‘He is a bad-ass’: Fox News makes amends with Trump as he faces indictment | Fox News

A breaking news graphic rushes across the screen, as flashing amber lights illuminate the words: “Fox News alert”.

“We have just gotten word that former president Donald Trump has been indicted,” the host begins, while a stunned gasp is audible from off-camera.

“What?” asks another incredulous voice, as the presenter explains to Fox News’ afternoon audience that the former president will be charged in relation to an alleged “hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels”.

In the moments after the news broke, the network’s hosts and commentators took some time to digest the information. After reporting for weeks that Trump’s indictment was imminent, the news – when it did arrive – seemed to take Fox’s panel of experts by surprise.

“I feel bad for the guy … now they’re trying to nickel-and-dime him for a private agreement he made with a woman eight years ago,” host Jesse Watters says.

But if the network’s initial reaction was one of shock, even uncertainty, what quickly followed was more akin to the bellicose confidence that its viewership has come to expect.

By the time Watters was back on air with his own show, he was telling his prime-time audience that America was now in a “a revenge political climate”.

“When Trump wins back the White House, he needs to start looking into Democrats,” Watters’ guest, Mike Davis, told him.

“Potentially you could have a former president behind bars. The only way you can get a free Trump is to elect a free Trump,” Davis added.

‘Hunting Trump, destroying America’

Fox news has long been friendly to the former president, but has had a more complicated relationship with him recently. Until this week, Trump had been absent from the network for months, the victim of an apparent shadow-ban by senior management.

A closely watched legal battle between the network and voting machine company Dominion was thought to be behind the apparent schism. Evidence put forward in that case revealed what many at the top of Fox truly think of Trump, driving a wedge between the former president and the network that helped to catapult him into the White House.

Private messages, presented as evidence in the $1.6bn case, showed that even as they went on the air to cast doubt over the results of the 2020 election, many Fox News personalities privately doubted Trump’s claims.

“He’s acting like an insane person,” Sean Hannity, one of the network’s best-known personalities, allegedly said of Trump. Fox News’ owner, Rupert Murdoch, said several of the network’s top stars “endorsed” Trump’s false claims, and later added: “I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it in hindsight,” according to a deposition in the case.

But any lasting animosity between two of the most powerful forces of the American right appeared to have disappeared by Thursday night.

Across the network’s coverage, Trump’s indictment was variously characterised as revenge, political overreach and, perhaps most significantly, a boon to his chances of securing the presidency again in 2024.

“He is a bad-ass if he’s got a mug-shot … his poll numbers have gone up with this and I just think this is gonna make sure he’s going to be on the ticket,” one commentator said in the moments after the news broke.

By the time Tucker Carlson, one of the networks most popular personalities, came on air, the question had shifted: how to respond?

Carlson – who once told an associate that he passionately hates Trump, according to evidence in the Dominion case – described the indictment as a turning point for America. He offered up a potted history of Trump’s presidency, a history that he adorned throughout with conspiracy theories, calls for the FBI to be defunded and parallel narratives of the former president’s two impeachments. From the start, he said, “Washington elites” had been working to stop Trump becoming president again.

Throughout his interviews with fellow analysts, a potential Republican rival and Trump’s attorney, Carlson continued to return to the question of how Americans should react.

“The rule of law is suspended tonight,” Carlson announced gravely. “What you’re seeing now is lawlessness – the question is who can stop it?

“It almost feels like they’re pushing the population,” he mused at one point.

Carlson seemed to finally get the answer he was searching for from sports commentator Jason Whitlock: “They are agitating for unrest … I’m ready for whatever’s next. And I hope that every other man watching this is ready for whatever’s next.”

Throughout the evening, the charges against Trump were framed as a direct attack on Americans themselves. Laura Ingraham came to air accompanied by a banner that declared: “Hunting Trump, destroying America”.

Evidence presented in Dominion’s defamation lawsuit showed that many Fox News hosts did not believe Trump’s claims of a stolen election which they pushed on air. But while these depositions suggest that many at the very top of Fox News were more than ready to break with Trump for good, his indictment proves that this will be difficult for the network to accomplish.

“It’s a toxic relationship,” Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, said earlier this month.

“They are good and bad for each other at the same time … Fox can’t do without Trump and Trump ultimately can’t do without Fox because he knows, at the end of the day, that’s the media vehicle through which he will be able to reach the widest audience of his supporters.”

( Information from politico.com was used in this report. Also if you have any problem of this article or if you need to remove this articles, please email here and we will delete this immediately. [email protected] )

Share to...