A vigorous defense of President Donald Trump is not unusual on “Fox & Friends.”
You don’t get to be the president’s morning show of choice and a call-in destination by criticizing him, after all. You don’t see Trump calling up “Morning Joe” anymore.
But on Thursday morning, “Fox & Friends” went beyond even the usual warm embrace it typically offers Trump when co-host Ainsley Earhardt seemingly suggested that if the news media don’t want to be the enemy of the people, they should cover the president the way he wants them to.
Nope. No. Never. That’s not the way it works. And thankfully so. You can call that attitude many things — sycophantic, daring, iconoclastic, embarrassing, whatever.
Just don’t call it journalism.
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Granted, morning shows are not a bastion of hard-hitting journalism to begin with. But “Fox & Friends” is a special case, and you could argue it carries a little more responsibility than other shows; the president often tweets what has just appeared on the show.
Still, it doesn’t matter who you’re talking about — Trump, Hillary Clinton, the high school football coach down the road, the woman at a protest march. They don’t dictate how a story is covered.
What Earhardt said
Here’s what happened Thursday.
After talking about the Axios interview in which Trump defended how he calls the press the “enemy of the people” by saying it was his only way of “fighting back,” Earhardt defended the president.
“How frustrating would it be if you are the president of the United States and every single time you turn on the TV on, most of the channels, they are misconstruing what you say?” she asked. “You know your heart and you know your words and your voice and you watch what other people report on what you say, and it’s completely different than what you mean.”
That’s pretty regular stuff from Earhardt — tame, even (check out her sit-down interview with Trump if you want to see a meeting of the mutual-appreciation society).
Then, she said this: “He’s saying if you don’t want to be called the enemy, then get the story right, be accurate and report the story the way I want it reported.”
And she was off to such a good start.
But here’s the thing: two-thirds of what she says is correct. Yes, get the story right. Yes, be accurate. Those are hallmarks of journalism.
But report the story the way Trump wants it reported? When accuracy is not exactly job one with him?
Bill Goodykoontz is a film critic and media columnist at The Arizona Republic, where this column first appeared. You can follow him on Twitter: @goodyk.