Fox News Savaged Obama For Criticizing His Successor. They Love Trump Bashing Biden.
The situational ethics of Fox News hosts appears to be in full bloom, just days after former President Donald Trump made what some are lauding as a triumphant return to the political stage by giving a rousing, red-meat speech to close CPAC on Sunday.
Trump went off on President Joe Biden and the job he has done in the six or so weeks since he was inaugurated, in a bitter political speech that could have been given in October 2020 during the last weeks of the election. The only significant departure from his stump speech was the post-election talking point that the election was stolen, a dangerous lie that fueled a deadly Capitol insurrection by Trump supporters convinced that the democratic process was unjust.
It has not yet even been 48 hours since Trump’s CPAC speech, but early coverage on Fox News indicates a stubborn unwillingness to correct the record of a stolen election. There is also another rather remarkable distinction between how they are covering former President Trump’s political comments to those made by his predecessor, President Barack Obama, following the end of his second term — and the beginning of Trump’s first.
The standard operating procedure for former presidents is to exit the national political stage and allow the new president the full spotlight, for better and worse. It’s a time-honored tradition that every former president has followed (for the most part) in the modern media age, but it appears that this is yet another decorum that Trump is eager to flout.
Trump’s CPAC speech was filled with familiar harangues about the Biden administration in what felt like half a stump speech and half taking the reins of a still-undefined Republican party, of which Trump is very much in control.
CPAC attendees and Fox News opinion personalities ate it up, at least as evidenced by the opinion shows that followed Sunday night and into Monday morning. But not once did anyone complain about the shattering of ex-presidential norms on display. And guess what? Many of these people took a very different point of view during Trump’s first couple of years.
While Obama was largely criticized by the left for not speaking out more, then later by conservatives for his late endorsement of his former Vice President Biden’s run for office, pretty much any time Obama even whispered anything about the previous administration it led to predictable critiques from Fox News personalities.
Virtually anyone who took note of Fox News coverage over the past four years is well aware that Obama was often criticized for saying or doing anything that appeared to counter Trump. Need an example? In late 2017, Sean Hannity said that Obama was sick, pathetic, and twisted for his obsession with Trump.
“The former president is obviously sick, pathetic, and twisted in this obsession with President Trump. It’s kind of like everyone in the media,” Hannity said. “Every single chance Obama gets, whether it be here or at home, overseas it doesn’t matter, he’s trashing, trying to undermine the president. Maybe he can’t get over the fact that his record was atrocious. Maybe he needs to take his own advice and accept the results of the election.”
Obama largely kept his political powder dry, but as the 2020 general election neared, he became a far more vocal critic of President Trump, in particular his handling of coronavirus pandemic. During a call with former members of his administration. Obama called out the Trump administration’s bungled response to Covid-19.
“It would have been bad even with the best of governments,” Obama said May 8. “It has been an absolute chaotic disaster.”
This was tweeted on May 10: “Barack Hussain Obama is the first Ex-President to ever speak against his successor, which was long (a) tradition of decorum and decency.” Trump quote-tweeted and added, “He got caught, OBAMAGATE!”
There are countless other examples, but not as many as one may expect. You know why? Because Obama largely stayed out of the public political spotlight after he left office in January of 2017. And that’s not a party trait, former President George w. Bush extended the same courtesy to Obama that was afforded to him by former President Bill Clinton. It’s how former presidents used to roll and part of the “peaceful transition of power” etiquette that has truly been exceptionally American.
It comes as little surprise that Trump would put his own fund-raising and power-grabbing efforts ahead of such a genteel tradition of gracefully letting someone else grab the spotlight. And it’s also not at all surprising that sycophantic Fox News hosts are eager to celebrate every single word that comes out of their dear leader’s mouth.
Yet another standard of decency falls prey to Trump’s self-promotion. And Fox News hosts are cravenly cheering it on.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.