John Avlon, editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast, neatly summed up how Fox News both helped and was hurt by Donald Trump’s candidacy: “This is what happens when you try to get in the business where you appease people—you appease the crocodile, hoping it eats you last.”
Avlon appeared on Reliable Sources yesterday in a show devoted to “the disconnect” between journalists and Donald Trump’s presidential run. "What did the press get wrong and why?" host Brian Stelter asked.
The “Trump phenomenon didn’t come out of nowhere,” Avlon argued. He cited “the polarization of the Republican Party and the appearance of a celebrity demagogue.”
While Trump couldn’t have been predicted, Avlon continued, “There are deeper trends that have led to this moment,” which is something that should have been covered for a long time.
One of those “deeper trends” is the toxic media environment at least partially created by Fox News.
BRIAN STELTER (HOST): FOX News was vehemently against Obama, as it has been since day one.
And conservative media in general has taken a very anti-Obama position. Now, the president has recently argued that that contributed to the rise of Trump. He argued that by creating this sort of environment that was very toxic, that it created an atmosphere and an environment for Trump to thrive. Do you believe that’s true?
AVLON: I absolutely believe that’s true.
You see it right now even in the divide within FOX News, where Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier, the journalists over there, are constantly trying to defend each other from Trump’s attacks, while the opinion anchors on the other side are busy giving him sort of backrubs on national TV.
This is what happens when you try to get in the business where you appease people—you appease the crocodile, hoping it eats you last. That’s what happened in the Republican Party right now. And the state of conservative media is a reflection of that as well.
I think this is right on point except for one thing. Megyn Kelly may not be the kind of opinion host that Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity are but let’s not forget she was giving Trump backrubs, too, until he started attacking her.
Watch Avlon below, on CNN's Reliable Sources, from the March 27 show.
So now Donald Trump is a surprise to who exactly?
Once “South Park” got away with the “s-word”* (referring to excrement, in a non-biological sense), other cable network programming—live-action and animation—have peppered their dialogue with the word so much, it’s actually a bit shocking (especially when Carlin’s other infamous “dirty words” are still routinely bleeped or “worked around”—especially the “f-word”).
*The episode “It Hits the Fan,” first aired in 2001. (I did a search to remind myself of the episode title and was actually surprised it’s been that long ago. I know shows like the animated “Archer” and live-action “American Horror Story” and “The Americans” have dropped the “s-word” in the scripts, usually the same way that most people do in real life—just occasionally, in certain situations—but almost never let the “f-word” out in any form or fashion.)