Doocy’s Attack on VP Kamala Harris Was Outrageous


Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy crossed the invisible line that his employer insists exists when he attacked Vice President Kamala Harris over the departure of senior adviser Symone Sanders.

To quote Jen Psaki, some of you may be saying “No you-know-what, Sherlock!”

You may be thinking that Doocy is a habitual line-stepper whose existence is mainly devoted to asking bad faith questions, making false or dubious assertions, and feeding a voracious viewership their daily helpings of anti-you-name-it read meat, and so why would anything be worth remarking upon at this point?

All of those things are true, but this attack was a bit different. At Thursday’s briefing, Doocy asked about Ms. Sanders’ departure by including a suggestion whose only purpose was to denigrate the VP.

“Is the vice president not satisfied with the staffing that she has had so far? Or do people just not want to work for her anymore?” Doocy said.

It was a completely baseless suggestion, as well, as Symone Sanders has been a particularly loyal and strong advocate for Harris. Nothing in the reporting on Sanders’ departure supports it.

But that wasn’t the point, and everyone knows it. That knowledge is conveyed with Doocy’s every smirk after a loaded or otherwise duplicitous question. It’s a smirk that makes fools of the colleagues who surround him, who play along with the fiction that there’s some force field between Fox News “opinion” and Fox News “news.”

They’ll leap to his defense, or Fox’s, at any perceived slight, which is why Psaki can be forgiven her failure to gasp and curse Doocy out on the spot. She can be forgiven the jokey repartee that weaves through their theatrical exchanges.

When I interviewed Psaki, she made it pretty clear how she feels about Fox and Doocy, but a feud with Fox is a distraction that she cunningly avoids. President Joe Biden has occasionally taken the bait, and elevated Doocy in the process. But Psaki has developed the perfect offense against Fox News and Doocy: a very good defense, manifested in nimble and often cutting parries.

The prevailing attitude seems to be “Doocy gonna Dooce” and so you just deal with it. As satisfying as another approach might be, I can see the wisdom in it. And it results in very popular content.

The reason Doocy matters is that his colleagues don’t just fall for his Fox “hard news” act, they routinely follow his lead, and that of other Fox News reporters pushing genuinely harmful themes. I recently surprised one of my editors for submitting Doocy as the Most Influential Person in Media this year, and it’s because a lazy and dim press corps takes all of their cues from him. To some, he even seems to be some kind of a folk hero.

That’s very bad news for the American people, because no matter how nimbly Psaki handles all of this, these are the people responsible for shaping the views of the American people, and they are being led around by someone who is not in the same profession they are.

That’s what made Doocy’s attack on the vice president so outrageous. It was nakedly an attack to satisfy a viewership with a bloodthirsty hatred for VP Harris, it had no news value, and it went un-remarked-upon by any of his colleagues.

If any reporter had made a comment like that about Vice President Mike Pence, even a fiercely adversarial one like CNN’s Jim Acosta, he would have faced a blizzard of rebuke, and not just from Fox News. And he would have deserved it. As Doocy demonstrated with his later questions, you can be tough and adversarial without resorting to personal attack.

But Doocy, who wears the thin cloak of the “hard news” profession, doesn’t merit so much as a raised eyebrow.

Fox News can pretend there’s a difference between their news and opinion talent, and Psaki can entertain the pretense to the extent that necessity dictates, but the rest of the media should stop playing along with this charade and give Doocy the shunning he deserves.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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