Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy has engaged in a one-man campaign to attack the political news website Politico, repeatedly dismissing it as a "lefty blog" and criticizing it for "load[ing] up on lefties." Doocy has even stooped to reading critical anonymous comments from a Politico post on the air in order to attack the post's author, Ben Smith, a move criticized as "one of the most revealing stunts I have seen a news-entertainer perform on cable television."
Doocy Repeatedly Attempts To Label Politico A "Lefty Blog"
Doocy Reads Anonymous Reader Comments Left On Politico Post To Attack Writer Ben Smith. On the January 26 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy ended a weather report by randomly criticizing a post written by Politico's Ben Smith, which referenced Esquire magazine's article on Roger Ailes. Doocy said of Politico: "[Y]ou know how on this program we've talked about how Politico is a lefty website? Well, I was looking at Politico yesterday, I was reading a column by a guy by the name of Ben Smith, a column about a guy here at Fox News Channel and I looked at some of the comments from some of his readers and these are some of the comments about Ben Smith at Politico." Doocy then read two comments left on Politico's website by anonymous readers who were critical of Smith's post. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 01/26/11; Politico, 01/25/11; Esquire, 01/18/11]
Doocy, Hewitt Attack Politico CEO Fred Ryan By Claiming His "Blog" Has "Loaded Up On Lefties." On the February 2 edition of Fox & Friends, Doocy told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, "I was looking at -- noodling around on the internet yesterday, and I saw that you and I have something in common. I saw a clip where you had one of the head guys over at Politico and you said, look, your blog has completely become a liberal web site. On this program, I have called it a lefty web site for a while." Hewitt agreed that Politico had "lurched to the left" and "loaded up on lefties." Hewitt concluded by claiming "they've got to hurry back to the center or they're going to lose that opportunity they had to really deal out good political news." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 02/02/11]
Doocy: It's "Pretty Amazing For A Left-Leaning Website To Know What The Head Of The Right Wing Is Doing." On the December 13 edition of Fox & Friends, Doocy referenced a Politico article which reported on speculation that then-RNC chairman Michael Steele would not run for re-election. Doocy claimed "Politico had this story yesterday that apparently Michael Steele is planning to announce his re-election plans and Politico says insiders say he's not going to run, which is pretty amazing for a left, you know a left-leaning website to know what the head of the right wing is doing. Seems a little weird." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/13/10, Politico, 12/12/10]
Doocy Again Criticizes Politico For Steele Reporting, Despite Fox & Friends Running The Same Story. On the December 15 edition of Fox & Friends, Doocy again criticized Politico for reporting that Steele was not planning on running for re-election. Doocy claimed:
A couple of days ago, Politico had this story that said he's not going to run for re-election. Well, he is running. How'd they get that story so wrong? I even asked, how could a left wing blog like Politico know what the right wing and the head of the right wing, the RNC is doing. Well, as it turns out, they didn't know and there's a fella over there by the name of Fred Ryan, he's the CEO of Politico, better keep an eye on what's going on over there. The web site is called Politico. You better get the political stories right.
In criticizing Politico's reporting on Steele, Doocy ignored that earlier in that very show, Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson had also reported that "sources tell Fox News that Michael Steele, chair of the Republican National Committee, will announce in a conference call tonight he is not running for re-election." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/15/10]
Doocy Dismisses Politico As "That Left-Wing Website." On the February 10, 2010 edition of Fox & Friends, Doocy introduced a segment on former Virginia Governor Doug Wilder by saying "I saw this on that left-wing website, Politico." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 02/10/10]
Doocy's Attack On Smith Criticized As A "Revealing Stunt," Risking "What's Left Of Fox's Reputation"
Smith Responds: Doocy "Risk[ed] What's Left Of [Fox's] Reputation By Reading Anonymous Blog Comments On The Air." Following Doocy reading Smith's reader comments on-air, Smith responded in a post titled "Dear commenters, Steve Doocy is reading." Smith wrote:
One of the themes of the Esquire profile of Roger Ailes, with which Ailes cooperated, is that Ailes reads ever word written about him.
You might think that was an exaggeration. But apparently he does, or someone over on Sixth Avenue does. Hard to see how else Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy made his way into my comments section this morning, squinting through the snow during the network's "news" programming.
Doocy's rant, which he says he drew from reading my column yesterday, but which it's hard to believe he wasn't told to do, reflects a remarkably thin skin. I stay out of opinion journalism, but must in my life have written something harsher about someone somewhere, without provoking a news outlet to risk what's left of its reputation by reading anonymous blog comments on the air.
But I am glad that those are the only comments they read from a section that, regular readers know, I've been working on either closing or shutting down because it can sometimes get abusive and out of control. Those are, by local standards, pieces of reasoned criticism. Fair and balanced, even. [Politico, 01/26/11]
Salon Calls Doocy "Roger Ailes' Attack Poodle." In a January 27 post on Salon's "War Room" blog, Alex Pareene called Doocy "Roger Ailes' attack poodle" and wrote:
If you were watching yesterday's "Fox & Friends," the world's most insipid and insidious morning show, you learned that a guy named Ben Smith, who writes for "a lefty website" called Politico, is hated by his commenters.
There was no context or explanation. Ben Smith works for Politico. Politico is liberal. Ben Smith wrote something about "a guy" who works at Fox. Ben Smith's commenters say awful things about him.
Why did this happen? Because Smith, the day before, had linked to Esquire's extended interview with Roger Ailes. Smith called Ailes "one of the most powerful men in American politics" and even said he was correct to speak of "the plot to take me down." The only remotely critical thing in the brief introduction to an extended quotation of Ailes' own words was when Smith said it was "ill-advised" of Ailes to call everyone at NPR "Nazis." [Salon, 01/27/11]
Time: Doocy "Pull[ed] One Of The Most Revealing Stunts I Have Seen A News-Entertainer Perform." On Time magazine's Swampland blog, Michael Scherer wrote:
You should read Tom Junod's profile of Fox News honcho Roger Ailes in Esquire. There, I said it too. Now, come after me Steve Doocy. Make it hurt real bad.
Ben Smith of Politico made this same recommendation yesterday on his blog, which apparently prompted Fox News' Doocy to pull one of the most revealing stunts I have seen a news-entertainer perform on cable television. [Time, 01/26/11]