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Fox News stirs outrage after labeling Biden a ‘wannabe dictator.’ The network says it ‘addressed’ the situation

<i>Mike Segar/Reuters</i><br/>
Mike Segar/Reuters

By Allison Morrow, CNN

New York (CNN) — Fox News on Wednesday acknowledged that an onscreen banner calling President Joe Biden a “wannabe dictator” was inappropriate and said it had taken steps to address the situation internally.

“The chyron was taken down immediately and was addressed,” a Fox News spokesperson told CNN in a statement. Fox declined to elaborate on how the issue was being addressed.

The right-wing network came under fire over the news banner, known as a chyron (pronounced KAI-ron), which appeared briefly under a split screen of Biden and former President Donald Trump. Trump pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 37 federal counts related to alleged mishandling of classified documents.


The chyron, which aired during the 8 p.m. hour hosted by Brian Kilmeade, was shockingly dishonest, even by the standard set by Tucker Carlson, who occupied the prime-time slot before his abrupt firing in April.

Biden and his White House have repeatedly stressed that he does not involve himself in Justice Department investigations and have said that the DOJ works independently of the White House’s influence.

The White House on Wednesday declined to comment on the “wannabe dictator” chyron.

“There are probably 787 million things I can say … about what we saw last night,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, alluding to the settlement figure Fox News recently agreed to pay to settle a defamation lawsuit. “But I don’t think I’m going to get into it.”

But the chyron was hardly the only thing that set Fox apart from cable news outlets on Tuesday night. The network also took Trump’s post-arraignment speech live — something CNN and MSNBC avoided doing because of the former president’s propensity to lie.

Fox has consistently sought to downplay the severity of the charges against Trump while redirecting focus to an eight-year-old controversy about Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Or, in another of Fox’s favorite whataboutisms, hosts and commentators often attempt to equate the Trump probe with the revelation that classified documents were found in Biden’s Washington, DC, office and Wilmington, Delaware, home.

The White House initially volunteered to the National Archives that the documents had been found at the Washington office and subsequent searches of Biden’s home found additional documents. A special counsel has been appointed in that case as well and Biden has pledged to cooperate with the investigation.

Fox has sought to placate its overwhelmingly pro-Trump audience as it faces serious threats to its business on multiple fronts.

The network had already lost advertisers, particularly in prime time, over racist and antisemitic rants from Carlson before his firing. The network narrowly avoided a defamation trial this spring by agreeing to settle a lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems for $787 million. But Fox is fighting another defamation case from Smartmatic, another voting technology company, which is seeking a staggering $2.7 billion in damages.

And for the first time in Fox News’ history, it has real competition from its right flank. Pro-Trump outlets OAN and Newsmax have emerged in the last few years, stirring fear among Fox executives and hosts that disappointing its audience could push them to change the channel.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - Business/Consumer

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