The Axe-Grinders at Fox News


It is Wednesday morning, and I am watching the midnight replay of Tuesday’s edition of the Kelly File with the beautiful Martha MacCallum filling in for Megyn Kelly.

Alas, beauty does not guarantee intellectual acuity or independence, though I believe, in spite of her performance, that Ms. MacCallum does or can possess both. Yet it is difficult for her to avoid the negative appearance when she and other Fox commentators or hosts continue to besiege only one Republican candidate, Donald Trump.

Is there no other Republican candidate to whom they can ask challenging questions? It seems everyone at Fox has made it his or her job to eliminate the candidacy of Trump so that the path is clear for the same ole same ole Republican “prospects” by lashing his reputation – business and political – over and over.

It pains me to decry Ms. MacCallum – she absolutely dazzles – but it probably isn’t her fault, at least not fully. It is the fault of her scriptwriters. And last night, er, this morning, the script they provided for her made her look bad.

Here is how she opened one part of the Trump segment:

“The announcement comes as some Republican candidates are making the Iran negotiations a top sticking point in this election,” she reported, adding, “Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Scott Walker even going so far as to say they would rip up the deal on Day One, if they were elected, but some candidates have taken a less strident view of that agreement. Take a look.”

First, was it accurate to characterize Cruz and Walker’s position as “strident”? Why would one not use “forceful” or “determined” or just phrase it neutrally by saying, “Some candidates propose a different course of action.” The scriptwriters probably believe “strident” gives the program more sizzle, even if it is patently incorrect.

Second, with that lead-in given to Ms. MacCallum, you would think that A. you will hear many Republican candidates comment on the deal in its present form and B. that they will differ distinctly from Cruz and Walker’s position, i.e., they won’t rip it up.

So what do we actually see?

We see footage of Chuck Todd’s Meet the Press interview with one candidate, Donald Trump. Does Trump contradict Cruz or Walker’s stance? No, because he is answering a different question, namely, what provisions should a deal with Iran contain that would make it better than the existing deal the president and John Kerry have fashioned. Trump tells Todd that he would require Iran to return the four American hostages before any negotiations would even begin. Then he says he would tell Iran up front they would never get the $150 billion dollars of Iranian assets the U.S. has frozen. In an apparent stream of consciousness, Trump proceeds to say that Iran would be getting wealthy anyway and would acquire a nuclear bomb, which would lead to a nuclear holocaust, which he has stated he is against, and which would happen if the Obama – Kerry deal receives official approval.

Nowhere does Trump say he is fine with the deal as it is or that he won’t rip it up. His answer to Todd’s question indicates he would have crafted a different, better deal for the U.S., which is what other Republicans have been saying the president should have done!

But the news writers at Fox made it worse for Ms. MacCallum. They then had her interview the Israeli ambassador, Ron Dermer, for his take on Trump’s comments. He then destroys the Fox premise based on Cruz and Walker’s comments, and affirms what Trump said in his reply to Ms. MacCallum’s first, scripted question:

Well, instead of ripping up a bad deal, why don’t we prevent a bad deal, and hopefully, people in Congress on both sides of the aisle – you saw Senator Menendez come out today – hopefully, they will reject this deal and prevent it from happening, because it does many of those things, ah, that you just heard; uh, it actually paves Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon. It doesn’t block it, and it also frees up a lot of money for Iran.”   (Italics and bolding are mine.)

So Dermer affirms Trump’s position and would prefer that the next president, whoever it might be, not have to tear up the Iran agreement but rather that Congress do something now to prevent the current deal and, by implication, hold out for one that is better for America and Israel, which is what Trump was saying to Todd: what he would do to make a better deal.

Shockingly, Ms. McCallum then asks Dermer: “When you look at Donald Trump – and I know you know Mr. Trump, you’ve met Mr. Trump – um, is he somebody that you want to deal with as president of the United States?”

Who gives a dog doo!? The Israeli ambassador will deal with whomever we elect and live with it. As a voter, I don’t care whether he likes Trump or Clinton or whomever. Whoever is our president is our president. It was just another salvo to get Republicans to be afraid of casting a vote for Trump.

After Ms. MacCallum took a quick swipe at Obama, which Dermer wisely rejected – he discerned what Fox was up to – saying the motives of either side should not be deprecated and debased, she went to another piece, a CNN poll, which showed Trump in the lead but, she quickly added, “it’s not all good news for Mr. Trump out there when you look at the numbers.” She then detailed that 58% of voters who are or who lean Republican think the party would have a better chance to win the presidency with someone other than Trump.

A Trump supporter, interviewed for that last portion of the Trump segment, had to point out that a poll of a broader spectrum of the electorate showed Trump’s 30-point disadvantage to Mrs. Clinton in a head-to-head questionnaire two months ago had eroded to a five point advantage today. Why didn’t Ms. MacCallum, or her Fox News producers, “look at” those numbers?

So that’s how Rupert Murdoch and his marionettes manipulated the entirety of the Trump segment, leeching leading questions and suggestions to facts and words isolated and withdrawn from their factual context to convey a sense of wariness:

  1. Trump wouldn’t rip up the current proposed agreement like Cruz and Walker would, ergo, he’s not towing the Republican line and isn’t as firmly against the Obama-Kerry agreement as Cruz and Walker; ergo, you shouldn’t vote for him.
  2. Our Middle East ally, Israel, may not want to deal with Trump; ergo, you shouldn’t vote for him.
  3. If Trump is the Republican candidate for president, Republicans will not win the White House; ergo, you better not vote for him.

Even Ms. MacCallum’s hotness cannot mask her enforced apostasy toward journalistic fairness and accuracy. She needs to exorcise herself of her demon. That would probably mean she would have to leave Fox and its false god, Rupert Murdoch.

Decisions, decisions, and with Hell to pay!

This post was last updated Thursday, Aug. 20, at 11:15 p.m. It corrects the spelling of Ms. MacCallum’s last name and fixes the use of “Miss” with “Ms.”. Though I have kept that it was the midnight Wednesday replay of the Tuesday Kelly File, it may have been the midnight Thursday replay of the Wednesday Kelly File. I can’t remember. It was late; I had come in from a six-hour drive; I was tired.




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