Donna Brazile left Fox News so quietly we didn't even realize she was gone

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya, file)

Former DNC chairwoman turned political pundit Donna Brazile quietly left her gig as a contributor on Fox News Channel. The question is, did anyone notice? I confess that I regularly watch the cable news network and I did not, at least at first.

Last Sunday morning while watching the Sunday morning cable news shows, as is my routine most weeks, I noticed that Donna Brazile was a participant on a panel of political commentators during ABC’s This Week show. She was referred to as a contributor. That was when I realized that she was no longer with FNC because she wouldn’t be employed by the two networks simultaneously. I usually have FNC on during the day, usually muted, to keep up with breaking news and current events. I’ll switch to CNN now and then but not for too long because I’d rather listen to a conservative bias than a liberal bias.

Brazile was fired by CNN in 2016 when it became known (thanks to WikiLeaks) that she provided Hillary Clinton with debate questions during that year’s presidential campaign. Even for CNN, that was crossing the line. She was hired by FNC in 2019. The network received a lot of blowback from viewers who remembered her breach of ethics in 2016. She was one of several Democrats employed at the network that touts itself as fair and balanced. To its credit, FNC brings on contrasting views on most panels during daytime programming. The shows during primetime hours at night are opinion shows. Those shows are not so balanced, by design.

Donna Brazile is well-known in the world of politics. She’s a long-time Democrat strategist and has been a Washington insider for decades. Over the course of time during her stint at Fox, she went from affable Democrat opposition to conservative commentators to a shrill and angry anti-Trumper. That was my observation, anyway. By the time she left, the 2020 election was over and her candidate was in the White House. Brazile now says her mission was accomplished and she was ready to move on from Fox, though the network offered to extend her contract for 2-4 more years. She said she ‘accomplished what she wanted.”

‘When my contract expired, they offered me an additional 2-4 years,’ Brazile told The Daily Beast when asked about her departure from Fox, ‘But I decided to return to ABC.’

Brazile went on to say that ‘all is good’ between her and Fox, suggesting that the split was amicable.

In an email to the New York Times, Brazile elaborated more about her time with Fox News.

‘Fox never censored my views in any way,’ Brazile said. ‘Everyone treated me courteously as a colleague.’

Brazile also added, ‘I believe it’s important for all media to expose their audiences to both progressive and conservative viewpoints. With the election and President Biden’s first 100 days behind us, I’ve accomplished what I wanted at Fox News.’

The 2020 presidential election was cause for heated political discussions on cable news channels, including on Fox, especially before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the country and crashed the economy. President Trump was thought to be on his way to re-election up until then. The Democrats were in panic mode. Brazile went from friendly banter with conservative hosts and panelists to making pointed and snide comments. At one point, for example, during the Democrat primary, Brazile told RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel to “go to hell” during their time on-air together. Fox didn’t fire her, they kept her on.

Now she’s back in friendlier territory. There have been other changes recently on FNC.

Brazile is the third prominent figure to depart from Fox News recently, joining Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Jedediah Bila and former White House correspondent Kristin Fisher, who has been hired by CNN.

Fisher was criticized by viewers for a November segment in which she debunked the election fraud claims of Trump’s lawyers.

Juan Williams also recently left The Five so he could stay in Washington DC with his family, though he is set to continue on at the network.

Williams was the liberal voice on the round table show, a slot Brazile could have been a contender to fill.

The New York Times calls the personnel changes intensifying its “Pro-Trump politics” which isn’t surprising, given that liberals believe that any conservative dissent in the media is unacceptable. There can only be groupthink on the left.

Onscreen and off, in ways subtle and overt, Fox News has adapted to the post-Trump era by moving in a single direction: Trumpward.

The network has rewarded pro-Trump pundits like Greg Gutfeld and Dan Bongino with prize time slots. Some opinion hosts who ventured on-air criticism of the former president have been replaced. And within the Fox News reporting ranks, journalists have privately expressed concern that the network is less committed to straight-ahead news coverage than it was in the past.

Frankly, that has always been the criticism of Fox, since its inception. The reason FNC consistently wins the rating war is that it provides a different point of view than the other big cable networks, and standard broadcast networks, too. Tune into any other network besides Fox and the newscasts provide a decidedly liberal slant to stories. FNC’s ratings dipped post-election but have now recovered.

Partisanship plays well on cable news, an insight not lost on programmers at other networks who are chasing fatigued viewers. Liberal-leaning MSNBC has expanded the show hosted by the anti-Trump commentator Nicolle Wallace; it also replaced the moderate Chris Matthews at 7 p.m. with the partisan commentator Joy Reid. Last week, CNN dropped one of its chief conservative commentators, Rick Santorum, after he was criticized for remarks about Native Americans.

“Conservatives have a long-held suspicion of the mainstream media being in the tank for Democrats and for the left,” said Ryan Williams, a Republican strategist and longtime aide to Mitt Romney who has occasionally appeared on the network as a guest. “Fox News for many years was viewed as the only outlet that wasn’t shilling for the other side. Liberals may doubt the power of Fox News, but it still draws a considerable audience for a reason.”

It can be noted that one of ABC News’ top political analysts, Matthew Dowd, is no longer with the network. The Democrat turned George W. Bush Republican turned Independent has apparently run his course at the network. He was a regular on This Week.