Trump demands an "alternative" to Fox News as he accuses the network of spreading misinformation

"They are being fed Democrat talking points, and they play them without hesitation or research," Trump says of Fox

Published April 27, 2020 12:48PM (EDT)

Donald Trump watching Tucker Carlson Tonight (Getty Images/AP Photo/Salon)
Donald Trump watching Tucker Carlson Tonight (Getty Images/AP Photo/Salon)

President Donald Trump demanded an "alternative" to Fox News over the weekend as he accused the right-leaning network of disseminating Democratic talking points "without hesitation or research."

The president publicly called out some of his favorite targets at the conservative cable channel, including former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., who is on the board of Fox News' parent company. The president smeared the former GOP vice presidential nominee as a "RINO," or Republican in name only. 

Trump also lashed out for the second weekend in a row at longtime Fox News anchor Chris Wallace. The president called the veteran journalist "nastier to Republicans than even Deface the Nation or Sleepy Eyes," references to CBS News' "Face the Nation" and the host of NBC News' "Meet the Press," Chuck Todd.

The tweets conflated Fox News with networks more routinely critical of the president. The president put the outlet on notice that its viewers, himself included, were "angry."

"@FoxNews just doesn't get what's happening! They are being fed Democrat talking points, and they play them without hesitation or research," Trump wrote. "They forgot that Fake News @CNN & MSDNC wouldn't let @FoxNews participate, even a little bit, in the poor ratings Democrat Debates."

"Even the Radical Left Do Nothing Democrats laughed at the Fox suggestion. No respect for the people running @FoxNews. But Fox keeps on plugging to try and become politically correct. They put RINO Paul Ryan on their Board. They hire 'debate questions to Crooked Hillary' fraud @donnabrazile (and others who are even worse)," he added. "Chris Wallace is nastier to Republicans than even Deface the Nation or Sleepy Eyes. The people who are watching @FoxNews, in record numbers (thank you President Trump), are angry. They want an alternative now. So do I!"

An alternative to what? Trump-backing Fox News personalities bookend the the day, from the co-hosts of "Fox & Friends" — who appear weekday mornings across a three-hour bloc — to the three-peat of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, whose programs have pushed the white supremacist "great replacement" theory.

And several network hosts are known to have the president's ear and even steer policymaking. Former White House strategist Steve Bannon called Tucker Carlson the president's "most influential national security adviser," while disgraced former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly said Hannity's influence over the president made him "the most powerful broadcaster" in America.

"I don't know of anybody more powerful at this point in history than you are," O'Reilly said on Hannity's radio show last week. 

A former Trump campaign official told federal investigators that Fox News host Sean Hannity "tailored his shows" based on recommendations from former campaign manager Paul Manafort, according to FBI memos.

But Trump over the last few months has grown increasingly disillusioned with the hard news faction network, which he accused of "being on a bad path" last week.

"Nervous Nancy is an inherently 'dumb' person," the president tweeted at the time. "She wasted all of her time on the Impeachment Hoax. She will be overthrown, either by inside or out, just like her last time as 'Speaker.' Wallace & @FoxNews are on a bad path, watch!"

Trump has twice asked "what the hell is happening" at Fox News, and he twice went after Fox reporters this month during White House coronavirus briefings. The president took shots at several shows and personalities in February for what he perceived as critical coverage. He tweeted in January that Fox News was "really pathetic" and "so politically correct," singling out Wallace's impeachment coverage.

Trump has continued to call on journalists from disreputable far-right outlets One America News Network and Newsmax during official White House briefings. The White House Correspondents Association recently banned an OANN reporter for violating briefing regulations, but the White House immediately invited her back. The president has also called several times on Newsmax's White House correspondent, who tosses softball questions, such as asking about a developing conspiracy theory regarding medical research grants given out by the Obama administration.

"I've been hearing about that," the president answered. "We're looking at it literally about an hour ago."

Trump has made his preferences pellucid, tweeting on April 11 that some Fox News programming was "a total waste of time" and plugging OANN by name as an alternative. The president also appeared to take a dig at Fox in December when he retweeted a jab at the network's sluggish confirmation of a story broken by OANN. The tweet Trump shared has since been deleted, apparently for its inaccuracy.

But Trump's relationship with OANN has not always been quite so warm. The network complained on Twitter last year that Trump had not expressed gratitude at a rally, calling "bullsh*t" on his loyalty. That tweet has also been yanked.

By Roger Sollenberger

Roger Sollenberger was a staff writer at Salon (2020-21). Follow him on Twitter @SollenbergerRC.

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