President Trump called in to Fox & Friends on Thursday morning. Hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, and Brian Kilmeade were prepared for a cozy chat, a reassuring pep talk. What they got was a half hour of pure Trump meltdown mode, as the president said “no collusion” a half dozen times, railed against James Comey, and referred to “this crazy Stormy Daniels deal.” What began with all smiles ended with three grim-faced Fox News hosts trying to get a word in edgewise, as Trump, his voice raised and hoarse, blared past any questions they were asking.
It was a tough morning for the president. The news broke just before Trump went on Fox that his nominee to run the Veterans Administration, Dr. Ronny Jackson, has dropped out of consideration. “These are all false accusations,” Trump said about allegations of drunken behavior and worse regarding Jackson. Again and again, over the course of 30 minutes, Trump went on long, loopy, repetitive riffs about how “fake” and “phony” everything is: the Jackson allegations, Comey’s memos, Stormy Daniels’s assertions, the Robert Mueller investigation. The hosts kept trying to bring up Kanye West’s pro-Trump tweets, but all they got were warmed-over campaign lines about how “black unemployment is at the lowest” and how the Republican party is better for African-Americans: “If you go back to the Civil War, it was the Republicans who did the thing.” In Trump-speak, “Did the thing” = “freed the slaves.”
Toward the end, Trump tipped his hand. Asked by Doocy to grade his performance in office, Trump veered off, saying, “I’m fighting a battle … a phony battle … it’s a cloud over my head.” He seemed to be referring to the Mueller probe. “The message now is, ‘It’s a fix.’ I’ve been able to message it.” This is a crucial statement. This is how Trump — and his media handmaiden Fox News — views things. Figure out how you want to interpret facts, twist things to your liking, and then repeat it over and over and over again, thereby “messaging it.” The current message is, “It’s a fix.” What’s fixed? Everything: Mueller, Dr. Jackson’s nomination, the investigation of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels. Listening to Trump this morning was like hearing a week’s worth of Hannity episodes crunched into a half hour. All the same conspiracy theories and twisted logic. For the Fox audience, it works like a charm. It’s what put Trump in office. By the end, Trump, who could not be controlled in any coherent way for the previous 30 minutes, suddenly became friendly and precise. “Ainsley, good luck with your book!” he called out to Earhardt, who’s just published a memoir. Your president of the United States: Useless on articulating policy, great at promotion.
Fox & Friends airs weekdays at 6 a.m. on Fox News.
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