The January 22 edition of Fox News' On the Record claimed to offer, in host Greta Van Susteren's words, "the inside story" behind Republican Scott Brown's victory in the Massachusetts special Senate election "from people who know him best." But Van Susteren offered an extremely positive view of Brown, broadcast from the gym at the high school he attended and featuring interviews with Brown and the strategist and chief legal counsel for his campaign, as well as Brown's high school basketball coach and "the man credited with getting Scott Brown to join the National Guard."
Interview with Brown: "Tell me about your trip to Washington"
Jenkins tosses softballs to Brown. In a taped interview with Brown, producer Griff Jenkins asked the following questions:
- "Tell me about your trip to Washington. How were you received?"
- "You're 41. There's a very important issue, health care, there. What did -- what can you share with about what the other senators spoke to you about with regards to the health care?"
- "Senator [Ben] Nelson of Nebraska, we've all heard about the 'Cornhusker kickback.' Are you prepared to go to Washington and tell your now-colleagues like Senator Nelson, 'Hey, we've gotta knock that off?' "
- "What's your first priority? When you hit Washington, you're going to hit the ground running. What are the first priorities, I should ask?"
- "A lot of reporters, colleagues of mine, have been trying to now define, 'What is a Scott Brown Republican?' I ask you, what's a Scott Brown Republican?"
- "Talking about your family, on election night, take me behind the scenes. When did you know you had won? And what was happening?"
- "What are you doing now? What are you doing this afternoon?"
- "And any indication on when you'll be seated? Did you have any conversations with regards to that?"
- "And when you get there, the health care bill, dead on arrival?"
- "You clearly understood the anger, the populist sentiment with regards to the things happening in Washington in your own race. When did you really realize that would bring you a victory? And what does it mean for 2010 with other races?"
Jenkins: Basketball court site of "one of the earliest episodes, perhaps, of him being somewhat of a leader." After the taped interview, Jenkins appeared with Van Susteren to say, "We're at the Wakefield High School. This is the court where Scott Brown was the co-captain of his basketball team, and one of the earliest episodes, perhaps, of him being somewhat of a leader. He was a quiet student, you know, didn't speak out a lot, but was apparently a driven athlete." Van Susteren responded: "And I imagine quite popular. We've seen that magazine cover. I imagine he was quite popular among the other students, especially maybe perhaps the women." Jenkins added, "Full disclosure: We did try and track down his high school sweetheart, but we weren't able to do so."
Gym scoreboard displayed Brown's margin of victory. The segment ended with a shot of the gym's scoreboard, which displayed a score of 52 to 47 with 20:10 on the clock, presumably representative of Brown's margin of victory over Democrat Martha Coakley in the election:
Van Susteren, Jenkins provide friendly interviews of Brown friends
Program provides interviews with Brown's "wonder boy" campaign strategist, MA state senator who is Brown's "friend." In the following segment, Van Susteren interviewed Massachusetts state Sen. Brian Joyce (D), whom she identified as a "Coakley supporter." During the interview, Joyce stated that he was "a Scott Brown friend," repeatedly called Brown a "good guy," said that Brown was "absolutely" the "type of guy who reaches across the aisle" and "a voice of fiscal moderation." During a later taped segment, Jenkins interviewed Brown campaign strategist Eric Fehrnstrom, who Jenkins said was "dubbed by Senator-elect Brown 'the wonder boy.' " Jenkins added: "I watched him call you that. You were the wonder boy." Jenkins also asked Fehrnstrom, "You traveled with Senator-elect Brown to Washington. Take me behind the scenes there. How did that go? How was he received?" [quotes from the Nexis database]
Van Susteren speculated on "the expression on President Obama's face" while calling Brown. Introducing her interview with Brown's "college friend" and campaign chief legal counsel Dan Winslow, Van Susteren said: "OK, check out this historic moment caught on camera. That is Senator-elect Scott Brown moments after winning the election receiving a call from President Obama. You have to wonder the expression on President Obama's face as the realization the filibuster-proof Senate was crumbling had set in." Van Susteren then asked Winslow about "how the phone call happened."
Show aired interviews with Brown's high school basketball coach and "the man credited with getting Scott Brown to join the National Guard." After a clip of an interview by Jenkins of retired Col. John Encarnacao, whom Jenkins described as "the man credited with getting Scott Brown to join the National Guard," Van Susteren conducted a phone interview with Ellis Lane, Brown's high school basketball coach. Van Susteren asked him: "Coach, what kind of basketball player was he? Was he any good?" Later, she asked, "Coach, if you rewind back to that time and put yourself back in this gym where I'm standing, would you ever have dreamed that this is where Scott Brown would have ended up?" (quotes from Nexis)
Van Susteren asked, "How did Senator-elect Brown get the name 'Downtown Scotty Brown'?" Van Susteren concluded the show with clips from Brown's victory speech, which she described as "his first speech as senator-elect," followed by another interview of Winslow, in which she asked him, "How did Senator-elect Brown get the name 'Downtown Scotty Brown'?" Winslow described Brown as a "real American, somebody who has no pretense about him. What you see is what you get."
Program devoted to Brown follows On the Record's previous praise of him
Jenkins declared Brown "immensely well-liked and trusted." On the January 21 edition of On the Record, Jenkins highlighted the "secret ambitions" of Brown as outlined in his high school yearbook and interviewed "several people that know Scott Brown," including his neighbor, high school coaches, and the mechanic at "the gas station where Scott gets his pickup truck worked on," asking "what does the rest of America need to know" about Brown. At the end, Jenkins stated: "[W]e found that he is certainly immensely well-liked and trusted."
During campaign, Fox News gave Brown platform to raise money
Brown previously appeared as guest on Van Susteren's show. As Media Matters for America has detailed, Fox News hosted Brown several times prior to his January 19 election, providing him a forum to raise funds, and Fox News hosts and guests encouraged donations to his campaign. Brown was a guest on the January 11 edition of On the Record.