Ignoring the liberal slant of virtually every other media outlet, New York Times media reporter Jeremy Peters singled out the Fox News morning show Fox and Friends for partisan slant: "Enemies And Allies For ‘Friends.’" Peters never questioned why Republican candidates may shun liberal media outlets like NBC.
When it comes to sitting for interviews Mitt Romney is not usually a willing and eager subject. But there is one invitation he rarely turns down.
“Fox & Friends” has had Mr. Romney as a guest 21 times in the last year. That’s almost twice a month, vastly more than the four times each he has appeared on NBC’s “Today” and ABC’s “Good Morning America,” which draw five times the audience.
Mr. Romney is hardly alone in recognizing the power of “Fox & Friends” as a high-decibel megaphone pointing directly at the Republican base. At the height of the primaries not a week went by without an appearance by one of the candidates. And when leading Republicans like Gov. Rick Scott of Florida or Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin have something to say, they do it on “Fox & Friends.”
It is easy to see why. Perhaps more than any other show on the Fox News Channel, “Fox & Friends” has become a powerful platform for some of the most strident attacks on President Obama. Conspiracy theories about Mr. Obama’s religion once found an uncritical ear on the show’s set. Assertions that Mr. Obama leaked national security secrets for political gain are accepted as fact. And its hosts recently took time on the air to congratulate one of their producers for making a four-minute video that painted Mr. Obama as a failure.
That incident points to the question that hangs over Fox News as the presidential campaign moves into full swing: How far can it push its coverage of Mr. Obama without sparking another war with the White House?
Peters skipped an anti-Romney video that aired on MSNBC's Hardball in February. He also treated conservative media themes in condescending fashion, ignoring how stories about how such topics as Occupy Wall Street were greeted with fawning coverage in the mainstream liberal press.
Mr. Shine noted that the show falls under the network’s entertainment umbrella and does not pretend to be straight news. There are visits from Hooters waitresses on the “Let Freedom Wing” U.S.O. tour, debates about whether parents who give children large allowances create entitlement societies, and outrage-filled segments on the killing of bald eagles. It is a place where Occupy Wall Street protesters bang drums instead of looking for jobs, Transportation Security Administration agents willingly violate grandmothers and toddlers, and the “War on Christmas” never stands at a cease-fire.
Critics of the show include not just Democrats and comedy outlets like “Saturday Night Live,” but reporters, producers and executives at Fox. Ask them what they think privately, and they will often roll their eyes and mention some embarrassing mishap, like the time Steve Doocy, one of three hosts, insisted in 2007 that the president was raised Muslim. The folksy Mr. Doocy is joined by Brian Kilmeade, a wisecracking soccer coach, and Gretchen Carlson, the often-severe and incredulous voice of authority. (Ms. Carlson’s childhood baby sitter in Minnesota was Representative Michele Bachmann.)
After all that abuse, it was rather jarring to be reminded that this apparently embarrassing product is somehow the clear leader in its time slot, not only among other news shows but for all basic cable shows:
“Fox & Friends” is one of the network’s most successful programs. Every weekday, starting at 6 a.m., an average of one million people tune in, far exceeding the combined audience of every other cable news show at the same time. And from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. it is the highest rated show on basic cable.
Peters is kinder to left-wing media outlets. His January 5, 2011 story on the struggles of the Manhattan-based Village Voice did not hint of its proud tradition of counter-cultural leftism, instead casting it as a brave "muckraking" publication.