Democrat O'Rourke accuses Trump White House of dictating Fox News content

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke attacked the close ties between Republican President Donald Trump and Fox News on Sunday, saying the White House has “free rein, almost” over what is broadcast on the cable television network.

Democrats have long accused Fox of reporting that is biased in favor of the Republican Party and Trump. The president is an avid watcher of the network, and Sean Hannity, one of its stars, is an admirer of Trump and last year spoke at one of his rallies.

Former Fox News executive Bill Shine became a communications official in the Trump White House in 2018, resigning the position in March to be an adviser on Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign.

Speaking at a campaign event in San Francisco, former Texas congressman O’Rourke, one of 20 candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, criticized the links between the Trump White House and an influential news network.

“You have members of the organization moving into the White House, you have a White House with free rein, almost, over what is broadcast over one of the most widely watched cable networks in the country today,” O’Rourke said.

Reuters emails to the White House and Fox News were not immediately answered.

On Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, O’Rourke said Trump invited Russia to interfere, even if Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded after a 22-month investigation that Trump and his campaign did not collude with Moscow.

“I don’t know if collusion is a term of art in the law, but he certainly invited their participation,” O’Rourke said.

Reporting by Tim Reid; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall