Here are 4 political wild cards on Fox News who have actually stood up to GOP propaganda
One of the most Orwellian mottos in the history of cable news is undoubtedly “fair and balanced,” which was Fox News’ motto until 2017 (when it was replaced with “most watched, most trusted”). Clearly slanted to the far right, Fox News was never known for its fairness or its balance. A more honest motto for Fox News would be “all conservative all the time.” But in one sense, Fox News has been as unfair to conservatives as it has been to liberals and progressives: it tends to dictate how they should think.
Realistically, no one expects Fox News to treat liberals and progressives—or even centrists—fairly. That isn’t their market or their audience. But the most frustrating thing of all is Fox News’ expectation that conservatives think a certain way. During the George W. Bush years, right-wingers who were critical of the Bush administration were routinely demonized at Fox News (former Rep. Ron Paul, for example). And in the Donald Trump era, the vast majority of coverage at Fox News is overtly pro-Trump.
Nonetheless, Fox News will, on occasion, feature some people on the right who are genuinely analytical and don’t simply recite official Republican Party talking points. Here are some of the less dogmatic right-wing voices at the cable news outlet.
1. Chris Wallace
Republicans who appear on Fox News typically receive softball questions from most of the employees, but a major exception is Chris Wallace (the 71-year-old son of the late Mike Wallace). Wallace can be a combative interviewer, and Stephen Miller (a Trump senior advisor) got a first-hand demonstration of that this month when Wallace grilled him unmercifully about Trump’s emergency declaration on the U.S./Mexico border. And Wallace was no less combative with AM talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, calling him out on Feb. 17 for giving Trump a pass on executive orders despite having repeatedly lambasted President Barack Obama for executive overreach.
Wallace told Limbaugh, “I understand that you like what President Trump is doing, and you didn’t like what President Obama was doing. And that’s the concern here, is that to the degree you give the president more and more powers—yes, you’re going to get things from one president you like, but you’re going to get executive powers from another president that you don’t like.”
2. Judge Andrew Napolitano
During George W. Bush’s years as president, Fox News’ coverage was overtly favorable to the Patriot Act and other post-9/11 legislation. But unlike Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Judge Andrew Napolitano was never a robotic mouthpiece for the Bush Administration. Napolitano, a libertarian, considered the Patriot Act unconstitutional, and philosophically, he had a lot more in common with Ron Paul or 2012/2016 Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson than he did with former Vice President Dick Cheney.
In the Trump era, Napolitano has continued to serve as a legal analyst for Fox News, and the contrast between Hannity and Napolitano can be shocking. Hannity, a Trump sycophant, has jumped through hoops to defend Trump’s decision to make an emergency declaration to force funding of a U.S./Mexico border wall. But Napolitano, in contrast, considers the move unconstitutional.
When the judge appeared on “Fox and Friends” on January 8, he explained that an “emergency declaration allows him to mobilize assets, but it doesn’t allow him to take or occupy property. And it doesn’t allow him to spend money that Congress hasn’t authorized.” Napolitano has also asserted that bypassing Congress to fund a border wall is not the action of a president, but a “prince.”
3. Lisa Kennedy Montgomery
Gen-Xers still think of Lisa Kennedy Montgomery as “Kennedy from MTV”: back in the 1990s, she was an MTV veejay. But these days, the 46-year-old Montgomery is primarily focused on politics—and she is more likely to comment on Robert Mueller’s Russia probe or GOP tax policy than on Pearl Jam, Courtney Love or the Stone Temple Pilots. Politically, Montgomery is definitely right of center. But despite being a registered Republican, Montgomery has a lot more in common with the Libertarian Party than she does with Hannity. Montgomery is pro-choice on the abortion issue, supports same-sex marriage, dislikes the Christian Right and opposes the War on Drugs. But Montgomery (who hosts “Kennedy Nation” on the Fox Business Channel and often appears on Fox News’ “Outnumbered”) is also a hardcore fiscal conservative who opposes universal health care, calls Seattle a “socialist hellhole” and favors privatizing Social Security and Medicare—or, as liberals and progressives accurately call it, letting banksters bleed those programs dry.
4. Shepard Smith
Shepard Smith infuriated his most buffoonish colleague at Fox News, Sean Hannity, when, in 2017, he debunked the Uranium One/Hillary Clinton conspiracy theory that Hannity and President Trump were happy to promote. According to the theory, Clinton was bribed to approve the merger of the mining company, Uranium One, and the Russian nuclear energy organization Rosatom when she was secretary of state under President Barack Obama. The bribes, conspiracy theorists claimed, included $145 million to the Clinton Foundation. But Smith totally tore apart this conspiracizing — noting that the FBI, after an extensive investigation, found that there was no evidence of bribery. Further, Smith noted, Clinton didn’t personally approve the merger herself.
“The Clinton State Department had no power to approve or veto that transaction,” Smith noted. “It could do neither.”
The backlash against Smith was swift, with some Fox News viewers asserting that he belonged at MSNBC or CNN instead. And in an interview with Time Magazine’s Daniel D’Addario, Smith distanced himself from Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson and other “opinion programming” at Fox News.
Smith told D’Addario, “I get it that some of our opinion programming is there strictly to be entertaining. I get that. I don’t work there.” And Hannity was furious, describing Smith as “clueless” and “anti-Trump.”