Emails discovered in a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the Sierra Club reveal that former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt was provided the script for a planned interview on President Donald Trump's favorite morning cable show, "Fox & Friends," the Daily Beast reports.
According to the report, Pruitt did multiple interviews on the show and, in one instance, was giving a preview of every question he would be asked allowing him to prepare his answers.
According to the report, it is not unusual for interview subjects to be given a list of topics to be discussed, but being provided the actual questions in advance is an obvious helping hand to the interviewee.
As the Beast's Maxwell Tani notes, "on occasion, producers will ask pre-interview questions to understand what a subject has to offer, and why their information is relevant."
According to David Hawkins, formerly of CBS News and CNN who now teaches journalism at Fordham University, the "Fox and Friends" approach to Trump administration interviews is an affront to journalistic standards.
“Every American journalist knows that to provide scripts or articles to the government for review before publication or broadcast is a cardinal sin. It’s Journalism 101,” he said in an interview. “This is worse than that. It would and should get you fired from any news organization with integrity.”
Former CNN executive Sid Bedingfield, who now teaches journalism at the University of Minnesota, agreed.
“I can't imagine why a high-level newsmaker—like a White House official—would ever receive a formal pre-interview,” he explained. “Those are designed to ensure that the interview subject has something relevant to add to the story—that it is worth spending time and resources to conduct the interview."
"A top White House official who has the power to shape public policy around a particular issue would obviously be relevant," Bedingfield continued. "In those interviews, the journalist should force the newsmaker to defend policy decisions, not help sell them.”
The report notes that Pruitt's team worked hand in hand with the conservative news network to get him a platform to pitch his plans and fire back at critics, stating, "In multiple interviews on Fox & Friends, Pruitt was essentially allowed to dictate the terms for the interview and avoid any difficult questions."
The report specifically singles out "Fox & Friends" producer Diana Aloi, detailing an email she promised to provide “pre-interview questions on the agreed upon topic, the new direction of the EPA, and helping communities that were poorly served by the last administration,” in an email to EPA officials.
“This is not standard practice whatsoever and the matter is being addressed internally with those involved,” a spokesperson for Fox News said in a statement.
You can read more details here.