Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott rounded up her producers for an unusual meeting last week, warning them to keep their hosts and panelists in line as the news shows shed advertisers due to controversial remarks said on air.
According to a Wednesday Politico report, Scott told them that they would be culpable for any damaging remark said by hosts or guests on the network’s shows: “You are responsible for protecting the talent, protecting the brand,” she said.
Scott reportedly particularly homed in on Fox News’ coverage of the immigration crisis at the border, going so far as to say that all material on immigrant children should be scripted and reviewed beforehand.
Scott tasked her producers with immediately calling out and reigning in hosts when an offensive comment is made on air, directing them to tell the host to walk back the statement via their earpiece.
Though sources told Politico that the meeting is out of the ordinary and that they are not aware of a similar one taking place before, Fox News spokespeople insist that it’s business as usual.
“As the CEO of the network, Suzanne Scott regularly leads executive and editorial meetings and she expects accountability from her senior staff, which is what all good leaders do,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
Fox News has been targeted with advertiser boycotts of late, sparked by incidents like host Laura Ingraham comparing children’s immigrant detention facilities to “summer camps,” guest Ann Coulter calling the immigrant children “child actors,” and guest Corey Lewandowski saying “womp, womp” in response to the news that a young child with Down syndrome was wrested from her mother.
The hosts—Steve Hilton and Sandra Smith, respectively—let both Coulter and Lewandowski’s remarks go unchallenged on air.
But as one former producer pointed out to Politico, where does a news channel that thrives off of controversial and politically incorrect comments draw the line?
“The management hired these people knowing full well what they’re doing and then pretend after the fact,” the former producer said. “‘Why would they say these things? How could it possibly happen?’ What do you mean, how could it happen? You hired this person because they say crazy things.”
“What’s inappropriate?” the former producer added. “What’s not?