Trump on His Conservative Media Backers: "They Don't Decide Policy"

"Sean Hannity has been a terrific, terrific supporter of what I do, not of me," the president said. "If I changed my views, he wouldn't be with me."

President Donald Trump used a White House address on Friday to push back on the narrative that his backers in conservative media, including Fox News host Sean Hannity, radio host Rush Limbaugh and pundit Ann Coulter, tell him what to do.

"They don't decide policy," he said during the speech, which he made to announce his decision to declare a national emergency to fund the building of a wall on the Southern border.

As popular conservative personalities with large followings, the three hosts have all been seen as crucial outside policy advisors to the president on the topic of immigration, with Hannity referred to in the press as Trump's "shadow chief of staff."

"Sean Hannity has been a terrific, terrific supporter of what I do, not of me," Trump said. "If i changed my views, he wouldn't be with me."

Of Limbaugh, he said, "He's got one of the biggest audiences in the history of the world. This guy is unbelievable."

Trump also spoke fondly of Fox News hosts Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, two strong voices in the conservative world on the importance of combating illegal immigration.

"Laura's been great, Tucker Carlson's been great," he said. 

Trump also said he’s gotten backing from pundits on CNN, a network he strongly dislikes. “I actually have a couple of people on CNN that have been great,” he said.

The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the White House called Hannity and Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs "as aides sought to minimize the damage by tamping down criticism on the right" of a plan for the president to sign a bi-partisan deal that wouldn't include enough wall money.

Hannity, playing off of a Mediaite headline that alleged that the president directly called him to lobby for the bill, tweeted on Wednesday that it "never happened."