During the first hour of MSNBC's Morning Joe on Monday, the hosts brought on Jane Mayer of The New Yorker to talk about her latest article "The Making of the Fox News White House." Mayer's article of nearly 11,500 words provided the morning show a chance to take some swings at their competitor.
Co-host Mika Brzezinski asked Mayer to describe the relationship between Fox and the White House because, "A lot of people consider Fox News at sometimes to be Trump TV, to be propaganda. Having said that, there are some great journalists there." Responding to Fox's opinion-reporter balance, Mayer stated that the opinion hosts in the mornings and evenings throw up roadblocks for the "great reporters" at Fox, but due to opinion hosts taking up "major hours" in the schedule that "according to a number of critics" amounts to the "closest we've ever had to state news in this country."
Well, if critics, who never liked Fox well before Trump became President, say so, it must be true.
Mayer cited former FNC President Bill Shine becoming head of White House communications as what motivated her take a look at the White House-FNC relationship. The so-called "revolving door" has been an issue for sometime, but Mayer didn't write an over 11,000 word exposé on George Stephanopoulos, or the fact that the President of CBS was the brother of Obama's deputy national security advisor, or ABC News President Ben Sherwood's sister being an Obama foreign policy staffer, or MSNBC's Al Sharpton having a close relationship with President Obama. Not to mention all of MSNBC's morning and evening opinion shows, Morning Joe included.
Speaking of Obama, Mayer wrote in her article that, "Fox's hostility toward the Obama Administration grew increasingly extreme," especially over "the Benghazi debacle," but seemed to accept the idea that, "During the Obama years, Fox's attacks on the President could be seen as reflecting the adversarial role traditionally played by the press." Why it was left to Fox to play that role during the Obama years was not something Mayer addressed.
Later in the segment, Mike Barnicle asked Mayer what role Fox has had in creating the current state of political discourse. He quoted the article, "Fox is not just taking the temperature of the base, it is raising the temperature." Mayer accused Fox of making its "money by enraging Americans. That's how they keep them glued to the television set." Mayer asserted that the "rage-based model" is similar to Trump's and that they both are having "a huge effect on our national politics."
Fox has its share of opinion hosts who defend the President, sometimes in over-the-top ways, but what Mayer and Morning Joe missed was that they engage in similar rhetoric. Morning Joe has never passed an opportunity to call Trump a racist or compare the current state of Trump's America to Germany in 1933. If Fox's opinion hosts claim that everything good in the world is because of Trump and everything bad is due to his opponents, MSNBC and Morning Joe have the inverse opinion.
Here is a transcript for the March 4 show:
6:42 AM ET
MIKA BREZEZINSKI: How would you describe the relationship? A lot of people consider Fox News at sometimes to be Trump TV, to be propaganda. Having said that, there's some great journalists there.
JANE MAYER: There's some great reporters for Fox News, that's absolutely true. But what there also are a roadblock every night of hosts that do opinion shows and every morning that take up the major hours on Fox that are a platform, a soft ball platform for President Trump and he works it big time. What you've got there is according to a number of critics the closest we've of had to state news in this country.
What I was looking at was Bill Shine, who used to be the President of Fox News, is now the head of communications in the Trump White House and I sort of thought, “That's interesting, let’s go back and take a look at this relationship.” If you lift the lid layer from the layer from the bottom all the way up to the owner of 21st Century Fox, the chairman, Rupert Murdoch, there's a symbiotic relationship here.
MIKE BARNICLE: Jane, as usual, an extraordinary piece from you in The New Yorker this week. One of the things altering Presidency that we're living through is the role in Fox TV in the Presidency and thus on the nation and one of the people that you interviewed in talking about it said that, “Fox is not just taking the temperature of the base, it is raising the temperature,” could you speak to that? We all live through it in talking to ordinary people through the course of our days.
MAYER: I think it's incredibly important so thanks for asking. What Fox does is it makes money by enraging Americans. That's how they keep them glued to the television set. And it's very much the same model that Trump has to keep his base engaged. So you've got a rage-based model for both of them and what it’s doing is it's spinning the country in an increasingly inflamed direction and so it has a huge effect on our national politics.