Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Throwing Them Their Lines

To the surprise of no one, the Daily Beast reveals that Fox News gives their Trump administration interview subjects the questions in advance and tailors them to their liking.

Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt was clearly taken aback last year when occasional Fox & Friends fill-in host Ed Henry grilled him about a number of ethical scandals facing his administration.

And Pruitt had a good reason to be surprised. In past interviews with President Trump’s favorite cable-news show, the then-EPA chief’s team chose the topics for interviews, and knew the questions in advance.

In one instance, according to emails revealed in a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the Sierra Club and reviewed by The Daily Beast, Pruitt’s team even approved part of the show’s script.

Fox & Friends has long been a friendly venue for Trump and his allies, but the emails demonstrate how the show has pushed standard cable-news practices to the extreme in order to make interviews a comfortable, non-confrontational experience for favored government officials.

Cable-news veterans told The Daily Beast that it is common for television producers to discuss topics in advance with their subjects; and, on occasion, producers will ask pre-interview questions to understand what a subject has to offer, and why their information is relevant.

However, it is widely frowned upon to offer public officials pre-interviews, as this can help the official avoid difficult questions.

And providing and seeking approval scripts is even more of a taboo.

Well, it’s only a taboo if you’re a real news outlet doing real journalism.  In the case of Fox News, it’s as well-scripted as your average Cub Scout skit with the same level of talent and theatrical integrity.  The only thing they’re missing is the den mother standing in the wings shouting out the lines to the poor kid who can’t remember them.