A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
Fox News was in full attack mode Tuesday night, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Kamala Harris. From depicting her as a “radical running mate” to mocking the pronunciation of her name to suggesting Joe Biden didn’t actually select her himself, the conservative network’s prime time lineup was in overdrive.
Frankly, if you stripped the network’s programming of any identifying labels or names, and just looked at a transcript of the 8pm to 11pm hours, you’d be forgiven if you mistook the channel for a Trump 2020 campaign livestream.
Of course, that isn’t terribly surprising. The alliance between Fox News and President Trump has been well documented. But the attacks on Tuesday night serve as a guide for what the Trump campaign and right-wing media at large are going to throw at Harris. So I thought it would be useful to provide a tick-tock of the network’s coverage here.
“Takes away from some of the selection”
While her show isn’t technically in a prime time slot, I thought it was noteworthy how Martha MacCallum — who Fox News markets as a “straight news” journalist — covered the selection of Harris. In the opening of her show, MacCallum noted that black leaders had urged Biden to select a woman of color as his running mate. MacCallum commented, “I think, in a way, as a woman, it takes away from some of the selection in some ways.”
Carlson mocks name
Tucker Carlson started his show attacking Harris as a “one-dimensional” candidate who he described as perhaps the “single most transactional human being in America.” Carlson said that “there are time-share salesman you could trust more” than Harris and “payday lenders who are more sincere.”
But it was Carlson’s mockery of Harris’ name that drew the most attention. Carlson repeatedly mispronounced the senator’s name, even getting called out by a guest for doing so. Carlson claimed his mispronunciation was unintentional. But it should be noted that Carlson often mispronounces the names of people he doesn’t like. It’s sort of a feature on his show and it seems pretty intentional. And, as Mediaite pointed out, he kept doing so after his guest corrected him.
Hannity and Trump team up to bash
Sean Hannity’s opening monologue was fairly predictable — and it’s not hard to envision Hannity reciting the same monologue for any of the other candidates who were under consideration. Hannity framed Harris as a supporter of socialism with a “radical extremist record” that is “atrocious.” In Hannity’s words: “This pick solidifies what’s the most extreme radical far-left out of the mainstream ticket of any major political party in American history.” And on and on it went, with Jeanine Pirro openly saying that she was “not sure” Biden himself actually picked Harris and wondering, “Who really picked this woman to be the vice presidential candidate?”
Trump eventually phoned into the show and the two continued beating up on Harris. Trump didn’t quite say anything new or notable. He suggested Biden didn’t have control over the Democratic Party — even though it will formally nominate him for president next week — and railed against the news media for some time. What was noticeably absent from Hannity’s conversation: the coronavirus. Hannity only lobbed a softball to Trump on the topic at the very end of his 30+ minute chat.
Meanwhile, Ingraham scrapes bottom of barrel
Laura Ingraham opened her show by perpetuating the theme from right-wing media that Biden won’t actually be in control of his White House. Ingraham read what she characterized as a “telling tidbit” from Biden’s email to supporters in which he said, “I’ve decided that Kamala Harris is the best person to help me take this fight to Donald Trump and Mike Pence and then to lead this nation starting in January 2021.”
Ingraham then commented, “Wait, wait, to lead this nation? Wasn’t that you supposed to be on the top of the ticket doing all that leading for us, Joe? You know, that whole presidency then? Come on, man. Even Joe is witted enough to understand that he’s not really going to be running the show if he wins in November.” Ingraham deserves credit for extrapolating all of that from an innocuous line in the Biden campaign email.
FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE
– “The very first words of the very first statement President Trump’s reelection campaign offered in response” to the Harris news “were false,” Philip Bump notes… (WaPo)
– The progressive media watchdog Media Matters notes that right-leaning Facebook pages “have been laying the groundwork to attack Kamala Harris online…” (Media Matters)
– The Obamas and the Bidens will be the keynote speakers at next week’s DNC convention. Sarah Mucha and Dan Merica have all the schedule details… (CNN)
– Several TV networks have announced their DNC and GOP convention coverage plans… Ted Johnson has the details… (Deadline)