Media Critic: Donald Trump "Has Been Hammering Away" At Fox News' "Core Brand Identity"
Baltimore Sun's David Zurawik Says Bill O'Reilly "Looked Kind Of Pathetic" When He "Begged Trump" To Attend Debate
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From the January 31 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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BRIAN STELTER (HOST): David Zurawik, don't you wish we could have seen the video that they had prepared for Donald Trump? I mean, that debate framing seemed to be ready for Trump, and yet, he wasn't there to actually listen to the questions.
DAVID ZURAWIK (BALTIMORE SUN MEDIA CRITIC): Yeah, I wish we could have, and I tell you what, Brian, I can't agree with Dan Abrams earlier saying a win-win for Fox. You and I both know, all of us on this panel know, that maybe -- certainly not 24 million but the expectation was 18 million. 12.5 million was a very small audience. So obviously, they're hurt that way. But I think they're hurt in a deeper way, and it's this. Donald Trump has been hammering away at their core brand identity. They've built this ratings juggernaut on "fair and balanced," and he is saying on Twitter relentlessly, "Fox is not fair, Fox is not fair." Now, some of the people who set their dial to Fox at 8 o'clock with Bill O'Reilly and ride it all the way through till they go to bed, which gives them these giant ratings, are also people who are responding to the anger that Donald Trump is attacking.
STELTER: So he's driving a wedge?
ZURAWIK: Exactly, and he's threatening their core identity. I think that's much of what this was about. That statement I think really hurt them because it's the statement of a political operative, not a journalistic institution. And I'll tell you how you can tell they were rattled -- by Bill O'Reilly when he begged Trump to come on that show. I've written that he is the Johnny Carson of cable, prime time television. He's flawless in terms of his performance. He was not only off his game, he looked kind of pathetic. Donald Trump was the adult who said, "you know what, Bill, we can't have any more milkshakes. Something happened here and we have to behave like adults and you have to be punished, I'm not coming on."