In March of 2019, the New Yorker published an extensive investigation on the origin and growth of Fox News. Jane Mayer frames her story with Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch's original vision for the network, which he shared with Reed Hundt, the former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, in 1994:
Unlike the three established networks, which vied for the same centrist viewers, his creation would follow the unapologetically lowbrow model of the tabloids that he published in Australia and England, and appeal to a narrow audience that would be entirely his.
Critics say this creation grew into something never seen before in the U.S. According to Nicole Hemmer, an assistant professor of presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, Fox News has evolved into a beast akin to "state TV."
Fox is the most-watched cable news network in America and has hosted 42 interviews with Trump since he became president, while the other main television networks—excluding CNN, which Trump has deemed unequivocally as "fake news"—have been granted ten interviews combined. Hemmer argues that Fox:
...acts as a force multiplier for Trump, solidifying his hold over the Republican Party and intensifying his support. “Fox is not just taking the temperature of the base—it’s raising the temperature,” she says. “It’s a radicalization model.” For both Trump and Fox, “fear is a business strategy—it keeps people watching.”
In doing so, news has become second to political gain for Fox executives and TV personalities.
According to one study from Research Intelligencer, Fox News ranks as one of the most trusted networks in America, along with the BBC and PBS. According to The Hill, 87 percent of Research Intelligencer's survey respondents claimed to trust Fox News, while other networks like CNN only earned the trust of 69 percent of respondents.
Fox’s defenders view such criticism as unfounded and politically biased.
Fox maintains that as a news network, it is not inappropriately aligned with the president or his agenda. Despite the belief of some that the two are a unit:
Fox’s public-relations department offers numerous examples of its reporters and talk-show hosts challenging the Administration. Chris Wallace, a tough-minded and ecumenical interviewer, recently grilled Stephen Miller, a senior Trump adviser, on the need for a border wall, given that virtually all drugs seized at the border are discovered at checkpoints.
Of the all the rumors during the 2016 election, many revolved around then-presidential candidate Hilary Clinton's health. Speculation about anyone's health is dangerous, and to do so in a news setting is strictly unethical. As The Daily Beat's Justin Baragona reminds readers:
In the news business, it is considered irresponsible to spread baseless, potentially damaging rumors about public figures...Beyond news personalities, the American Medical Association considers it wholly unethical for physicians to speculate on public officials’ health without having personally examined them.
Nevertheless, Fox News was a repeat offender when it came to speculating on Clinton's health, drumming up conspiracy theories based off of her clothing and facial expressions:
For an entire week in August , [Sean] Hannity hosted segments in which he and a slew of guests analyzed out-of-context photos and videos while referencing Clinton’s 2012 concussion to claim the Democratic nominee was battling chronic illnesses, maladies, seizures, and critical neurological conditions.
Although multiple news networks are guilty of medical speculation, none go so far as Fox News. Now, the network is setting its sights on 2020 presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden:
Nevertheless, early last week, while hosting her eponymous Fox Business Network show, Kennedy suggested Biden’s campaign staff may want to keep him “off a main stage” because he says “stupid things and he slurs,” adding that Biden “does look very tired.”
In doing so, Fox is intentionally creating skepticism in Biden's ability to run the country, if elected. The network's claims are nothing more than a clear attempt to skew voters based off outright speculation.
In early March 2019, the Democratic National Committee announced that Fox News would not be hosting any Democratic primary debates for the 2020 presidential election cycle, citing to a lack of confidence in the network after Mayer's piece in the New Yorker.
Many quickly came to Fox's defense in the face of the DNC's decision, saying the committee used recent news as an excuse to swerve the right-leaning network. According to this camp, the DNC should want to be featured on Fox News if it hopes to change the minds of some conservative voters.
Although some might see Trump's support for Fox as concerning, the president has been consistent in honoring the network, even saying he would retaliate against the DNC's decision by refusing to attend general election debates hosted on "liberal" networks. The president has long touted Fox News as the only honest network around: