Joe Biden’s press conference and the Fox “news side” racket – By Matt Gertz (Media Matters) / July 1 2020
At a press conference Tuesday, Fox News correspondent Douglas McKelway told presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden that “some have speculated” he is experiencing “cognitive decline” and asked if the former vice president had been tested for it. Biden replied that he is “constantly tested,” adding, “I can hardly wait to compare my cognitive capability to the cognitive capability of the man I’m running against.”
Who are the anonymous “some” whose speculation led to McKelway’s question? One clue comes from his colleague Sean Hannity’s prime-time program. On Monday, Hannity alleged that Biden “can barely string two sentences together” and challenged the “mob and the media” to ask whether Biden has dementia. On Tuesday, at least seven different Fox programs covered the “cognitive decline” exchange at the presser, including Hannity, who lauded McKelway’s question and demanded that other reporters follow up on it.
This is Fox’s “news side” racket in miniature. Fox executives frequently try to defray the controversies created by the bigoted right-wing propagandists on its “opinion side” by talking up the purportedly credible reporting of its “news side.” But as the McKelway case demonstrates, the network’s reportorial corps largely exists to advance the stories its demagogues are obsessed with. From Uranium One, to Benghazi, to the migrant caravans, to the purported Justice Department conspiracy against President Donald Trump, to the president’s dealings with Ukraine, the “news” personnel find ways to fuel the “opinion” hosts’ efforts to bolster Republican politicians. Trump’s reelection campaign makes this pattern all the more acute because Fox has effectively merged with his White House over the course of his presidency, with star hosts like Hannity playing dual roles advising the president on policy and communications strategy.
Here’s how the racket’s been working with the Biden “cognitive decline” smear.