President Trump, Fox News, FOX discussed on Fresh Air
Let's get back to my interview with Jane Mayer a staff writer for the New Yorker, her new pieces called the making of the Fox News White House. You report the Donald Trump was tipped off about a couple of key questions in the debates. What were those questions and how was he tipped off? So this this is a report that's based on several FOX insiders to to who suggest that they have the information from an eyewitness who saw Roger Ailes. Tip off Trump prior to the big Republican presidential debate in twenty fifteen August, two thousand fifteen where where Trump was you know, all eyes were on Trump to see whether he could sort of hold his own, and he was given a famously tough question by FOX host Megan Kelly who asked him about his the the way he had disparaged women, and and and supposedly mistreated women, and and it was a very tough question, and and Trump handled it quite well, he broke the audience up in laughter with a quick one line rejoinder where he said the only women that he spoke poorly of was just Rosie O'Donnell and the hall just blew up in laughter. Everybody thought that was an example of how how Trump could think quickly on his feet and occasionally flash some charm and survive almost any kind of salt from the. Press. But according to a couple of people I interviewed who were insiders at FOX. And in addition somebody in the Trump campaign, they've they can they say that Trump had gotten advance notice of this question is the implication that maybe somebody helped him come up with the Rosie O'Donnell rejoinder or that maybe he'd he'd rehearsed it, I mean, it's it's hard to know. I don't have that from anyone saying that they specifically know that but several people say that Roger Ailes was overheard telling Trump himself that he should get ready for that question. You know in talking about leaking debate questions to to Donald Trump when Donna Brazile who'd been a democratic operative was also working with CNN and was I think working as a commentator, then she leaked questions to the Hillary Clinton campaign that we're going to be asked on the debate. What did candidate Trump have to say when he learned that? Oh, I mean, he he is used it as a reason to sort of flog CNN as fake news and unfair and all of that sort of thing. So I mean, they're certainly an irony. If it really does turn out that he was given the answers himself in advance excuse me. It's really an irony. If it does turn out heat too was given questions in advance. And you you say that starts us up told you it wasn't CNN who leaked us questions. It was not CNN supposedly, Donna Brazile got the questions from a different source, and she was actually put through a very tough interview with with Megan Kelly afterwards, the the FOX host and kind of raked over the coals for it. So the whole thing looks quite ironic, and in retrospect. So what does that say about Fox News? I mean, what if what you're reporting is true. What ethics did the Fox News people break by leaking list of Trump? Well, I mean, if it's it's a form of cheating, basically, it's a pudding a thumb on the scale for one candidate in particular, and it's engaging in politics not journalism. I mean, they're supposed to be a line between being the press and being part of somebody's campaign, and and and in the past actually, it's interesting to me that FOX has laid down that line in two as as recently as twenty ten me, FOX has always been a partisan network. It was it was founded to be a kind of a conservative alternative to the mainstream media. But but a journalistic operation it, you know, it had its own motto which was fair and balanced, and but it's changed according to a number of people, and and what I was saying. Was as recently as twenty ten it laid down the line and reprimanded. Sean Hannity for crossing. It. Sean Hannity was going to appear on the stage doing a fundraiser for the tea party. And he got in a lot of trouble for doing that. And Roger Ailes said, we're not schilling for the tea party or any other party, and Rupert Murdoch himself said I don't think we should be supporting any party, including the tea party, and and and they kind of hung Hannity out there for doing it. But when he crossed that line again in two thousand sixteen FOX just. Issued a very kind of limp statement, and it it it seems like there were served. No repercussions. Well, what was the line that he crossed well, so in the very end of the midterm campaign. Right. But the night before the election. There was a grand final rally, and Sean Hannity was called onto the stage by Donald Trump, and he hopped up there and join Trump and was praising him as if he was a a member of the Trump campaign himself and not only did he prays Trump standing up there with him. But then he castigated the other members of the press calling them fake media, and that actually even included reporters from Fox News. So there was a, you know, huge hullabaloo within the press where reporters felt like that line had been crossed. But FOX really didn't seem to it issued a very sort of milk toast. Reprimand, and and and moved on to the end of the the piece you write about how Fox News has been preparing for the release of the Miller report and a guest on Laura Ingraham's show Joseph Degen Uva who's a lawyer who's been a frequent guest over the years on Fox News. He said it's going to be total war. And as I say to my friends, I do two things I vote and I buy guns. That's that's right. And and I think that it's potentially very dangerous the way that FOX has talked up anger in the base to try to suggest that if if law enforcement were ever to close in on President Trump that that. That they should do something like take to the streets, and maybe even turn to violence. I I mean, I it's an extraordinary situation to have the single largest cable news operation in the country, airing those kinds of sentiments so in new reporting for your New Yorker story on Fox News in the Trump administration. You spoke to several people who had been a part of Fox News in various capacities. Whether it's working behind the scenes as a producer Booker or somebody who, you know, people who've been commentators on there. What are some of the things you learned from from people who were really, you know, insiders and who are conservative. Well, I what was interesting was a number of them are unhappy with the direction that FOX has taken. I mean, they feel that FOX's become too much mouthpiece for President Trump that it's no longer conservative. And they worry that it's giving a platform for. Kind of authoritarianism. And and so, you know, you have people in the story that we're on the record people like Bill Kristol who is conservative. But he is a critic of President Trump's and he used to be a contributor to Fox News. But he is no longer. He no longer has a contract with them, and or an-, and he says, it's changed a lot. And and he feels that it's it's it's really becoming propaganda. So I have to ask you a question about Laura Ingram. This is this is this is a departure from your piece as a piece about you a profile of you and L magazine and ended up profile. It says that when you went off on a reporting trip your boyfriend at that time took up with Laura Ingram. The fact that you, you know, that you're reporting on her now your reporting on Fox News. I just makes my head spin mine too. It was. It was I think something like thirty years ago, and I've been happily married for I think twenty six ever since. Somebody else but to somebody else. So, you know. Yeah. That was it was ancient history. And I mean, I have to say it was a situation where I got my dog, and she got the guy. And I kind of think I got the better ended the deal because she had taken she and the guy had taken the dog. And you got the dog back. I I did actually. Yeah. Wishy political at the time. Did you have any clue who she would become? I think she was pretty political at the time. I mean, she was a summer associate in in my boyfriend's law firm that was what was going on. But I think she'd already I think she'd clerk maybe for Clarence Thomas, but given that back history. I was pretty careful to stay away from writing about her in in this piece there I think it's a piece it's about eleven thousand words, and I think she gets to mentions along the way let me reintroduce you here. If you're just joining us. My guest is Jane Mayer. She's a staff writer for the New Yorker her new piece. Is called the making of the Fox News White House. This is fresh air..