MEDIA

Fox News Downplayed Chris Christie Scandal All Day

01/09/2014 07:56 am ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

When the New York Times posted emails on Wednesday morning showing that top aides to New Jersey governor Chris Christie had intentionally caused traffic problems in the city of Fort Lee to get revenge on a political rival, most of the media treated it as a pretty big deal. By the afternoon, it was a rolling nightmare for Christie, the top story on CNN and MSNBC, all over the newspapers, everywhere.

Except, that is, for Fox News, where a lot of people started noticing that Christie's name was barely being uttered:

The network's relative blackout of the story continued into the evening. A review of TVEyes, the website that lets users search through transcripts and video of past television broadcasts, shows that Christie didn't come up on the "O'Reilly Factor" or on "Hannity." Greta Van Susteren and Megyn Kelly both covered the story, though both led their shows off with other things—in Kelly's case, the criticisms of the Obama administration by former defense secretary Bob Gates. Bret Baier also briefly mentioned the scandal on his show. The story did get prominent play on the network's website.

By Thursday morning, the channel seemed to have resigned itself to covering the story more, as it led the Fox News website and was mentioned repeatedly on "Fox and Friends."

Intriguingly, the network's idiosyncratic handling of the Christie scandal came just as details leaked about a big new biography of Fox News chief Roger Ailes. The book, according to CNN's Brian Stelter, "expands on previous reports, including one by Bob Woodward of The Washington Post, that Ailes tried to enlist New Jersey governor Chris Christie and then-general David H. Petraeus to run against President Barack Obama in 2012."

A Media Matters study on Thursday showed that Fox News spent just under 15 minutes covering the Christie story on Wednesday. CNN, by contrast, spent nearly two-and-a-half hours on it.

Clarification: Language has been added to reflect that the scandal was also covered on the Fox News website prior to Thursday morning.

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