The hosts at Fox News have been furious in recent days. The mainstream media, they say, has been “gushing” over Joe Biden, offering “nauseating” coverage of the new president and “not hiding their excitement”.
Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham are some of the rightwing commentators at the conservative channel getting good mileage from the alleged Biden-fawning – but their accusations have raised eyebrows among those who watched Fox News’s hosts spend four years largely functioning as an extension of Donald Trump’s White House.
Fox News, however, is not known as a place for self-reflection, or irony, which meant Hannity – who has literally campaigned with Trump – was able to chide other journalists’ coverage of Biden.
“The tingling sensation up and down the media mobs’ legs,” Hannity noted last week, “Well they are throbbing like never before.”
Hannity’s comments will have struck many observers as hypocritical, given Hannity’s own unbridled passion for the previous president.
“Promises made, promises kept,” Hannity told the crowd at a Trump rally in 2018. “Mr President, thank you.”
The sight of a journalist campaigning for a political candidate would have been strange, had it not been for Hannity’s long-running fascination with the twice-impeached president. The host has spent years lauding Trump, and has repeatedly contorted himself to support the ex-president when praise barely seemed possible.
“You were very strong at the end of that press conference,” Hannity assured Trump during a Fox News interview in July 2018. The press conference Hannity was referring to was the infamous, widely condemned, Helsinki joint press conference by Trump and the Russia president, Vladimir Putin, where Trump sided with the Kremlin over its denial of election meddling.
A couple of months earlier, Hannity had kicked off a segment on his show with the words: “President Trump has already accumulated an amazing record of accomplishments.” According to Hannity, those accomplishments included Trump’s approval ratings. At the time, 42% of Americans approved of Trump, and 52% disapproved.
More recently, Hannity approvingly compared Trump – then stricken by coronavirus – to Winston Churchill.
Hannity, however, was far from alone in his fawning attitude towards Trump – as a “Then and now” video montage by the Daily Show illustrated on Tuesday.
“Well get ready, it’s gonna be four years of nauseating, gauzy coverage,” thundered Laura Ingraham on Fox News this week. “The watchdogs? Well, they’re just lapdogs.”
Ingraham, host of the Ingraham Angle Fox News show, is something of an expert in this field.
“I don’t see anybody else on the horizon that’s fighting for the American people like he is,” Ingraham said of Trump in 2017, while she has also suggested Trump will be viewed similarly to Ronald Reagan, which in Republican circles is considered a compliment. In December 2020, Ingraham even dedicated a segment to Trump’s “triumphs”, while when granted an interview with Trump, in 2017, she posed questions that brought a new meaning to the term softball.
“Are you having fun in this job?” Ingraham asked Trump, later asking the president: “Look at the economy. Are you getting credit for this economic revival?”
Two years later, Ingraham used an interview with Trump to praise his “incredible trip” to France and to criticize Nancy Pelosi, asking Trump: “How do you work with someone like that?”
Another Daily Show clip captured Jesse Watters as he used his show on Fox News to lay out accusations of media bias. “They continue to fawn over this guy like he’s Jesus Christ!” said Watters, who outside the rightwing media world is mostly known for presenting a segment in New York City’s Chinatown which was widely condemned as racist.
Tucker Carlson, whose professionally enraged shtick – and closeness to Trump – has made his show the highest-rated cable news program in the US, was also upset at the treatment of Biden, as the TV host laid out in a heavily sarcastic segment on 20 January.
“He will fill the yawning void where our empathy should be. He is medicine,” was Carlson’s recap of inauguration day, after he played a selection of clips of people on TV suggesting Biden might be a healing presence in the White House.
In recent days Steve Doocy, a host on the show Fox and Friends, also got in on the act and proclaimed “the mainstream media loves him!” of Biden. Doocy had previously used an interview with Trump to praise the then president’s “beautiful hotel”.
Doocy’s colleague Jeanine Pirro was also upset with Biden’s treatment, in contrast to her own interactions with Trump. “Given your ability, your successes,” Pirro told Trump in an interview during his presidency that functioned more as a campaign huddle, “How are we going to get that across to the American people?”
*story by The Guardian