When Scott Pruitt — the disgraced former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency — went on President Trump’s favorite morning show Fox and Friends, he knew exactly what was going to happen. To the word.
According to records obtained by the Sierra Club, the EPA administrator even approved part of the show’s script on at least one occasion. So it’s no wonder Pruitt was so taken aback when he was grilled by a guest host of the program last year.
The particular story uncovered by the Sierra Club reveals that in May of 2017, Fox and Friends wanted to have Pruitt on to discuss ways the EPA was helping communities “poorly served” by the Obama administration.
Producer Diana Aloi worked with then-EPA press secretary Amy Graham on “pre-interview questions on the agreed-upon topic,” and then asked the government official to approve the script that would lead in to the interview.
“Would this be okay as the setup to his segment?” asked Aloi.
“Yes — perfect,” replied Graham.
The network stuck to the government-approved script to the letter.
“Every American journalist knows that to provide scripts or articles to the government for review before publication or broadcast is a cardinal sin. It’s Journalism 101,” Fordham University journalism professor and veteran of both CBS and CNN David Hawkins told the Daily Beast. “This is worse than that. It would and should get you fired from any news organization with integrity.”
It isn’t clear if Aloi will be fired, as Fox refused to provide specifics on personnel matters.
The network said it will discipline the staffers that worked with Pruitt and “this is not standard practice whatsoever and the matter is being addressed internally with those involved.”
That’s not precisely true. This isn’t a new dimension to the relationship between the Republican Party and Fox News. The network’s broadcasters used talking points sent to them by the Bush administration in the years George W. Bush occupied the White House.
Even the language addressing the latest crisis comes from the same playbook Fox News has used for these other journalistic faux pas. The network regularly addressed matters internally, and still their relationship with the Republican Party remains in violation of the journalism industry’s norms and ethics.
It is clear that far from Fox’s statement, this behavior is exactly standard procedure — perhaps not in terms of script approval, but in terms of crossing, blurring and outright destroying the line between its journalists and the Republican Party.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.