Today Fox & Friends interviewed GOP nominee Mitt Romney, giving him one of their typical softball interviews, allowing him to attack Obama and promote his economic and foreign policy without fear of any challenge from the three co-hosts. Immediately following the segment, Romney rewarded Fox & Friends by ironically praising Fox for their history of providing "fair and balanced" reporting and "pointing out both sides of issues."
The interview began when co-host Steve Doocy called Romney "Mr. President," and immediately degenerated into the co-hosts inviting Romney to bash his would-be opponent:
DOOCY: Mr. Romney, wouldn't you say that the president knows his jobs bill, in the way it is right now, is not going to pass and all he's doing is trying to portray the U.S. Congress as a bunch of do nothings like Harry Truman did to score political points for next year?
CARLSON: It's interesting because the president has said on many occasions, well, Republicans need to come up with a plan. I haven't heard a plan from the Republicans. But maybe he wasn't listening to you because you put out your economic -- an economic plan several months ago.
DOOCY: Governor, what has this president been in -- by describing it the way you just did? A leader, a follower, or an apologizer when it comes to foreign policy?
Near the end of the interview, Gretchen Carlson aired a clip of Doocy cleaning the Massachusetts Statehouse on Fox News' 10th anniversary while Romney was still governor.
After the clip, Doocy prompted Romney's praise of Fox, asking "Governor, what kind of an impact has Fox News Channel had on America, looking back 15 years?" Immediately following the favorable interview he had just received, Romney praised the network's "fair and balanced" reporting and their willingness to provide "both sides of issues":
ROMNEY: Well, I think it's opened up America's eyes to the idea that one side does not have all the answers. That, in fact, there are different points of view on important issues, and Fox has been, in my view, fair and balanced, as it advertised from the very beginning, pointing out both sides of issues. And the American people have responded overwhelmingly, making Fox News number one. So congratulations to you guys. It's been a remarkable success and seeing Sir Rupert and Roger on the TV this morning, you have to tip your hat to these guys. They've done quite a job.
Of course, Fox is no stranger to giving softball interviews to GOP officials and candidates. In a May interview with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Doocy led a question by saying, "You want to fix Medicaid, Medicare." Last year, host Greta Van Susteren conducted an interview with Texas Governor Rick Perry, now a GOP presidential contender, in which she invited him to hype Texas's economic record -- but didn't ask about the state's budget shortfall. Sean Hannity has hosted softball interviews with GOP officials so often that Slate's David Weigel coined a neologism, "to Hannitize," meaning, "to clean up a messy situation with a softball interview." And the network's hosts have given many friendly interviews to former President George W. Bush, both while he was in office and after his presidency.
Even Las Vegas affiliate Fox5 criticized Fox & Friends for an interview it gave then-Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle last year, saying it was "rife with inaccuracies, softball questions and poor research on the part of the producers and hosts."
There are countless other examples of Fox News giving friendly interviews to GOP figures. But it's clear: Fox News' fair and balanced mantra is consistently undermined by their very cozy relationship with GOP candidates.