The New York Times’ obsessive contempt for Fox News boiled over in its hysterical coverage in Thursday’s edition of Trump’s comments in the aftermath of Charlottesville.
Jonah Engel Bromwich’s brief piece on a tweet from the media’s preferred president managed to lump neo-Nazis and Fox News fans together: “A Charlottesville Tweet by Obama Is the Most Liked of All Time.”
Barack Obama’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Va., became the most-liked tweet in Twitter’s history Tuesday night, according to representatives for the social media platform.
The former president’s tweet, sent out Saturday evening, paired a quote from Nelson Mandela’s 1994 autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” with a picture of Mr. Obama smiling up at a diverse group of young children.
Bromwich penned a credulous story on the dubious incident last December of two stunt video hoaxers (fakes on a plane)supposedly removed from a Delta Airlines flight for speaking Arabic on a cellphone. On Thursday, he carelessly lumped in Fox News watchers with white supremacists while comparing President Trump unfavorably to Obama.
His tweet provided a contrast to President Trump’s equivocal responses to the protests in Charlottesville. The protests developed out of a rally organized by white nationalists and resulted in the death of one counterprotester. Mr. Trump, in his early response to the episode, condemned the violence on “many sides.”
Mr. Obama’s tweet passed Ms. Grande’s on the same day that Mr. Trump repeated his criticism of “both sides” in Charlottesville in an impromptu question-and-answer session. His remarks stunned many politicians, media personalities and even members of his own staff. But they prompted cheers from his supporters on Fox News, as well as the prominent white supremacists David Duke and Richard Spencer.
Times media reporter Michael Grynbaum had fun reporting Fox host Eboni Williams’ criticism of Trump: “A Fox News Host Criticizes Trump, and Some Viewers Bristle.” The text box: “A dissenting voice in a usually safe space for the president.”
Fox News, television’s equivalent of a presidential safe space, kept up its steadfast defense of President Trump even as he faced an uproar this week over his response to the violence at a white supremacist rally in Virginia last Saturday. Anchors like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson praised the president and lauded his bare-knuckle criticism of the news media.
Those are nervy words from Grynbaum, who previously attacked fellow journalist Matt Lauer for not providing a sufficiently safe space for Hillary Clinton during a tough interview, and whose own newspaper provided eight years of protection for President Obama, constantly calling his opponents far-right and racially motivated.
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But notably, some pundits broke ranks. Eboni K. Williams, a host of the 5 p.m. show “The Specialists,” derided Mr. Trump in exceptionally blunt terms, calling his initial remarks about the rally “cowardly and dangerous” and accusing the president of minimizing “blatant, flagrant hatred” rather than risk roiling a portion of his base.
It was the kind of unvarnished criticism that Fox News usually outsources to liberal guests — and Ms. Williams, who is African-American, said that her words had come with a price.
In the days since her segment aired, Ms. Williams said she had received nearly 150 menacing messages from people who denounced her remarks and called her a traitor, a racist, a “disgrace,” and anti-American. Some of the messages, she said, implied an intent to harm, and she said she requested and received a security escort from Fox News.
Not every viewer has been pleased. “I couldn’t get to the remote soon enough” to change the channel, one Twitter user wrote on Wednesday, after Ms. Williams again criticized Mr. Trump on the air. Another wrote: “I wonder if @FoxNews now regrets the divisive hateful words spewed out of the nasty mouth” of Ms. Williams.
Mr. Hannity and other anchors, including the morning show hosts on “Fox & Friends,” rarely question the president, and several of them recently dined with Mr. Trump at the White House. Rupert Murdoch, Fox News’s executive chairman, is a regular adviser to Mr. Trump, even counseling him on the fate of Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist.
After leading with the “safe space” crack, Grynbaum admitted later:
But Mr. Trump has his critics on Fox News. Juan Williams regularly battles with his pro-Trump co-hosts on the prime-time show “The Five.” The daytime news anchor Shepard Smith can offer up tough criticism. “So far we’ve been unable to find the very fine people protesting with the white supremacists,” he said sarcastically on Wednesday’s broadcast, referring to Mr. Trump’s assertion that “very fine people” were among the demonstrators in Charlottesville.
Ms. Williams, a lawyer who formerly worked at CBS News, said in the interview Wednesday that her superiors at Fox News had not expressed concern.
“I’ll tell you the truth, if they had said anything, it would have shocked me,” she said. “I’m no puppet for the network. I call Fox as I see Fox. And for me it’s been a positive experience. It’s not been a perfect experience, but I’m there because the good outweighs the bad.”