Following the publication of Jane Mayer's excellent article about Fox News at The New Yorker last week, as we've already discussed here, much of the media is finally catching up to what many of us on the left have been saying for ages, that Fox is a dangerous propaganda arm of the Republican party, and now the Trump White House.
MSNBC's Joy Reid has been one of the better hosts on television in this regard, but her cohort from CNBC, John Harwood, was dead set on defending some of the people over at Fox as real journalists on her show this Sunday.
During what was primarily an excellent panel discussion about the relationship between the White House and Fox, Mayer's article, and the Democrats decision not to allow Fox to host any of their primary debates, Harwood came to the defense of Fox's Bret Baier, Martha MacCallum, and Chris Wallace, who, as host Joy Reid pointed out, sounded a whole lot more like his fellow Fox host Sean Hannity than some unbiased reporter, griping about the “far left wing” of the Democratic party being responsible for the DNC's decision not to allow Fox to host any of their debates.
REID: What do you make of the idea that if a news organization itself as a whole, at least according to Jane Mayer is an arm of the opposition, of the other party, that there is no way that debate can be fair, even in the questioners are great?
HARWOOD: Well, I think the debate itself could be fair because Chris Wallace, as Carol indicated, is an exceptionally good interviewer. Bret Baier is a very capable interviewer and so is Martha MacCallum .
I think the issue is not what the content of the debate itself would be. From the Democratic perspective, it's that they see Fox News, as Gabe has reported, as Jane Mayer has reported, as in essence and extension of the other party, the White House that they're trying to defeat, and so I think they don't want to lend authority to that voice.
You know the Republican party and Fox News have a common strategy which is to alarm and appeal to older white viewers and voters, and as that group shrinks, they, the Republican party and Fox are forced to try ever harder and harder to alarm them, which carries them further and further from a realistic discussion of the nation and its problems. And Fox, and the Democratic party has made the decision that they don't want to ratify in affirm of movement by Fox and by the Republican party.
REID: And first Gabe and then Kurt, if a debate were held on Fox News, would management in any way intercede to make sure that debate is as hard on the Democrats as possible?
SHERMAN: Well, clearly the moderators draft the questions, but this is something that is managed from the highest levels of the network's executives. So, I more agree with what John was just saying. I think the individual questions themselves may have been fair. I think the larger point is that Fox is not a legitimate news organization. It never was one. Roger Ailes spent his career as a Republican image maker before transitioning to television and he started Fox News to redress Republicans' long held grievances, to tilt the media in their favor.
And so Democrats are under no obligation to give a particular network a debate. It is a privilege to host a debate and I think this action is the Democratic party saying, until you start acting like a news organization, we are not going to treat you as such.
REID: And is there any change they're going to change the way that they do things? I mean, the Seth Rich conspiracy theory lived on what's supposed to be a news organization, Kurt Bardella, for quite a while.
BARDELLA: Well, we are seeing just how some of these personalities are reacting that nothing is going to change. I don't know how anyone can expect this would be a fair debate when the people Chris Wallace and Bret Baier answered to, the executives, the people who are cutting the checks, are talking to Donald Trump every day and are basically members of this administration.
The faces of Fox News, their primetime lineup, are the ones who act like when they go to Trump rallies, they're apart of the team. They're on stage. They're back stage. They're not where the media is roped off. They have a different proximity and a different access, and if Bret Baier and Chris Wallace want to do something, they should stand up and say this isn't okay. They need to take a stand and publicly say, day in and day out, what's happening at Fox, and the primetime lineup is not okay and they're opposed to it, that but they're not doing that.
After Harwood tried to defend his statement, saying that the hosts refusing to condemn their own network and employer is not the same as whether any of them are capable of hosting a fair debate, Bardella shot back:
BARDELLA: Well, sure they could, but the thing is if the game is rigged beforehand beforehand, that the campaign had the questions beforehand, there is an unfair advantage. It's just not a fair playing field.
They're a propaganda arm for the right, and Gabe Sherman was exactly right. They're not a news organization and the rest of the media needs to quit treating them as such.