With Donald Trump and his good “friends” at Fox News doing everything they could to undermine the free press during his first year in office, 2017 was not exactly an easy time to be a member of the so-called mainstream media. When every honest mistake, no matter how small, is held up by the president as proof of a #FakeNews epidemic, it’s not hard to lose the trust of the American people.
Day in and day out, political reporters for print and online outlets—including the exceptional team right here at The Daily Beast—have done their best to ignore the noise and focus on the facts. TV personalities don’t always have that luxury, either because they have to fill hours of commentary on cable news or because they have a mandate to entertain and not just inform viewers.
It doesn’t help that Trump has mostly sat down with only the most sycophantic interviewers. As of October, the president had given 18 out of a total 23 major TV interviews to Fox News or Fox Business Network. It’s only slightly less rare for his top surrogates to take questions from critical journalists.
When they do, however, it has produced some of the most explosive—if not always the most enlightening—moments on cable news in years. Whether they are confronting members of the administration directly or just daring to call them out on their lies, the men and women on the list below were able to rise above the fray and hold Trump and his various defenders to account.
For that alone, they deserve credit at the end of this very long year.
The host of CNN’s The Lead and State of the Union has long been an ombudsman of sorts for the cable news business, but that role became even more vital this year as Trump made CNN his primary target for scorn and derision. Even before Trump’s inauguration, Tapper was fighting back against the president-elect’s charges that CNN was #FakeNews, accurately warning his competitors at one point that they could be next.