By:
January 19, 2021

Fox News has stepped in it again.

At this perilous time when we are all looking for the temperature to be lowered in this country, Fox News is letting one of its conspiracy theorists take its new opinion show out for a spin.

Maria Bartiromo, who blew up her reputation as a respected business journalist by going all-in on election fraud and her support of the president, will soon be getting the keys to Fox News’ new 7 p.m. Eastern opinion show — at least for a few days.

It’s a disturbing development considering we just saw a mob attack the Capitol, trying to overturn an election that they’ve wrongly been told was rigged in favor of Joe Biden. While it’s true that Donald Trump is the most vocal about a stolen election, he has had help from those in the media. That includes Bartiromo, whose sycophantic interviews with the president helped fan the anger of a riot that raged out of control less than two weeks ago at the Capitol.

Let’s review.

Fox News kicked off its new daytime lineup on Monday. The most notable change, as I wrote about last week, is a new opinion show — “Fox News Primetime” — at 7 p.m. Eastern. The show, for now, is having a rotation of guest hosts. “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade is up first. The Los Angeles Times’ Stephen Battaglio reports Kilmeade will be followed by Bartiromo and then regular contributors to the network: Katie Pavlich, Rachel Campos-Duffy, Mark Steyn and former congressman Trey Gowdy.

Why Bartiromo?

Not only did she hand Trump a megaphone to amplify his baseless allegations of election fraud, she has joined him in his outrage. In addition to her embarrassing interviews with Trump, Bartiromo also had Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell on her show to float their ridiculous theories about the election.

Bartiromo has been more than a Trump enabler. She has helped to whip up outrage among Trump supporters who believe the election was rigged. As Battaglio wrote, “Bartiromo was among the Fox News hosts forced to air a fact check disputing many of the president’s lawyers’ claims about voting software company Smartmatic, falsely stating it was involved in delivering Trump votes to Biden.”

Following the deadly insurrection at the Capitol, you would hope that this would be a time to tone down the political rhetoric. But putting Bartiromo — one of the TV personalities most responsible for feeding the public lies about the election — in the driver’s seat on an opinion program shows where Fox News’ priorities are. It also suggests that Fox News could be a little concerned about the buzz that Trump die-hards are angry with Fox News. A Trump supporter at the helm of another opinion show might be a way for Fox News to keep a grip on MAGA supporters.

It’s not known if the guest hosts are trying out to be the permanent host, but you have to think Bartiromo will get a serious look for that opening. She’s already scorched her reputation as a “journalist.” Maybe an opinion show host is all that she has left.

For now, Bartiromo continues to be morning anchor on Fox Business and the host of “Sunday Morning Futures” on Fox News. As Variety’s Brian Steinberg writes, “A new job as an opinion host may give the former CNBC veteran room to offer her thoughts without being questioned like a news-side colleague such as Neil Cavuto or Bill Hemmer might.”

Let’s just hope that her future opinions are based more on reality than her reckless claims about the election.

Worth noting

Speaking of Fox News’ new daytime lineup, Washington Post media writer Jeremy Barr tweeted, “On the debut episode of her new afternoon news show, Martha MacCallum has as a guest Alex Berenson, who says that masks have made ‘absolutely zero difference.’”

Even worse than we thought

Violent protesters, loyal to President Donald Trump, storm the Capitol on Jan. 6. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Each day, more and more frightening stories come out about what happened during the insurrection at the Capitol. As we horrifyingly watched it happen in real time, we knew it was bad.

We just didn’t know how bad.

Now we’re finding out more. And it’s beyond troubling. This video from The New Yorker is absolutely chilling. It’s disturbing, but critically important to watch.

There’s more. The Washington Post’s Dalton Bennett, Emma Brown, Sarah Cahlan, Joyce Sohyun Lee, Meg Kelly, Elyse Samuels and Jon Swaine have stunning video and excellent perspective in “41 Minutes of Fear: A Video Timeline from Inside the Capitol Siege.”

There’s also this superb work from ProPublica’s Lena V. Groeger, Jeff Kao, Al Shaw, Moiz Syed and Maya Eliahou and many other contributors with “What Parler Saw During the Attack on the Capitol.”

All of it is horrific.

Too late

Today is President Trump’s final full day in office. Now it’s time for the transition. Peaceful?

Well, here’s how CNN’s Jake Tapper started his show on Monday:

“We have long since passed a ‘peaceful transition of power.’ There are dead bodies as the result of the president’s deranged belief that he won the election that he lost and the conspiracy theories that he and his enablers on Capitol Hill and in MAGA media continue to propagate.”

Speaking of Tapper, the CNN host blistered Fox News hosts for perpetuating what he called “the big lie” that the election was stolen from Trump. (Hat tip to Mediaite’s Colby Hall for posting the clip.)

Yes, Tapper works for CNN and CNN is a rival of Fox News. You might even call them bitter rivals as both networks take shots at one another fairly regularly. But Tapper backed up his criticism with a video clip that showed Fox News personalities such as Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Laura Ingraham and Pete Hegseth talking about election fraud. He also pointed out that MAGA media, such as Fox News, often had guests like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on to spread lies about the election.

Tapper said, “Where do people like that go to share the big lie? MAGA media. MAGA media, where hosts not only didn’t push back on the big lie, they also participated in it. It was a joint effort by the Trump team and MAGA media, and millions, millions heard lies about election fraud day after day.”

Swan’s song

Looking for a good podcast? Check out Axios’ Jonathan Swan with “How It Happened.” It goes into details about the final days of the Trump presidency.

In addition, check out Axios’ “Off the Rails” series, which is described as taking readers “inside the collapse of a president.” The series is written by Swan, with writing, reporting and research assistance by Zach Basu.

Talking to the Speaker

Joy Reid will have an exclusive interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that will air tonight on MSNBC at 10 p.m. Eastern. The hourlong special, called “The Speaker: One-on-One,” will focus on national security as law enforcement prepares for Wednesday’s inauguration. Pelosi also will discuss COVID-19 and the impeachment of Donald Trump.

Barbaro’s statement

Michael Barbaro, host of The New York Times’ “The Daily” podcast. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Michael Barbaro, host of The New York Times’ popular podcast “The Daily,” has issued an apology for his role in the fallout of criticism over the Times’ “Caliphate” audio series. The Times has acknowledged that its podcast about the Islamic State partly relied on a source who is now believed to have been a fabricator. In the aftermath, one of the criticisms is that Barbaro reached out to several media writers, pressuring them to tone down their criticisms of “Caliphate.”

Over the weekend, Barbaro tweeted out this statement that started out by saying, “On The Daily, we strive to hold people accountable. Today, I need to hold myself accountable.”

Barbaro acknowledged that he reached out to media writers and blocked some people on Twitter who criticized “Caliphate.” Barbaro wrote, “I should not have done either. At a moment when I should have been open to examining our shortcomings and hearing out those who had concerns, I failed. I am sorry.”

Barbaro went on to write that his actions did not reflect the values of all those who work on “The Daily.”

“‘The Daily’ is about listening and trust,” he wrote. “I am deeply committed to both. And I will work to do better.”

The future of The Chicago Reporter

As The Nation’s Laura S. Washington writes, “You may never have heard of The Chicago Reporter. But Chicago — and the nation — have long felt its impact.”

The Chicago Reporter describes itself as playing a “critical role in the city and nation by focusing the power of investigative reporting on issues of inequality that rarely receive thorough and regular examination by mainstream media organizations. Our core areas of coverage are criminal justice, affordable housing and economic development, jobs and transportation.”

“Yet now,” Washington writes, “as we engage in a national reckoning on race, spurred by police shootings of Black men and women and community protests, the Reporter faces an existential threat from the Community Renewal Society (CRS), the United Church of Christ–affiliated agency that publishes it. If the city’s civic leaders don’t start asking tough questions about recent managerial decisions, the Reporter could face extinction—just when its unique voice is most needed.”

Washington, who is a Chicago Sun-Times columnist, reports that more than 130 Reporter alumni signed on to a campaign to “Save the Chicago Reporter.” Washington adds, “At stake are the Reporter’s editorial independence and its historic, and still badly needed, in-depth reporting and data analysis.”

Washington’s piece details not only the Reporter’s rich history, but some of the issues that are causing concern. Front and center, Washington reports, “CRS executive director, the Rev. Waltrina N. Middleton, put the Reporter ‘on indefinite hiatus,’ removed its editor and publisher, and announced that it would ‘restructure’ the iconic publication.”

The publication was shut down in September. It’s back up again, but major concerns remain. Again, check out Washington’s story. It shines a light on a critical topic.

Interview of the day

“CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell, right, interviews Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) at the Capitol. (Courtesy: CBS News)

“CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell had an exclusive interview with Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), the two lawmakers in charge of Wednesday’s inauguration. The conversation centered on security concerns following the insurrection that took place exactly two weeks before the expected inauguration.

Blunt told O’Donnell, “I think we’re going to project exactly the message we want to at this very spot, where so many bad things happened two weeks ago. I think the world’s going to see our constitution and the democracy of our country work.”

Blunt said he was “disappointed” that Trump is not attending the inauguration and also said no one who has been arrested for storming the Capitol should be pardoned.

You don’t want it? I’ll take it.

Less than two weeks after Simon & Schuster dropped his book, Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley has found a new publisher. Regnery Publishing announced it has picked up Hawley’s “The Tyranny of Big Tech.”

Simon & Schuster dropped Hawley following Hawley’s objection to certifying Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory — which happened on the same day that Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. But in a statement to The New York Times’ Jenny Gross, Regnery president and publisher Thomas Spence said he was proud to publish Hawley’s book and “the warning in his book about censorship obviously couldn’t be more urgent.”

Media thoughts that popped into my head

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, left, plays with his children as Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback Tom Brady speaks with Brittany Brees after an NFL playoff game on Sunday. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

  • One of my favorite videos in a while: future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Tom Brady and Drew Brees sharing a few moments together after Brady’s Tampa Bay Bucs defeated Brees’ New Orleans Saints in the playoffs on Sunday. Brady throwing a football to Brees’ son? That’s the good stuff.
  • Can we just stop for a second and realize this moment in history? We are on the cusp of the inauguration of an incoming president and the possible impeachment conviction of the outgoing one. And it’s all happening during a global pandemic that is coming up on a year. As we try to just get to the next sunrise, we sometimes just have to say this stuff out loud to realize the magnitude of what we’re living through.
  • One of the more notable insurrectionists at the Capitol was Olympic gold-medal swimmer Klete Keller. How did he end up there? There are two must-read stories about him by three of the best sports reporters in the business. The New York Times’ Karen Crouse has “‘I Let You Down’: Klete Keller’s Path From Olympics to Capitol Riot.” And The Washington Post’s Dave Sheinin and Rick Maese with “From Olympic Medalist to Capitol Rioter: The Fall of Klete Keller.” Both works are outstanding.

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Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at tjones@poynter.org.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for Poynter.org. He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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