Beto O'Rourke: 'Is Fox News an Arm of the Republican Party' and the Trump Administration?

Beto O'Rourke hands Iowa, 2020
Beto O'Rourke attends the 'Running with Beto' Premiere 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Paramount Theatre on March 9, 2019, in Austin, Texas. Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW

Beto O'Rourke accused President Donald Trump's administration of having "full rein" over Fox News' day-to-day broadcasts, calling the cable news network was just "an arm of the Republican Party."

The former Texas representative and current 2020 Democratic presidential candidate became the latest politician to claim a cozy relationship between Fox News, the country's most-watched cable news network, and the Trump White House. O'Rourke pointed out several unprecedented connections between the president's agenda and Fox News during a San Francisco campaign event Sunday. In addition to the revolving door between Fox News and the White House, Trump frequently calls in to the shows and appears on the network.

"You have members of the organization moving into the White House," O'Rourke said Sunday. "You have a White House with free rein, almost, over what is broadcast over one of the most widely watched cable networks in the country today."

"Is Fox news an arm of the Republican Party and this administration?" O'Rourke asked, noting how individuals such as former Fox News executive Bill Shine became a Trump White House communications manager in 2018 before resigning and joining Trump's 2020 campaign full-time in March.

O'Rourke said that for the country to unleash its full creative potential, it requires people to operate from the "same set of facts," while acknowledging that one's "opinions are your own." But, O'Rourke argued, that's become less and less possible as Fox News has drifted toward a pro-Trump message and away from any semblance of objective criticism of the president's actions.

"To protect our democracy...let's make sure we have the same information, and that we make sure we understand who is funding the information we have coming our way," O'Rourke said.

Over the weekend, Trump once again moved in a way that reveals not only how frequently he watches Fox News but also his efforts to exert control over the network when inserting his opinion on how the network's hosts should be managed. On Saturday, Trump tweeted that the legal scholar and frequent Fox News contributor Alan Dershowitz was "brilliant" and "highly respected," while simultaneously trashing "very dumb" Judge Andrew Napolitano, who wrote in a Fox News opinion piece that Trump was guilty of obstructing justice, a critical take not frequently seen from Fox News hosts and contributors.

"Ever since Andrew [Napolitano] came to my office to ask that I appoint him to the U.S. Supreme Court, and I said NO, he has been very hostile! Also asked for pardon for his friend. A good 'pal' of low ratings Shepard Smith," Trump tweeted Saturday, revealing the past squabbles between him and those on the network.

Napolitano responded to Trump's Saturday tweet while appearing on the Fox Business Network's Mornings with Maria on Monday, asking, "If this is the way you treat your friends how do you treat your enemies?" Napolitano relayed a strange power move by then-president-elect Trump and a discussion the two had over the supposed Supreme Court request.

Napolitano is only one among other critical voices on Fox News that Trump has attacked in recent weeks. Along with Napolitano, he has lambasted anchors Shepard Smith, Arthel Neville and Leland Vittert.