“Fox & Friends” suggested without evidence Monday the New York Times sat for six months on last week's report that President Trump tried to fire special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in June 2017.
According to Trump's favorite morning show, the media routinely times major stories to inflict maximum damage on the president. This conspiracy theory holds that the Mueller scoop was meant to detract from Trump's participation in the World Economic Forum in Davos. The theory also holds that the press will drop another bomb this week to take away from Trump's sure-to-be-stellar State of the Union address.
“It's just so anti-American,” said “Fox & Friends” host Ainsley Earhardt. “I mean, it's just — where's the unity?”
In a statement, the New York Times said: “We published the story as soon as our reporters were able to confirm the facts. 'Fox & Friends' should try it sometime.”
Last Friday, even after Fox News chief national correspondent Ed Henry confirmed the Times report about Trump's attempt to fire Mueller, “Fox & Friends” disregarded its own network's journalism and told viewers the Times article merely contained “some new details that may or may not actually be true.”
On Monday, “Fox & Friends” veered into authoritarianism, effectively telling viewers journalism is the enemy, reporting on the president's use — or possible abuse — of power is anti-American, and reporters should cheer the president in the name of national unity.
Here is an excerpt from Monday's telecast, in which Earhardt and co-hosts Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy interviewed former White House press secretary Sean Spicer:
KILMEADE: Sean, if the [State of the Union] speech does go over well, like Davos went over well, the Polish speech went over well, isn't it amazing the timing? Something comes up about the Russia investigation like, for example, a story that could have broken in June comes out in January after the president goes to Davos and is treated like a rock star.
SPICER: You know, all these outlets have those little countdown clocks. After the president leaves the rostrum tomorrow night in the House of Representatives, you might as well put a countdown clock from 72 hours out because somebody will dig something up from when he was, like, 8 years old about how he didn't clean his tray, and try to take away the momentum from another great speech.
DOOCY: Well, that's what they've done in the past. It's a formula that's worked.
SPICER: I mean it's a pattern.
EARHARDT: It's just so anti-American. I mean, it's just — where's the unity?
On the day after Trump's first address to a joint session of Congress, last year, The Washington Post reported Attorney General Jeff Sessions failed to disclose during his confirmation hearing that he met twice during the presidential campaign with Russia's ambassador to the United States.
Reporters Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller wrote, rather presciently, “the previously undisclosed discussions could fuel new congressional calls for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia's alleged role in the 2016 presidential election.”
One day later, Sessions recused himself from the federal law-enforcement investigation of Russian election meddling and possible coordination with the Trump campaign — a decision the president has publicly complained about. In May, Sessions's deputy, Rod J. Rosenstein, appointed Mueller as special counsel.
By any measure, the unfavorable reporting that followed Trump's first address to Congress was highly significant. “Fox & Friends” is trying to convince viewers, before Trump delivers his second address to Congress, that such reporting is just part of an anti-American media plot to take down the president.