Two campaign advisers, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, were indicted on Monday on a variety of serious crimes, and we learned that a third pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. If you’ve spent the day watching Fox News, however, you might not be familiar with the details.
Fox News has spent most of Monday downplaying the significance of the legal action — or avoiding the topic all together.
As news of Manafort’s surrender to federal authorities broke just ahead of 8:30 a.m. on the east coast, Fox & Friends was discussing an economist’s finding that Americans are insufficiently patriotic.
Meanwhile, Fox News: pic.twitter.com/6zLs3T1QrB
— Jeremy Diamond (@JDiamond1) October 30, 2017
Around that same time, the show showcased a discussion about Halloween candy.
Fox News right now pic.twitter.com/DK8KyDpoW5
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) October 30, 2017
Another portion of the show covered millennials allegedly ruining Halloween.
As the other two major news networks began live coverage of Manafort’s indictment, Fox & Friends hosts turned their attention to an alleged “emoji cheeseburger crisis at Google.”
Paul Manafort just agreed to turn himself in to the FBI. What should we report on?
Fox News: Hamburger emoji pic.twitter.com/Wjsvkb2coW
— Roberto Ferdman (@robferdman) October 30, 2017
Fox & Friends did feature an interview with White House counselor Kellyanne Conway that addressed the Manafort news. But Conway, echoing her boss, argued that the real Russia scandal implicates Hillary Clinton, not Trump. (Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made the same case during Monday’s White House news briefing.)
After that, the final minutes of Trump’s favorite show were devoted to discussing a Newsweek op-ed exploring the connection between “conservative loudmouths” and Irish-American heritage.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) October 30, 2017
When the network finally did get around to covering Manafort, it sought to minimize the story and shift attention to Democrats. Outnumbered tried to create a favorable distraction for Trump by scandal-mongering about Hillary Clinton and the DNC’s relationship with a political research firm that put together the so-called Steele dossier exploring the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia.
Fox News is still doing this, huh? pic.twitter.com/s5goMYvVbW
— jordan ghoul 👻☠️🎃 (@JordanUhl) October 30, 2017
A bit later, another Fox News segment went directly after Mueller, suggesting that his personal relationship with former FBI Director James Comey means he has a conflict of interest when it comes to investigating Trump.
Fox News is now running a segment targeting Robert Mueller. pic.twitter.com/sJSfOv9hF2
— Alexander Panetta (@Alex_Panetta) October 30, 2017
While it might be tempting to dismiss the Fox News as predictable propaganda, its programming is still having an impact with one very important viewer. On Twitter, President Trump — a frequent live-tweeter of Fox & Friends — dismissed the Manafort news using an argument that came directly from Fox News.
Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren't Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2017
As Media Matters details, the talking point about Manafort’s alleged wrongdoing occurring before his associating with the Trump came was brought up several times Monday’s edition of Fox & Friends.
“[C]o-host Steve Doocy commented that Manafort had ‘some suspicious wire transfers back in 2012, 2013, many years before he joined Trump,'” Media Matters writes. “Doocy later seemed to suggest the White House adopt the talking point that Trump eventually tweeted: ‘But ultimately, I would imagine the people in the White House are going to start talking later today about, ‘Well, if that’s all they’ve got, something — the guy who ran the campaign last year, something he did 5, 10 years earlier, we’re OK.””