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Trump And Fox News

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

President Trump and Fox News on the verge of a breakup? President's been tweeting against Fox News Channel coverage and personalities recently, saying, quote, "we have to start looking for a new news outlet. Fox isn't working for us anymore." Thursday night, Fox host Neil Cavuto said, well, that's the point.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NEIL CAVUTO: First of all, Mr. President, we don't work for you. I don't work for you. My job is to cover you, not fawn over you or rip you, just report on you.

SIMON: We're joined now by Carl Cameron. He was the first Capitol Hill correspondent for Fox News and became the channel's chief political correspondent. He retired from Fox in 2017 and is now a founder of Front Page Live, a news aggregator site. Thanks so much for being with us.

CARL CAMERON: Thanks, Scott. It's a huge pleasure. I'm really appreciative.

SIMON: Well, you were always cited as one of the exceptions on FOX - a reporter, not a partisan, unlike some of the hosts. What do you think is going on when Neil Cavuto starts criticizing President Trump?

CAMERON: I think that it's a natural response by the journalists. It helps Fox's reputation having been bashed, rightfully so, on the entertainment side for the opinion mavens who often trade in the same sorts of falsehoods and memes, tropes and otherwise disinformation that is the real fake news, as opposed to what happens in news divisions. And Trump's attempt to threaten Fox by saying that his people, meaning his base, need to find another news outlet, good luck with that. And frankly, it's good to see the news department of Fox News calling Trump out and not being bullied.

SIMON: Has there been that tension for some time in Fox News between what I'll call news people and opinion people?

CAMERON: Absolutely. There were times in the past when the likes of Bill O'Reilly would get into a row with Brit Hume on Bill O'Reilly's show because Mr. O'Reilly was trading in opinion, and Mr. Hume chose to tell people what the actual facts of the story were. And that was not an uncommon situation with a lot of us who were on the air, and we're not on a lot of those talk shows anymore.

SIMON: Was it uncomfortable to work there, may I ask?

CAMERON: Well, the Trump campaign made it excruciatingly uncomfortable because he was fostering the kind of anger and often violence in his rallies, and some of it was directed at me as well just because of being part of the media. And to hear some of the people on the network you're broadcasting from talking about how great he is when he's doing things - or promising, at that point, things - that simply aren't possible - reference the wall that has not been built.

SIMON: Republicans, sometimes when they decline to run for reelection in Congress, will begin to ask how did Donald Trump take over the Republican Party. How was it that Donald Trump, if I might put it this way, seemed to take over Fox News?

CAMERON: Ratings. Scott, it's not public radio; it's a commercial business industry. And the problem with that is ratings equal revenue, and revenue is what matters to the people at the highest levels of the corporation. And when it works, they stick with it. And that's really unfortunate.

SIMON: Does tying yourself to Donald Trump become a good business plan when his approval rating is so low?

CAMERON: No, it doesn't help. And I would argue, too, that there are occasions when sitting presidents have been unseated. And in every single instance, it's when there are members of that president's party who were disaffected by his performance. And there are Republicans out there who are getting increasingly worried. We're seeing it in resignations and departures from within the administration. We're seeing it within the Republican Party with people who are resigning or deciding to leave the party. And those voices are louder. And if the leaders and the people who are actually engaged in the business of politics are abandoning it, think about what the average voter is thinking about.

This is bad for Trump. It's good for the country. And who knows what happens, whether it's good or bad, for the ratings of any other cable network.

SIMON: Carl Cameron, now of Front Page Live. Thanks so much for being with us.

CAMERON: A great pleasure, Scott. Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.