Howard Kurtz and Martha MacCallum are either so blind they can’t see what everyone else sees – that Fox is, as Ted Cruz alleges, “The Donald Trump Network - or they were deliberately trying to dupe viewers when they claimed otherwise.
On America’s Newsroom this morning, host Martha MacCallum called on Kurtz, Fox’s own “media reporter,” to help pave the way for more fawning Donald Trump coverage by pretending that its past coverage was really fair and balanced. A more cynical view might be that Fox wants to get the #NeverTrump folks on board Fox’s Donald Trump For President Campaign Train by pretending that Fox was never working against them.
The segment was framed as a discussion of what the FoxNews.com title described as “the new Republican reality” the media faces. But when it came time to answer Ted Cruz’ charge of yesterday, that Fox News has become “The Donald Trump Network,” this “fair and balanced” discussion featured two Fox hosts with the same pro-Fox view.
First, MacCallum and Kurtz portrayed Cruz as a sore loser, trying to blame others for his own loss:
MACCALLUM: There’s been criticism by Ted Cruz yesterday of Fox News very specifically, saying that Donald Trump was created by Fox News, he is very angry at the media, and feels that it’s the media’s fault that his campaign floundered.
KURTZ: Leaving aside that Senator Cruz didn’t accept as many television invitations, and there is a point to be made about all the free coverage Trump got, particularly at his rallies, on all of the cable news networks and elsewhere. Ted Cruz, look, he had a very frustrating time in the last ten days. He was losing, he needed to deflect attention from that, so blaming the media, which the Republican base doesn’t like, was the best that he could do. But he—as he ratcheted up the rhetoric, as if we wanted Trump to be the nominee so then he could lose to Hillary, and to say that about Fox, I think people weren’t buying it and we saw that last night in Indiana.
I’m not defending Cruz here or as I wrote yesterday, his johnny-come-lately criticisms of Trump and Fox. But for Kurtz to claim that Cruz’s “point to be made” is that Trump got extra coverage on “all of the cable networks and elsewhere” is disingenuous at best. Any Fox News watcher, especially one who claims to be an expert in the media, should have caught on long ago that it’s not just the quantity of air time given to Trump but the quality. From Greta Van Susteren’s Trump informercials presented as town halls to Fox's Trump New Year’s Eve to Fox's rehabilitation of Trump thug Corey Lewandowski, to a Fox liberal gushing over Trump, the bias has been unmistakable. Despite Trump's feud with Megyn Kelly. It's not just liberals who have noticed.
Yet Kurtz and MacCallum wanted to hide behind the “Cruz didn’t accept our invitation” fig leaf, as if Fox would have shown the same coziness for him that it has with Trump.
MACCALLUM: Yeah, And as we’ve said many times, the invitations went out across the board to every candidate. I mean, at every single meeting that we had, we said, “How many candidates can we get on tomorrow? Who are we reaching out to?” And we reached out to every single one of them. So, and Donald Trump said no to us plenty of times, too.
KURTZ: You can’t force candidates to say yes but Trump said yes a lot.
Watch it below, from the May 4 America’s Newsroom. (Some of the transcript via Media Matters.) Also check out the Media Matters video underneath that shows how Fox helped build Trump's presidential campaign even before he declared.