The Fox News Channel was, without question, the one major media outlet in the 2016 election to provide generally fair and balanced coverage of then-candidate, now-President Donald Trump, a unique position that earned the network praise from Trump and his supporters, but also accusations of favoritism launched by left-leaning competitors.
But there has been something of a subtle shift at Fox News over the past year or so that has not escaped the attention of many viewers, including Trump himself — a shift that has led to noticeably more negative coverage in terms of polling, punditry and story selection.
“There’s something going on at Fox”
The Washington Examiner reported that President Trump made his thoughts known on the “change” that has been occurring at Fox News while speaking with reporters before returning to the White House Sunday following a week at his resort in New Jersey.
Asked about a recent Fox News poll that showed him at 43% voter support and losing to all of the top Democratic candidates in hypothetical match-ups, Trump replied, “Well, Fox has always given me — I’ll tell you, Fox is a lot different than it used to be, I can tell you that.”
The president called out two liberal pundits on the network in particular — Juan Williams and Donna Brazile — and said, “Juan Williams. Then they have the wonderful woman that gave Hillary Clinton the questions. That was a terrible thing. And all of a sudden, she’s working for Fox. What’s she doing working for Fox?”
“Fox has changed. And my worst polls have always been from Fox. There’s something going on at Fox, I’ll tell you right now. And I’m not happy with it,” Trump reiterated.
“I think Fox is making a big mistake”
Asked to be more specific about what, in his view, had changed at Fox, the president said, “I don’t know what’s happening with Fox.” He then proceeded to share how Williams, who expresses his deep opposition to Trump on a daily basis, had kindly asked to pose for pictures together when Trump visited the Fox News building.
Trump was asked if the Murdoch family, who owns Fox News, should make any changes to the management or talent, but Trump said, “No. No. They have to run it the way they want to run it. But Fox is different. There’s no question about it.”
“And I think they’re making a big mistake because Fox was treated very badly by the Democrats — very, very badly — having to do with the debates and other things. And I think Fox is making a big mistake,” he added. “Because, you know, I’m the one that calls the shots on that — on the really big debates. I guess we’re probably planning on three of them.”
To be sure, there are still those at Fox News who provide fair and positive coverage that the president likes, and he didn’t hesitate to name them — Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, Jesse Watters, Judge Jeanine, and Greg Gutfeld.
That said, while the opinion side of Fox tends to supportive of the president, that has been less true in recent months on the straight news side of the equation and certainly in terms of the punditry, where there has been a decided and noticeable creep toward the left in both coverage and tone.
While it is certainly within Fox’s purview to make such an adjustment, it is also well within the rights of the president and his supporters to call out that leftward drift for what it is.