Fox News or Fox Fiction Channel? Ex-Bush Ethics Lawyer Bashes Network On-air With Tucker Carlson

A former Bush administration ethics attorney questioned whether the Fox News network was a proper media outlet or a "fiction channel" on Thursday, in light of its coverage of President Donald Trump's accusation of "spygate" and the FBI's use of informants within his 2016 campaign.

Law professor and Minnesota U.S. Senate candidate Richard Painter challenged Fox host Tucker Carlson on-air after Carlson asked how FBI and CIA informants reporting back to former President Barack Obama's administration did not fit the definition of "spying."

"We know an FBI and CIA informant on the government payroll made contact with at least three members of the Trump campaign during the campaign, gathered information from them surreptitiously and passed it back to the Obama administration," Carlson said, according to Mediaite. "You can argue that's justified and I'm open-minded. That's fine, tell me why it's not spying?"

Painter pointed to recent comments by House Speaker Paul Ryan, Representative Trey Gowdy and Senator Richard Burr that defended the FBI.

"The speaker of the House of Representatives has already talked about this, Paul Ryan, Rep. Gowdy, Rich Burr over in the United States Senate Intelligence Committee… And there is a consensus among Republicans and Democrats because they have seen the relevant information, including a lot of them have seen the classified information which I have not seen, and neither has Fox News seen the classified information," Painter said. "I don't know if this is a news channel or a fiction channel—we need to focus on the facts here."

Carlson continued to press the issue, with Painter saying that if any Republican lawmakers had seen a "shred of evidence" that the Democratic Obama administration had spied, they would have called it spying.

Following the interview, Painter took to Twitter to chide the network more and made a tongue-in-cheek reference to the famous fictional spy James Bond.

"Great spy story tonight on the FOX Fiction Channel!! This one—featuring Obama 007—is better than a James Bond movie! It would be even more fun if Kellyanne could work in her spying microwave oven! Tomorrow I have to go back to the real world…." Painter tweeted.

Great spy story tonight on the FOX Fiction Channel!!
This one —featuring Obama 007 — is better than a James Bond movie!
It would be even more fun if Kellyanne could work in her spying microwave oven!
Tomorrow I have to go back to the real world ....https://t.co/TCw7LQ01Hp

— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) June 8, 2018

The channel, which President Trump often praises for its coverage of his administration, has received outsized criticism of late, including from a former military analyst.

Retired lieutenant Army Colonel Ralph Peters, who left Fox in March, accused the network of peddling propaganda as Trump ascended the country's political ladder.

"With the rise of Donald Trump, Fox did become a destructive propaganda machine," Peters told CNN on Wednesday. "And I don't do propaganda for anyone."