Holy cow, folks. This quote came from an exchange on Twitter earlier this week, and I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around it. I know that the instinct is to just shake your head and say, “that’s Fox News for ya,” but this unhinged conspiracy theory is emanating from the top of their news division—and Fox News does actually traffic in journalism sometimes. John Roberts is supposed to be part of the real news crew over on bullshit mountain, but his credibility as Fox News’ Chief White House correspondent took a major hit with this argument that he willingly put forth.
It all began with Barack Obama’s former National Security Council Spokesman, Tommy Vietor, subtweeting Fox News over yet another line of questioning focusing on Hillary Clinton. Fun fact: you’d never know this from Fox News’ coverage, but she actually is not president. Weird, right?
This angered Roberts, and we were off to the races.
And here is where this veers away from a substantive debate, as John Roberts removed his mask to reveal the rot hidden inside of Fox News. “Shadow president” is a phrase you expect to hear out of Infowars, not someone trusted with questioning the most powerful man in the world.
If this wasn't weird enough, all of a sudden Roberts brought up British politics—as if that was some sort of Trump card (sorry, I had to) that would prove his point.
I know that Fox News is an alternate reality that exists solely to tell old, pissed-off white Americans that all their grievances are true and “those” people are to blame for their misery, but the word “news” still has meaning. Fox News has capital-J journalists like Chris Wallace and Shepard Smith, but their good work is constantly betrayed by the network—although usually it comes from the opinion shows that are simply an extension of the White House Communications office, not their Chief White House Correspondent.
Whatever he meant by it, Roberts’ framing of Hillary Clinton as a “shadow president” confirms every conspiracy theory that Fox News’ most unhinged viewers want to believe. He is the Chief White House Correspondent for one of the largest media outlets in the world, and he apparently has no problem openly winking towards whackjob conspiracy theories. If one of the more responsible members of Fox News adheres to this lunatic bullshit out in public, just imagine what the rest of that tire fire of a network believes.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.