Fox News knows the drill: When a big White House bombshell breaks, instantly try to downplay the significance and then talk some more about Hillary Clinton.
A nervous Fox News shifted into a defensive mode on Friday as news broke that Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was pleading guilty to lying to FBI agents and would cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.
Serving as Trump's political backstop all year — especially with regards to the encroaching Russia investigation, which on Friday landed right inside the White House with Flynn's felony plea — Fox News dutifully did its best to cheer up the White House and its viewers.
First, Fox hosts did it by obsessing over Hillary Clinton.
As the day first unfolded, Fox made it clear that a top priority was to wallow in supposedly new information about a distant Clinton "scandal." In this case, it was the long-forgotten meeting between former President Bill Clinton and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch in 2016.
Yet even after the Flynn blockbuster revelation, Fox News was still clinging to the absurd idea that Clinton storyline represented the day's most important news development.
Yes, Fox News dot com is really leading with Hillary Clinton news right now pic.twitter.com/nQy0LNWBto
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) December 1, 2017
When forced to address the Flynn story, which now presents endless political and legal troubles for the White House, Fox hosts and guests did their best to soften the blow. (There were some brief, passing exceptions.)
"Is this a good thing today for the White House?" Fox News host Harris Faulkner actually asked a guest this afternoon as they discussed the fact that Trump's former senior campaign adviser now has a criminal record because of what he did while working for Trump.
FAULKNER: Now for the potential legal exposure for the White House, if there is any, and whether we could see more bold-face names facing indictments in the Russia investigation. My next guest sees many significant developments from Flynn's guilty plea. Tom Dupree served as deputy assistant Attorney General under President George W. Bush. So Tom, as you look at this, is this a good thing today for the White House, or something else, or neutral?
DUPREE: Well, it's hard to spin this as a good development for the White House. But at the same time I wouldn't overstate the significance of what happened. I don't think it's a shock that Flynn agreed to a deal with Mueller. I think the big question now is what comes next, and specifically, what is Mueller going to get out of Flynn? Because if Flynn doesn't have a lot for Mueller, if he can't implicate the president or other White House officials, then I think that this investigation will come to an end very quickly.
FAULKNER: Oh, that's interesting!
Just prior to asking if the Flynn indictment was a "good thing" for the White House, Faulkner interviewed Steven Cortes, a former Trump campaign surrogate who mocked the news story as more "collusion delusion."
News consumers interested in the facts and interested in the deep, deep wounds the Flynn guilty plea will cause the White House in coming weeks and months were better served changing the channel on Friday:
— All In w/Chris Hayes (@allinwithchris) December 1, 2017