The close relationship between the Fox News network and the Trump administration is no surprise, but new emails reveal the extent of the coordination between the two. Fox coordinated its interviews with former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt with the EPA’s press team, according to the emails.
As The Daily Beast reported on Tuesday, Pruitt’s team would choose the interview topics, and Pruitt would know the questions in advance. In one instance, his team even approved part of Fox & Friends‘ script.
While it’s common for television producers to discuss topics in advance with interview subjects, allowing them to dictate the questions, topics, and scripts is a big taboo in the news industry.
In a statement provided to ThinkProgress from a Fox News Channel spokesperson commenting on the emails, they said, “This is not standard practice whatsoever and the matter is being addressed internally with those involved.”
According to emails obtained by the Sierra Club through Freedom of Information requests and shared with The Daily Beast, the EPA’s press team would contact Fox when Pruitt wanted to appear on the show to discuss an issue.
In one instance, following an exchange last May between Fox and then-EPA press secretary Amy Graham, one of the show’s producer, Diana Aloi, repeatedly asked for “talking points” and the top priorities that Pruitt wanted to talk about.
Upon receiving the information, Aloi then “sought the government official’s approval for the script introducing Pruitt’s segment,” The Daily Beast wrote.
Since the beginning of Pruitt’s time at the EPA, emails show that his team worked hard to court various people at Fox — including having off-the-record lunches and even offering Sean Hannity the opportunity to fly in a private jet with Pruitt to Oklahoma, where they’d meet a rural family and discuss the previous Obama administration’s water policy. Hannity declined the offer.
The close relationship between the EPA and Fox News eroded near the end of Pruitt’s term, which was riddled with scandals.
During an April interview with Fox News reporter Ed Henry, Pruitt appeared blindsided by tough questions and fumbled over answers about giving significant pay raises to staff members. Later that month, a Fox News host even called on President Donald Trump to fire Pruitt.
And after a mother confronted Pruitt in a restaurant days before his resignation, the network didn’t even come to his defense.
Update: This article was updated to include a comment provided to ThinkProgress from Fox News.