During a segment on yesterday’s episode of Outnumbered, the Fox News daytime talk show, the hosts and guests joked and smiled and teased one another about things like running for political office. Meanwhile, the chyron along the lower third of the screen at the time read: “Questions on how mail-bomb scare, synagogue attack could impact midterm voters eight days from now.”
How did the commentators segue from a somber discussion of Saturday’s shooting at a house of worship in Pittsburgh to a volley of silly banter that elicited laughs on the set? We don’t presume to know, and neither, it seems, does Matt Drudge, the internet’s original conservative provocateur, who took to social media to critique the right-wing news outlet.
Fox News responded by absolving itself of any wrongdoing whatsoever:
Reaction has been swift, though in fact the blowback began well before yesterday’s on-air debacle.
Edward Luce, chief commentator for the Financial Times, weighed in over the weekend:
And disenchantment with Fox News on the part of conservatives goes back well before that.
“[A]s the Republican Party moves forward, it will be forced to ask itself whether the time has come to dissociate from the FOX News propaganda machine,” a then-student at Fordham University (and a former Fox News fan) wrote in the Fordham Political Review in April 2013.
Five years later, in March 2018, Fox News military analyst Ralph Peters asked that very question himself—and quit the network over it, later telling CNN, “With the rise of Donald Trump, Fox did become a destructive propaganda machine. And I don’t do propaganda for anyone.” (Fox responded to Peters’ statement by accusing him of using his opinion “as a weapon in order to gain attention.”)
As for reactions to Drudge’s sudden change of heart, it was fairly mixed. Some people took his criticism as a sign that Fox News had crossed the Rubicon.
Or that Drudge had perhaps blown things out of proportion.
Or that a new political alliance has dawned: