When Monday morning’s episode of Fox & Friends began at 6 a.m., hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, and Brian Kilmeade were focused on one thing. “There is speculation mounting as we await the first indictment of the special counsel on Robert Mueller's Russia probe. We expect it today,” said Kilmeade. “Today, not tonight,” emphasized Earhardt. “It is an announcement that could be made today.”
Around 8 a.m., the announcement finally broke. “All right. We’ve got a Fox News alert,” said Steve Doocy. “We finally have a name.”
Two names, actually. “Moments ago, there were reports coming out of multiple news organizations that it is going to be former campaign manager Paul Manafort and a business associate of his, Rick Gates,” Doocy continued. “That is not confirmed by us yet, but it is certainly out there. And this is going to be a significant development if it is true, because it tells us where this investigation and this special counsel is headed.” After briefly establishing the facts, the Fox & Friends crew reverted to their standard roles as enthusiastic lickspittles for President Trump.
The three hosts moved quickly to begin neutralizing any and all criticisms that might be lobbed Trump’s way as a result of the Manafort indictment. “Evidently the report goes on to say the FBI probe is looking into 13 suspicious wire transfers. As we mentioned even before the show started, and the big question we seemed to be zeroing in on, did this even happen, did any of this activity happen during his months with President Trump?” asked Kilmeade.
“[Manafort] was under investigation for violations of federal tax law and money laundering. and then not disclosing his foreign transactions as a lobbyist,” said Earhardt.
“The two of them set up a firm … Manafort's firm set up in Cyprus to receive payments,” said Doocy, fumbling for the right words to use to properly exonerate the president. (Don’t worry, he eventually found them!) “I mean, we’ve heard about Ukraine, and we’ve heard about other business dealings in Eastern Europe, but we had not heard about Cyprus. So given the fact that Paul Manafort has dealt internationally for decades, probably a pretty good opportunity this was a while back.”
“We interviewed Jonathan Turley, who’s a constitutional law professor, and he was talking about the leaking. The leaker could also be in trouble here,” said Earhardt. Doocy then went on to revisit the Clinton campaign and the DNC’s role in helping to fund the Fusion GPS research, and to amplify President Trump’s choleric “DO SOMETHING” tweets from over the weekend.
“Keep in mind, and I just keep saying this,” said Kilmeade. “Just because you’re indicted, doesn’t mean you’re guilty of anything. Then you have a chance to find out what they have and to mount a defense. You stop being—now you can start defending yourself.”
Good old Fox & Friends. Not even 15 minutes had passed since the Manafort news had been confirmed, and the three hosts had already found ways to bring the story back to Hillary Clinton; repeatedly imply that Manafort’s indictment had nothing whatsoever to do with his work on the Trump campaign; recite several Trump tweets verbatim without comment or analysis; play a video clip in which Kellyanne Conway cast aspersions on the press and Washington Democrats; reiterate there was “no evidence of collusion so far” between the Trump campaign and Russia; gratuitously insult Rep. Adam Schiff; suggest that the people who prematurely leaked the Manafort news to the media were the real crooks; and make it seem like Paul Manafort’s indictment was a welcome and necessary first step on the road to his eventual exoneration.
After going to a commercial break, the three hosts welcomed guest Sara Carter, a reporter for Circa. Carter has been a ubiquitous face on Fox News recently, ever since she and John Solomon of the Hill revived the long-dormant Uranium One story. “In addition to Mr. Manafort, apparently, Sara, Rick Gates, a former business associate, told to surrender today,” said Doocy. “Does this suggest to you that they’re looking into things Manafort did when he was campaign manager? Or things he and Mr. Gates did years ago?”
“Oh, I think this certainly suggests that they were looking into things they did years ago,” said Carter.
Great! With that settled, Fox & Friends changed the topic to something more suitable for a light-hearted morning show: candy.
“Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups is the most popular Halloween candy, according to a survey,” said Kilmeade during a “News by the Numbers” segment. “Reese’s miniatures and Twix rounding out the top three.”