After Donald Trump raged against Fox News host and Senior Vice President Neil Cavuto for daring to criticize him, Fox host Ed Henry failed to criticize Trump and guest Charlie Kirk outright defended him.
As we posted yesterday, Trump rage tweeted about Cavuto, his guest who had dared to criticize Trump and Fox board member Paul Ryan. Later, during a Colorado rally, Trump attacked Cavuto again, along with former Fox host Shepard Smith.
But Fox News host Ed Henry commented on the attacks on his colleagues in the most milquetoast-y way possible as he guest hosted The Story with Martha MacCallum last night. First, he described Trump as “having a little fun” at his rally when he attacked the media as “the worst people” because they report “two empty seats” as Trump not filling the arena.
In fact, there have been more than two empty seats at Trump rallies. But Henry immediately assured viewers that was not the case in Colorado. He included the implicit message that Fox News would not report any such reality, either. “We didn’t see a lot of empty seats as the crowd was panned,” Henry said. “8,000 capacity there. People, as we noted at the top of the show, waiting for many hours in the cold Colorado weather to see him.”
Then the panel discussion began. Henry began by sugarcoating Trump's ugliness with lickspittle Charlie Kirk.
HENRY: Charlie, he went off on a lot of tangents, what he likes on Fox, what he doesn't like on Fox, what he thought about the Democratic debates. A lot of tangents there, but he's firing up a crowd that seems to be eating it up.
KIRK: Yeah, no doubt, he seems to be in great spirits, and not to mention the thousands of people outside of the arena that it’s one of the largest overflows, I’ve been told, by the campaign that they’ve ever had. It’s almost twice as many people outside than inside.
Kirk gushed on, calling Trump “truly the winner of the [Democratic] debate last night” and, ironically, complaining the Democrats got “very, very nasty.”
It was the other guest, Democrat Richard Fowler who stood up for Cavuto unambiguously:
FOWLER: He spent the past 30 or so minutes trashing one of our colleagues, Neil Cavuto, for no reason in particular, and I think this is -- this speaks to the problem with this presidency.
He could run on the good economy and I’ll give him points for that, but to sit on -- to sit on this air and to trash a good journalist, it speaks to the problem that we have. You can't -- we can't tell our kids not to bully, we can't tell our kids to be nice to your neighbors, right? We can't tell our children to do unto others what you'd like to be done unto you when you have a president attacking a good man for no reason in particular, besides the fact that he criticized a particular policy position of his.
Henry finally go around to sticking up for Cavuto but he made a point of not criticizing Trump:
HENRY: Right, I'm not sure it was bullying, but I take your point. Neil Cavuto from the first day I walked in to the Fox News channel has always been an outstanding man, outstanding journalist, has always been supportive, and I want to make sure that I stand up for him as well. But in the meantime, Charlie, how do you respond to that? When you hear Richard saying why go off on this tangent for who knows how many minutes?
Kirk said, he had “two friends in that bout” and that since “Neil has been always great to me,” he would “kind of just stay out of that, and let that happen.”
But Kirk immediately followed up by slobbering over Trump’s “freewheeling, off-the-cuff, candid” leadership.
KIRK: I will say a lot of people are attracted to a freewheeling, off-the-cuff, candid leader, unscripted, not like the traditional political class of people that are always reading from a teleprompter and say one thing and do another.
There's a great appeal to it and I know that it's different from every other politician that we have seen but the results that he’s delivered for the country - and you see the crowds there, there is an entertainment faction of this, that all the sudden it's not just politics --
HENRY: No doubt.
Props to Fowler for interrupting and refusing to allow himself to be interrupted by Kirk.
FOWLER: This is where I’m going to have to stop you. … This is the president of the United States. This is not about entertainment. This is about leadership. … You can’t sit here and say that Neil Cavuto is your friend … For him to sit here and attack a journalist, multiple journalists, for their – for reporting the facts on his presidency is not only problematic, it’s unpresidential and it’s un-American. Our First Amendment is the freedom of the press.
And how did host Henry respond? “You made your point,” he told Fowler, and gave Kirk the last word (even though he had had the first word as well). “I’ll defend the president,” Kirk said, though he had just said he would not take sides, “and I’ll defend what he’s done … and the results for this country, it’s incredible.”
“This is part of the problem,” Fowler shot back.
You can watch Fox’s cravenness below, from the February 20, 2020 The Story with Martha MacCallum, via Media Matters.
“Trump Now Wants ‘Bad Ratings’ Fox Anchor Neil Cavuto Fired After Featuring Guest Who Was Mean”