The host later added: “It is called being fair and balanced, Mr. President, yet it is fair to say you’re not a fan when that balance includes stuff you don’t like to hear or facts you don’t like to have questioned.”
Cavuto’s pointed comments come on the heels of Trump’s latest broadside against Fox News. Despite the network’s reputation for favorable coverage of the president and his administration, with critics going so far as to describe it as “state TV,” Fox News has increasingly become a target of Trump’s rage. The president slammed the network in tweets this week for “heavily promoting the Democrats,” adding, “We have to start looking for a new News Outlet. Fox isn’t working for us anymore!” The tirade appeared to be sparked by Fox News anchor Sandra Smith interviewing Xochitl Hinojosa, the communications director for the Democratic National Committee, and soon prompted criticism from a handful of people associated with the network.
On Thursday, Cavuto joined in, addressing Trump directly in a roughly four-minute segment that has since been viewed more than 170,000 times across Twitter and YouTube.
Cavuto, who has slammed Trump on his show before, kicked off his monologue by playing a clip of the president calling into a Fox News Radio program earlier in the day and expressing that he was “not happy” with the network. In recent months, Trump has gone after several Fox News personalities including host Shepard Smith, left-leaning pundit Juan Williams and contributor Donna Brazile, former chair of the Democratic National Committee.
“All right, well, I think the president watches Fox,” Cavuto remarked. “I also think he is getting sick of Fox, which is weird, because I think he gets pretty fair coverage at Fox.”
In 2017, a Harvard report analyzing the president’s first 100 days in office found that the network was “the only news outlet in our study that came close to giving Trump positive coverage overall — the split was 52 percent negative to 48 percent positive.”
Cavuto noted, however, that the president had made it “clear to fact-check him is to be all but dead to him and his legion of supporters who let me know, in no uncertain terms, I am either with him totally or I am a ‘Never Trumper’ fully.”
Perhaps, the host said, it was this “Loyal on everything or not to be trusted on anything” mentality that prompted the president to once again bash Fox News on Wednesday and urge his supporters to stop watching the channel. Interpreting the president’s criticism as a suggestion that Fox News had been operating as an extension of his administration and reelection campaign, Cavuto, like other network personalities, pushed back against the notion. Trump’s tweet also drew critical responses from Fox News political analyst Brit Hume and on-air personalities Guy Benson and Howard Kurtz.
“My job, Mr. President, our job here, is to keep the scores, not settle the scores,” Cavuto said Thursday, before launching into a description of his responsibility to report on the economy and trade talks regardless of whether the news is good or bad.
Then, Cavuto turned his attention to what he believed to be Trump’s biggest gripe with the media: getting fact-checked.
“You’re only human, I get that. Who likes to be corrected?” the host said. “But you are the president. It comes with the job, just like checking what you say and do comes with my job.”
To prove his point, Cavuto began listing instances in which Trump made false or misleading statements (more than 12,000 during his presidency, according to the Fact Checker database), ranging from claims that Russia didn’t interfere in the 2016 election to denying that he paid off adult-film actress Stormy Daniels. While the Fact Checker generally avoids characterizing Trump’s falsehoods as “lies,” Trump’s statements about the hush-money payment made to Daniels earned the rare label.
These moments that have been reported on aren’t fake, Cavuto said, addressing Trump, “They’re real items, and you really said them.”
“Fake is when it’s wrong, Mr. President, not when it’s unpleasant,” he added.
But, Cavuto conceded that Trump was right to complain that the media, which can be “more inclined to report the bad than anything good,” hasn’t been fair to him.
“It is no surprise you’re frustrated that more aren’t in line with you and that everyone at Fox might not be in lockstep with you,” said Cavuto, before clarifying that even if there are Fox News hosts who defend Trump, it doesn’t mean that they work for him.
“Hard as it is to fathom, Mr. President, just because you’re the leader of the free world doesn’t entitle you to a free pass,” Cavuto concluded. “Unfortunately, just a free press.”
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