Tuesday, September 15, 2020

How desperate is Rump? He wants to do weekly ‘Fox & Friends’ stints.


How desperate is Trump? He wants to do weekly ‘Fox & Friends’ stints.


Opinion by 

Erik Wemple

Media critic

September 15, 2020 at 2:09 p.m. CDT

The authoritarian politico famous for idealizing the American past is itching to rekindle a bit of his own recent history. “Good to be here, great to be with my friends. I think we’re going to do this — we’ve agreed to it once a week in the morning, and I look forward to it. Like the old days,” said President Trump on Tuesday morning in an interview with the hosts of “Fox & Friends,” the remarkably stupid No. 1 morning show on cable news.


“I haven’t heard that, well that’s an exclusive right there,” said co-host Steve Doocy. “That’s fantastic,” said co-host Brian Kilmeade. Ainsley Earhardt, the third co-host, showed a wide smile.


“That’s why you have great people working for you, you don’t have to even get involved. You have the best people. And you do actually, and so anyway we’ve agreed to do it probably mostly on Monday, we’re going to do it mostly on Monday and if we have to Tuesday.”


“We’ll see how that goes,” Earhardt replied, and noted that they’d asked Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to appear on the show.


The exchange was awkward but illustrative: Here was the president of the United States apprising “news” anchors how they’d be scheduling their show in the coming months. Instead of inquiring further about just how this notion had arisen, they responded like the propagandists they’ve been for years: Great!


In spring 2011, Trump indeed began weekly appearances on “Fox & Friends” on Monday mornings. The appearances provided an opportunity for Trump to do … well, pretty much what he still does these days on his less frequent “Fox & Friends” appearances. He recited the usual political talking points, with an emphasis on hyping threats from China; he promoted his alleged business expertise; he presaged his current appeals to so-called law and order by suggesting things such as executing Edward Snowden; and he began cultivating the audience that propelled his 2016 presidential campaign. The weekly appearances ended in 2015 after Trump declared his presidential candidacy.


It all worked, at least in Trump’s recollection. Over and over he has referred to the “Fox & Friends” hosts as his beloved pals.


And boy did they play the part on Tuesday. In a moment that started out with a bit of journalistic meaning, Kilmeade asked Trump how to react to climate change without trashing the economy. Trump said this:


TRUMP: Well look, Brian, you have forests all over the world. You don’t have fires like you do in California, you know. In Europe, they have forest cities. You look at — you look at countries — Austria. You look at so many countries, they live in the forest. They’re considered forest cities — so many of them. And they don’t have fires like this and they have more explosive trees. They have trees that will catch easier. But they maintain their fire. They have an expression, they thin the fuel. The fuel is what’s on the ground — the leaves.


DOOCY: Right.


TRUMP: The trees that fall, they’re dry. They’re like — they’re like a matchstick, you know, after 18 months. If they’re on the ground longer than 18 months, they’re very explosive. And they have to get rid of that stuff and they have to manage their — they have to manage their fires.


The “Fox & Friends” crew didn’t ask Trump to cite a few examples of these “forest cities.” Twitter, of course, filled in the gaps.


The other moments in the interview were routine examples of the program’s passive idiocy vis-a-vis Trump’s lies and nonsense. They snarked about the coronavirus-oriented caution of Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s campaign, for instance, and let the president insult Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. They listened as Trump raved about the a column by Thomas Friedman of the New York Times lauding the UAE-Israel diplomatic breakthrough: “We’re getting accolades. Even the New York Times and Tom Friedman said that’s great. That’s great. They gave us a — I don’t know, I can’t — you can’t get a better review than they gave us.”


Moments later, they listened as Trump bashed the same paper: “What’s happened to the news, what’s happened to the media in this country is a terrible thing. It’s a shame. And it’s really — much of it is absolutely the enemy of the people and they see it. And nobody’s said it like I say it, but I say it loud and clear. It’s the enemy of the people, whether it’s the New York Times, Washington Post, the networks.”


After Trump finished that predictable point, Doocy quasi-objected: “Well, Mr. President, we’re part of the press, too — are we the enemy of the people?”


Trump: “No, you’re not.”


“Fox & Friends” appeared okay with that explanation.


At the end of the fiasco, the topic returned to Trump’s alleged agreement to visit “Fox & Friends” every week. Check out this remarkable exchange:


KILMEADE: So we’ll do it every week? We’re going to do it every week?


TRUMP: I look forward to it. Yes, we’re going to do it every week. Every Monday I think they said and if we can’t do it on a Monday, we’ll do it on Tuesday like we did today.


KILMEADE: Sounds good.


DOOCY: All right. Mr. President, thank you very much. You may want to do it every week, but Fox is not committed to that. We’re going to take it on a case-by-case basis. And Joe Biden, as well, is always welcome to join us for 47 minutes like we just did with the president. All right. Donald Trump, President of the United States.


A Fox News spokesperson tells the Erik Wemple Blog that there was, in fact, no agreement to have Trump appear weekly on “Fox & Friends.” We’ve checked with the Trump campaign and the White House regarding the matter and have received no further information.


We do have an implication, however: So desperate is Trump to connect with and reassure his TV base that he needs a weekly dose of the affirmation and sycophancy that he’s gotten for years from these couch surfers.

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