MSNBC’s Alex Wagner asked White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre Thursday if the Biden administration considers Fox News a news organization. That prompted a thoughtful response, at least at first. (Watch the video below.)
But the analysis gave way to a light exchange in which Wagner concluded with a wry smile: “So, I’m gonna say that sort of sounds like the White House doesn’t think Fox is a news organization, but we gotta leave it there.” Both laughed.
Wagner had mentioned Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s “whitewashing” of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection ― most recently through cherry-picked Capitol security video showing mundane moments during the attack. She showed President Joe Biden’s firm response to the conservative dismissal of events, noting that 140 officers were injured in insurrectionist violence that Carlson and some extremist Republicans are trying to downplay as innocent tourism.
“Does the White House consider Fox News a news organization?” Wagner asked Jean-Pierre.
Jean-Pierre replied that court depositions show that even Fox News does “not see Tucker Carlson’s show as news or even truthful. That is coming from the Fox leadership, that’s not coming from me. That is coming from them.”
A judge, in a 2020 defamation ruling siding with Fox News, ruled the “general tenor” of Carlson’s show should signal to viewers that the TV personality “is not ‘stating actual facts’ about the topics he discusses and is instead engaging in ‘exaggeration’ and ‘non-literal commentary.’” Viewers should be skeptical, the judge added.
Documents released in Dominion Voting Systems’ ongoing defamation suit against Fox News seem to reinforce that point, showing that Carlson and other prime time personalities privately mocked Donald Trump’s 2020 election lies while promoting them on TV.
As for the legitimacy of Carlson’s latest round of denying the severity of the Capitol siege, Jean-Pierre said:
“It was an attack on democracy. It was an attack on our Constitution and you cannot whitewash that. Tucker Carlson cannot whitewash that. Anyone who doesn’t see with their own eyes what occurred cannot whitewash that. And so, the president’s going to stand with the police officers, he’s going to stand for truth. And clearly, that is not what Tucker Carlson believes in.”
That’s when Wagner attempted to sum up Jean-Pierre’s reply, with the two sharing giggles at the MSNBC host’s conclusion.