Conservative commentator Charlie Sykes grilled his longtime friend Paul Ryan over the “toxic sludge” pumped out by some Fox News personalities.
During an interview at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee last week, the Republican former House speaker, who now sits on the Fox Corp. board of directors, downplayed his day-to-day influence on the conservative network, noting it’s just one of many properties owned by the company.
Sykes reminded Ryan of an open letter to him in 2021, in which he condemned the Jan. 6 revisionism, COVID disinformation and embrace of “ugly racist narratives” by some on Fox News, particularly Tucker Carlson.
“The point was, OK I understand the need to have another point of view, but if you are on the board of directors of a company that is pumping toxic sludge, racism, disinformation, and attacks on democracy, if you don’t stand up now, then when?” Sykes asked Ryan.
“So, what do you really think?” Ryan attempted to joke as the audience cheered Sykes’ question.
“Do you have any responsibility?” pressed Sykes, the founder of The Bulwark news network.
“I do. I have a responsibility to offer my opinion and perspective, and I do that. But I don’t go on TV and do it. I offer my perspective and my opinion, often,” Ryan replied. “I’ll just leave it at that.”
Sykes continued: “Is there a red line for you at any point where you said, ‘I cannot be associated with a company that does this?’”
Ryan pivoted to saying he wanted the conservative movement to “get through this moment.”
Is Fox News “the solution or the problem?” Sykes asked.
Fox News will “have to be a part of the solution if we’re going to solve the problem in the conservative movement. Because there isn’t a bigger platform than this in America,” Ryan continued.
“So, I think the conservative movement is going through a lot of churn and a lot of turmoil, and I don’t like where it is right now. I want to make sure we get through this moment.”
Watch from the 45-minute mark here: