Critic's Notebook: Trump Joins 'Fox & Friends' for Friendly Chat About Why He's Great
Plugging his upcoming Congressional address, the president grants an interview to the only news outlet that treats him "fairly."
Ever the canny promoter, Donald Trump plugged his upcoming Congressional address by giving an interview to Fox & Friends on Tuesday morning. It was a brave move by the President, since, as we all know, Republicans appearing on Fox are venturing into the belly of the beast.
The intense grilling by hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade commenced immediately.
“Thank you so much for the shout-out you gave us at that press conference about ten days ago!” Doocy gushed, swelling with pride at representing a news organization that serves as a branch of the Trump administration.
“You have treated me fairly,” Trump replied, which is his way of saying that they cover him exactly the way he wants them to.
“You’ll have the biggest audience for a State of the Union-like address…bigger than any other year!” Kilmeade offered, eager to get in on the mutual stroke session by speaking in the only language Trump understands.
As always, Trump was quick to laud his accomplishments, or, more accurately, future accomplishments, promising, “We’re coming out with a health care plan that’ll be terrific.” That nobody has a clue what it will be didn’t seem to bother him, although he did allow, “Health care is a very complex subject.” He seemed surprised by the realization that he wouldn’t be able to take care of it with an executive order and accompanying photo op.
He boasted about his administration’s crackdown on immigrants, proclaiming, “We’re getting the bad ones out. The bad people, gang members, drug lords, in some cases murderers.” (And some, we can assume, are good people.) He took credit for the recent rise in the stock market, despite having proclaimed it a “bubble” when Obama was running the country.
“I think our country’s going to sail,” he said, which is possibly true if he meant off a cliff.
Asked about his decision not to attend the upcoming White House Correspondents' Dinner, Trump said, “I am not a hypocrite…we have not been treated properly.”
Referring to the previous dinner, at which he was raked over the coals by host Seth Myers and President Obama, Trump said, “One of the great misconceptions about that evening five years ago…. I loved that evening! I had the greatest time! He [Obama] did a great job. I thought he was very respectful.” So now we know where Kellyanne Conway came up with the concept of alternative facts.
“You’ve said that you can take hits when it’s justified. Can you give us an example of a time when someone was critical of you and you thought to yourself, 'I deserve that hit?'” Kilmeade asked.
“No, I could never do that,” Trump quickly replied, showing no sign of self-consciousness.
When asked about Jimmy Kimmel’s jokes about him at the Academy Awards, Trump pulled the race card by saying that everyone else does.
“It just seems like the other side, whenever they’re losing badly, they always pull out the race card,” he said, before boasting about how well he had done in the election with blacks and Hispanics.
Commenting on his press secretary Sean Spicer having recently asked his aides to surrender their cell phones, Trump said, “First of all, Sean Spicer is a fine human being; he’s a fine person,” which should have Spicer wondering when the ax if going to fall.
“I would have done it differently. I would have gone one-on-one with different people,” Trump allowed. When asked if that meant he would have also inspected people’s cell phones, Trump’s response was ominous.
“There are things you can do that are a hell lot worse than that, I’ll be honest with you,” he said, with an evil chuckle. Although he didn’t explain exactly what he meant, it definitely sounded like waterboarding was on the table.
“Let’s talk about your tweeting,” Kilmeade suggested. “Is there a method to the attacks, or is it just venting?”
“No method, really,” responded Trump, which wasn’t exactly a revelation. He went on to defend such recent tweets as his attack on John McCain. “I thought it’s inappropriate that he goes to foreign soil, and he criticizes our government,” Trump explained. “People have to be careful with that. People really have to be careful with that.” So in the unlikely event that McCain is eager to relive his experiences being tortured as a POW, he may soon have the chance.
Referring to the large-scale protests and the spate of leaks that have plagued Trump's presidency, Kilmeade asked, “Do you believe that President Obama is behind it, and if he is, is that a violation of the so-called, unsaid President’s code?” (Apparently, that’s a thing.)
Simultaneously blaming his predecessor and attempting to seem magnanimous, Trump told him, “I think that President Obama is behind it...and some of the leaks possibly come from that group. But I also understand that’s politics. In terms of him being behind things, that’s politics. And it will probably continue.”
Trump was less indulgent about Nancy Pelosi, whom he described as “incompetent.”
“If you look at what’s going on with the Democrats and the party, it’s getting smaller and smaller,” he pointed out. “In a certain way, I hate to see it, because I like a two-party system. And we’re soon going to have a one-party system.” You can’t say that he hasn’t given us fair warning.
When asked what grade he would give himself so far (“From an A to an F,” Earhardt helpfully clarified), Trump gave an answer that was surprisingly similar to what Obama used to say about himself.
“I give myself an A+ for effort,” he said. “In terms of messaging, I would give myself a C or a C+. My messaging isn’t good.”
“In terms of achievement, I’d give myself an A,” he added. “I think I’ve done great things…but I don’t think we’ve explained it well enough to the American public. Maybe I’ll change that during the speech.”
The broadcast also included a segment in which the Fox hosts were shown around the White House.
“We were so fortunate to get a VIP tour of the actual White House!” Earhardt enthused, sounding like a grade-school student on her first class trip.
“Yes, our tour guide, the President himself, walking us through his brand-new house!” Doocy added, as serious journalists everywhere cringed. During the tour, the group just happened to run into Melania, who was pretending to be hard at work on an upcoming event.
“This is my team, we’re working hard,” Melania said. “It’s almost like you’re planning a wedding each time.” The experience may turn out to be invaluable, since her husband will probably be having more in the future.
Walking with Trump on the White House promenade, Doocy helpfully gave the president a product plug. “Right over there is your hotel!” he pointed out. “It’s a beautiful hotel!” Later, during their recap, Earhardt marveled, “It was almost like he’s so busy with his job at the White House that he didn’t even notice it!” Yes, Ainsley, that’s right. Trump barely even knows that it exists…except when he goes there for dinner.