might not attract the attention of a Fox News encampment. “They weren’t Fox fans, I think that’s fair to say,” Bream told Ingraham of the people hemming in the Fox News set. “But it was just a very, it was a very emotional crowd and I get that. I completely understand where they’re coming from. They’re not happy about this pick, they feel threatened by what the president is doing in their estimation. So they were very emotional and very vocal and very pushy last night.”

Such emotions may stem from the fact that: Fox News harbors the Trump White House’s so-called “shadow chief of staff” Sean Hannity, who did a video promotion for candidate Trump, among many other helpful gestures; Fox News runs a morning program that sets the thematic table every day for the White House’s view of the world; Fox News’s prime-time lineup is an experiment in how to do Trump’s bidding in three distinct polemical styles. And this wasn’t the first time, of course, that lefties deployed their vocal cords against Fox News types.

Whatever the explanation for the vocal-ness, let Fox News broadcast in peace. Better to critique its content after the fact than to attempt to stifle it. Still, despite the alleged volatility of the situation on Monday night, there were no arrests on the scene, according to Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg: “The Supreme Court Police had an increased presence in the area and, although the crowd was large and included protesters and some counter-protesters, there were no arrests. The activity was confined to the public sidewalk and street (the U.S. Capitol Police shut down First Street for about 90 minutes due to the number of people). The Court’s Chief of Police was here last evening and assigned an officer to keep an eye on the area where media outlets were set up because of the large crowd.” A spokeswoman with the U.S. Capitol Police also told us: No arrests.

“No one is screaming at us, ‘I’m going to kill you.’ It’s not that kind of situation, but you just have a lot of uncertainty about which way the crowd’s going to go,” said Bream.

The Erik Wemple Blog has asked Fox News whether it sent a correspondent to chronicle the possibly confrontational scene after Bream’s crew left. We are awaiting a response. A Fox News spokesperson said that the network continued to cover the protest by monitoring live feeds from the Washington bureau.