I think Trump should win the suit on the merits but it makes me laugh that the right is so prostrate before POTUS at this point that even Fox News might be successfully demagogued for disagreeing with him on a single narrow point. Their primetime line-up is basically a three-hour Trump commercial. They don’t get to side with CNN this one time?
Can’t fault OAN CEO Robert Herring for trying to seize an opportunity to gain an advantage on the competition, though. Just like you can’t knock Fox for looking out for their own interests with respect to White House briefings. Both players are acting rationally here.
— Robert Herring (@RobHerring) November 15, 2018
Translation: We love you more, Mr. President. It’s a sensible pitch as OAN grasps for ways to cut into the Fox behemoth’s market share. But Fox’s decision to stand with Acosta is sensible too. If in fact Trump wins in court and gains the power to exclude particular reporters from White House events, liberals will want the next Democratic president to make use of that power too. And we all know who the prime target will be, and it won’t be OAN. Fox was targeted years ago for exclusion from interviews with the Obama administration, as Ed noted a few days ago; only because CNN and other networks hung with them in objecting did Team O finally relent. Siding with CNN again now is Fox’s way of taking out a little insurance just in case President Kamala Harris decides that FNC is too evil or whatever to be allowed into her briefings. They’re scratching Acosta’s back today so that CNN will scratch theirs tomorrow.
No doubt Herring has also been paying attention to the fact that Fox has put a little daylight between itself and the president lately. Emphasis on “a little.”
But the network has made several moves in recent weeks to distance itself. Fox News was quick to condemn the two hosts for appearing to campaign with Trump, especially after Hannity had pledged to not take the stage with the president.
“FOX News does not condone any talent participating in campaign events,” a Fox News spokesperson said in a statement at the time. “This was an unfortunate distraction and has been addressed.”
And earlier this month, Fox News pulled an immigration ad put out by the White House, which other networks had labeled as racist. Nonetheless, the network’s coverage of immigration still tended to align with Trump’s interests — Fox News devoted significant air time to a caravan of migrants heading through Mexico in hopes of seeking asylum in the U.S.
If I know my president, he’ll be delighted at an opportunity to play Fox off of OAN and vice versa for more flattering coverage from both. Supposedly he used to enjoy watching underlings at the Trump Organization vie with each other for dominance; the same dynamic played out for awhile during the 2016 campaign when Corey Lewandowski and his loyalists battled Paul Manafort and his team for control of the Trump train. Now Trump has OAN seizing the Acosta dust-up to declare itself the one true Trump News Network. POTUS will probably reward them with some sort of extended interview, or much more frequent interviews, if only to remind Fox that he’s capable of singlehandedly elevating OAN as a serious rival to them if they wander too far off the reservation. If you think primetime on FNC is pro-Trump now, check back this spring and see what it looks like.