I think it's fair to say that undercurrents of dissent at Fox News have bloomed into internecine warfare between the straight news division and the nightside lineup of opinion-based Trump fluffers.
During a break in the Barr testimony Wednesday, Chris Wallace threw the gauntlet.
“I know there are some people who don’t think this March 27 letter is a big deal,” Wallace began. “And some opinion people, some opinion people who appear on this network, who may be pushing a political agenda."
Let's just call them out by name: Laura Ingraham, Lou Dobbs, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity. Their purpose is to fluff Trump and keep the viewers angry, facts be damned.
"But, you know, we have to deal in facts," he continued, rebuking those same people. "And the fact is that this letter from the special counsel … was a clear indication that [Robert Mueller] was upset, very upset, with the letter that had been sent out by the attorney general, and wanted it changed, or wanted it at least added to.”
Wallace jabbed a little harder. “There are a lot of people having read now the full report, or as much as it has been not redacted, agree that he didn’t reveal what was fully in the report. Again, those aren’t opinions. That’s not a political agenda. Those are the facts.”
Gabe Sherman wrote:
Inside Fox, a long-running cold war between the network's journalists and right-wing, prime-time hosts has turned hot. Fox journalists, bristling at being branded an arm of the Trump White House, are lobbying Fox News C.E.O. Suzanne Scott and president Jay Wallace to rein in Fox & Friends, Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, and Jeanine Pirro. “Reporters are telling management that we're being defined by the worst people on our air,” a frustrated senior Fox staffer told me last month. News staffers are feeling emboldened to go after Trump in increasingly visible ways. Fox's opinion hosts, meanwhile, have made the case that the prime-time lineup not only reflects the audience's worldview but is responsible for the majority of the network's advertising revenue and fees paid by cable companies that carry Fox. “We make the money,” an anchor close to Hannity told me.
Wallace may have fired the first shot across the bow, but the opinionators aren't staying quiet:
UPDATE: Yeah, it's war. Laura Ingraham called into Shep Smith's show to toss a hissy:
Later in the broadcast, Ingraham called in and described the Mueller letter as a “non-story” while openly bashing her colleague.
“The idea that Bill Barr set about to fundamentally distort and misrepresent a 448-page report that he knew would be almost in its entirety released except for redactions that were agreed upon; the idea he would set about to do that to what, ruin his entire career and be roundly ridiculed, is preposterous,” she declared.
Ingraham continued: “Now, I know Chris Wallace at the top of your hour was indicating that I guess that he kind of agrees with these other cable networks that this was an attempt by the DOJ to spin what the conversation was between Barr and Mueller. So I don’t know if Chris Wallace has information that I don’t have, but that he is saying that Barr is perpetuating a lie about this conversation between him and Mueller?”