Fox News turns to Hillary Clinton amid negative news for Trump

Bernstein: 'We are in a cold civil war'
Bernstein: 'We are in a cold civil war'

As a cloud of negative news hangs over President Donald Trump and his administration, a familiar face has been all over the airwaves on Fox News: Hillary Clinton.

The former Democratic presidential candidate, a favorite villain of the right, has been featured prominently across Fox News' programming this week.

In many cases, instead of the network's hosts applying pressure to the current President, who is grappling with the fallout from a federal investigation related to Russian election meddling, Fox News' personalities have deflected and turned their attention to Clinton. On Tuesday night, for instance, Clinton found herself a key point of discussion throughout the network's primetime lineup.

"The new rule is any contact with Russia is contact with Vladimir Putin himself and therefore treason," Tucker Carlson said to a guest at the start of a segment. "What do you make of Hillary Clinton and her husband Bill Clinton's contact with the Russians while she was secretary of state?"

Such questions about Clinton continued into the next hour, with the co-hosts of "The Five" devoting a segment to discussing a Bloomberg poll which found Clinton's favorability rating lower than Trump's.

"POLL: TRUMP MORE POPULAR THAN CLINTON," blared the chyron on the bottom of the screen.

Not to be outdone, Sean Hannity, perhaps Trump's most devoted follower on cable news, hosted an entire segment dedicated to the "Clinton scandals." He asked Jay Sekulow, an attorney for Trump, how "damning" FBI documents about the agency's probe into Clinton's private server were.

Related: Fox News' Sean Hannity calls colleague Shep Smith 'so anti-Trump'

In total, Fox News devoted more than 23 minutes to discussing Clinton throughout primetime on Tuesday, according to data compiled by Media Matters, a liberal media watchdog -- an unusual amount, given that she does not occupy public office and is not currently running for one.

The fascination with Clinton continued on Wednesday. A "Fox & Friends" segment covered the same Bloomberg poll finding that Clinton's favorability rating was two points lower than Trump's. And in an interview with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on "The Story," host Martha MacCallum asked, "Do you see any reason to re-open the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email and server?" (Fox News did back off of its Clinton coverage in primetime Wednesday as news of Sen. John McCain's cancer diagnosis and Trump's New York Times interview dominated coverage.)

The network's infatuation with Clinton hasn't been just limited to the airwaves either. Online, Clinton has found herself the subject of lead stories on the Fox News website this week.

"CLINTON'S SECRET? Hillary sided with Russia on sanctions as Bill pocketed $500G in Moscow," read a headline at the top of the network's website on Tuesday.

"RAIN, SLEET OR ELECTION TIME: Postal Service slapped for having workers boost Hillary Clinton," read another headline leading the website Wednesday.

The Clinton-centric news comes as Trump faces headlines unfavorable to him and his administration as the Russia investigation heats up and much of his agenda remains stalled in Congress. Donald Trump Jr. recently disclosed an email exchange from June 2016 in which he'd agreed to meet with someone he'd been told was a "Russian government attorney" about "very high level and sensitive information" that would "incriminate" Hillary Clinton. And on Tuesday, Senate Republicans conceded they did not have the votes necessary to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's landmark health care bill which the GOP had for years campaigned on repealing.

Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Clinton's 2016 campaign, told CNNMoney that Fox News' renewed focus on Clinton "shows how difficult it is to defend Trump's conduct on the merits."

"Fox is resorting to dredging up the ghost of Hillary Clinton, who is never running for office again," Fallon said.

Ted Newton, president of Gravity Strategic Communications, who worked on the George W. Bush and Mitt Romney campaigns, called Fox News' coverage of Clinton "absolutely ridiculous."

"I'm sure if there were good things to report, Fox would be all over it," Newton told CNNMoney. "And suddenly this deep Postal scandal would be on the back burner."

"It's certainly something that in the short term will continue to get them ratings," he added, "but that well is going to have to run dry at some point."

A Fox News spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

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