“Fox & Friends” — and many, many other Fox News programs — dedicated significant portions of its 2016 presidential campaign coverage to a question that seemed at the center of our faith in our republic:
Did Hillary Clinton’s rule-breaking use of private email to conduct government business render her unfit to serve in the topmost levels of the federal government?
There was analysis about “operational intel” in the emails that could put U.S. citizens at risk. A question-and-answer segment focused on whether a hypothetical President Hillary Clinton could pardon herself. At one point, Judge Jeanine Pirro demonstrated what it would be like to smash two BlackBerrys with a hammer.
So when news broke Monday that the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump was embroiled in a similar issue — only with some names and political parties switched around — it was a chance for “Fox & Friends” to dive into its deep repository of information about the ethical and political implications of private email use.
The segment lasted 25 seconds.
The information was one of several news tidbits relayed to viewers of “Fox & Friends” by Jillian Mele, an early-morning host, and focused on Ivanka Trump’s lawyer “slamming a report.”
“The Washington Post claims the White House adviser may have violated federal rules by using her personal account to communicate with officials,” Mele read, echoing language that had been read on other Fox News shows. “A spokesperson for Trump’s lawyer tells Fox News, quote, there was never classified information transmitted; the account was never transferred or housed at Trump Organization; no email was ever deleted.”
Media observers were quick to point out the irony.
“I mean, this seems pretty light in comparison to the Fox News outrage over Hillary’s private email, but I’m sure that they will start to spew similar amounts of bile that they spewed over the Clinton email, right?” Colby Hall wrote in an opinion piece for Mediaite. “If they didn’t, they’d look ridiculous, right?”
As The Washington Post’s Carol D. Leonnig and Josh Dawsey reported Monday, Ivanka Trump sent hundreds of emails to Cabinet officials, White House aides and assistants using a private account, which violated rules about federal records.
According to Leonnig and Dawsey, shortly after then-candidate Donald Trump blasted Clinton on the campaign trail, his daughter used her personal account for “much of 2017” with Jared Kushner, her husband and fellow White House adviser. She sent hundreds of emails from the account.
“The discovery alarmed some advisers to President Trump, who feared that his daughter’s practices bore similarities to the personal email use of Hillary Clinton, an issue he made a focus of his 2016 campaign,” Leonnig and Dawsey wrote. “He attacked his Democratic challenger as untrustworthy and dubbed her ‘Crooked Hillary’ for using a personal email account as secretary of state.”
Ivanka Trump’s use of the private account was unearthed by White House ethics officials responding to a public records lawsuit.
People close to Ivanka Trump told Leonnig and Dawsey that she wasn’t trying to hide her government work and was unaware she was breaking email rules. Such use of email could violate the Presidential Records Act, which requires official White House communications be preserved. It’s also a security and potential risk. The House Oversight Committee plans to investigate.
Fox News has faced criticism from those who have claimed the network serves as a mouthpiece for the Trump administration.
On the day before Election Day, for example, Fox News host Sean Hannity joined President Trump at a rally in Cape Girardeau, Mo. The campaign had described Hannity as a “special guest.” Hannity maintained on Twitter that he was covering the rally for his show, not campaigning with the president.
Judge Jeanine, the smasher of BlackBerrys, was also present and was singled out by Trump.
She “treats us very, very well,” Trump told the audience. “She’s my friend, and she’s your friend.”