Following its protracted campaign to smear Hillary Clinton as a dishonest and untrustworthy leader, Fox News is working overtime to explain away its own polling revealing that the American people trust the former Secretary of State more than the Republican Party and the slew of potential GOP presidential candidates.
According to Fox News' most recent poll data, 54 percent of registered voters consider Hillary Clinton "honest and trustworthy," a higher percentage than potential Republican 2016 presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Christie Christie received. At 49 percent, her favorability rating is higher than that of the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, and all GOP 2016 contenders.
Fox hosts Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Steve Doocy addressed Clinton's poll numbers on the April 17 edition of Fox & Friends by blaming liberal bias in the mainstream media. Doocy complained that Clinton was viewed as more trustworthy than Christie because the "mainstream media [...] beat the drum" against Christie rather than report on the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, in an effort to "take him out." According to Hasselbeck, the poll could be due to a perception bias that favors women:
DOOCY: You know what's interesting about that poll is -- remember it wasn't too long before the whole bridge thing hit the mainstream media fan where Chris Christie was actually leading Hillary Clinton. But then the mainstream media -- and some cynics on the right would say, well they were just trying to take Chris Christie out because he posed the greatest threat for Hillary Clinton -- nonstop coverage on all the channels about that Bridgegate thing.
And when you think about the two potential candidates, you've got Chris Christie who, you know, a while back was involved, his administration put up 25 traffic cones in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and generated hundreds of hours of mainstream media Bridgegate television. And then far screen right you've got Hillary Clinton who ran the State Department which denied extra security for Libya and four Americans wind up dying. I mean that is quite a contrast. You've got 25 orange cones versus four dead Americans -- but you've got the mainstream media and they beat the drum for Chris Christie, against him, and nobody on the other side of the channel is really covering Benghazi, unless us.
HASSELBECK: Well, perception and reality are two different things. I think it is. In the past women have polled better in terms of trust when it comes to politics. But again, as you mentioned, you know, this is a woman who has been ridden with scandal in the past particularly recently when we talk about Benghazi and four Americans dead. She is still found to be more trustworthy at this point. Go figure.
It's understandable that Fox would prefer to discount these findings. The network has put a significant amount of effort into skewing public opinion of Clinton, pushing repeatedly debunked myths in an attempt to tarnish her image in expectation of a presidential bid in 2016. These efforts are in stark contrast with Fox's willingness to hide information that could hurt potential GOP presidential candidates like Christie, whom Fox personalities have previously showered with praise.
In particular, the network has politicized the 2012 Benghazi attacks in an attempt to skewer Clinton's credibility: baselessly accusing her of faking an illness in order to avoid testifying before Congress, fantasizing that she and the State Department colluded to mislead the American people by removing information from unclassified talking points, and promoting Republicans' claims that Clinton personally signed a cable to scale back security at the Benghazi compound prior to the attacks, despite the fact that every one of these myths have been repeatedly and thoroughly debunked by fact checkers, independent investigations, and congressional testimony.
Fox has also revived decades-old lies about the former Senator and Secretary of State, reanimating phony 1990s "scandals" including Whitewater, Travelgate, and Filegate.
And Fox personalities haven't done all the dirty work on their own. The network has recently hosted notorious Clinton attackers, like the "professional dirty trickster" who founded an anti-Hillary Clinton group with the acronym "C.U.N.T.," and the attorney who pushed fabricated anti-Clinton stories in the 90s.
On the March 7 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Fox host Mike Huckabee explained the network's approach to defining Clinton for 2016, emphasizing that Republicans have a "menu" of options with which to attack Clinton:
HUCKABEE: I think Republicans can open up a menu and we have more one than one item to be able to talk about. Benghazi is not the only thing, it's not the lead thing, but here's what it does really represent. It represents whether we can trust Hillary Clinton to pick up the phone at 3:00 in the morning like her ad from 2008 said. And if we find out that when she picks it up she just says "what difference does it make" and hangs up the phone, then that is an issue and she does need to answer for it.