News like the indictment of the former campaign head of the president of the United States is typically treated by outlets as an all-hands-on-deck effort, demanding the attention of the full newsroom to get the story to readers and viewers. That's certainly how many outlets today are approaching the news that President Donald Trump’s former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, has been indicted on, among other charges, conspiracy against the US.
But not, apparently, Fox News, which spent the morning going back and forth from the indictment news, which broke before Fox & Friends’ third and final hour, to stories about … cheeseburger emojis.
Fox & Friends is on a commercial break right now, but here is what they were discussing a few minutes ago. pic.twitter.com/gqpgtwx7XH— Marina Fang (@marinafang) October 30, 2017
This continued through Fox & Friends’ final scheduled minutes for the day, when the hosts of the show focused on an apparently controversial Newsweek op-ed that asked if all “conservative loudmouths” are Irish-American.
Fox News was of course always biased in favor of conservatives and Republicans. But under Trump, the network’s coverage has reached levels of self-parody.
For example, while Trump’s team has come under investigation, the network has been increasingly focused on Hillary Clinton, even though she lost the election and has no official power. Over the weekend, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski even referred to “the Clinton administration” — which has not existed since 2001.
Corey Lewandowski, apparently on Planet B: "What we should be focusing on is the continued lies of the Clinton administration" pic.twitter.com/FfuwfeVMCq— David Mack (@davidmackau) October 28, 2017
This stuff matters. As my colleague Dylan Matthews explained, some research has shown that Fox News has powerful sway in US elections — enough to shift elections by a few percentage points, which can swing a typical presidential election. While the researchers caution that their work is still early and more study is needed, the fact that this level of influence is considered even a remote possibility shows the amount of power that Fox has.
And it’s using that power to talk about cheeseburger emojis on a morning of huge breaking news.