Fox News is often accused of being unfair to liberals and progressives, but there is another group that the right-wing cable news outlet can be horribly unfair to as well: conservatives. More often than not, Fox News doesn’t encourage critical thinking on the right but rather, embraces party lines and dictates how conservatives are supposed to think — and Fox’s atmosphere of groupthink was painfully evident when, on October 11, Shepard Smith announced his departure.
The announcement came as a shock: Smith had been with Fox since its inception back in 1996. But it made sense. Smith is right of center politically, but unlike most at Fox News or Fox Business, he wasn’t simply a mouthpiece for the Trump Administration and was not shy about fact-checking President Donald Trump. Smith had obviously grown very uncomfortable in an environment where most of his co-workers — from Sean Hannity to Tucker Carlson to Judge Jeanine Pirro to Laura Ingraham — equated unwavering devotion to Trump with being a good American and questioning Trump with a lack of patriotism. Carlson and Hannity repeatedly expressed their disdain for Smith.
Nonetheless, there are still some right-wingers at Fox News or Fox Business who think critically and do more than robotically recite talking points for the Trump Administration and the Republican National Committee (RNC). Here are some right-wingers at Fox News or Fox Business who still have critical thinking skills in a post-Shepard Smith era.
1. Judge Andrew Napolitano
Smith announced his departure only two days after Fox News CEO Rupert Murdoch met with Attorney General William Barr, who has turned out to be a staunch Trump loyalist. And pundits responded that with Smith’s departure, others at Fox News would be under pressure to refrain from criticizing the president if they wanted to keep their jobs. But Judge Andrew Napolitano, a libertarian, hasn’t been shy about calling Trump out when he believes it is warranted — and Napolitano certainly wasn’t holding his tongue on Thursday, when he was highly critical of the decision to hold the 2020 G-7 Summit at Trump’s Doral resort in South Florida.
Appearing on the Fox Business Network’s “Cavuto: Coast to Coast,” Napolitano told host Neil Cavuto that holding the G-7 Summit at the Doral resort was a blatant violation of the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Napolitano explained to Cavuto, “The Constitution does not address profits; it addresses any present, as in a gift — any emolument as in cash of any kind whatever. I’m quoting the Emoluments Clause: from any king, prince or foreign state.”
Napolitano continued, “If this were a meeting of the governors of the United States, there would be no Emoluments Clause problem. The purpose of the Emoluments Clause is to keep the president of the United States from profiting off of foreign money.”
Trump, Napolitano asserted, “has bought himself an enormous headache now with the choice of this. This is about as direct and profound a violation of the Emoluments Clause as one could create.”
2. Chris Wallace
The party line among many Trump cheerleaders at Fox News is that the president did nothing wrong during his July 25 phone conservation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. But Chris Wallace doesn’t agree and has said that the whistleblower complaint about that conversation does, in fact, show Trump trying to pressure the Ukrainian president. The Ukraine scandal is by no means the first time Wallace has been critical of Trump, who has attacked him on Twitter more than once. On October 13, Trump tweeted, “Somebody please explain to Chris Wallace of Fox, who will never be his father (and my friend), Mike Wallace, that the Phone Conversation I had with the President of Ukraine was a congenial & good one.”
Wallace is the son of the late broadcast journalist Mike Wallace, who died in 2012 at the age of 93. And he had a snarky response to Trump’s assertions that he will never be the journalist his father was: “One of us has a daddy problem,” Wallace shot back, “and it’s not me.”
3. Lisa Kennedy Montgomery
Libertarian Lisa Kennedy Montgomery, who hosts “Kennedy” on the Fox Business Network and is often part of the panel discussions on “Outnumbered” (Fox News’ equivalent of “The View”), is clearly right-of-center politically. But the former MTV VJ, although quite conservative on economics, hasn’t been shy about criticizing social conservatives or asserting that the Christian Right — which is a key part of Trump’s base — has been terrible for the Republican Party. In the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections, Montgomery supported Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson over the GOP candidates (Mitt Romney in 2012, Trump in 2016).
In a 2017 interview with Reason Magazine, Montgomery asserted that she hoped the “next phase of the Republican Party” would be more “limited-government constitutionalists” like Rep. Justin Amass of Michigan. But that was when Amass was still a Republican and had yet to become persona non grata in the GOP for coming out in favor of impeaching Trump.