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Fox News’ Trump-A-Palooza

Reported by Ellen - April 2, 2011 -

OK, I get why Fox News was agog over Donald Trump and the birther thing. It was a perfect way to outsource a dog whistle to their extremist base and it ties so well into their "he’s not a true patriot” meme. But I don’t get why Fox has suddenly fallen hook, line and sinker for Trump as if he’s the Great White Hope for 2012. They must have some internal polling that indicates he’s going over well but surely the suits at Fox have eyes that can see some glaring problems – and I’m not talking about his hair.

Gail Collins summed up Trump’s potential candidacy in a wonderful column in yesterday’s New York Times:

Donald Trump has run faux campaigns for president before, flirting with the Democrats and independents. This time, he’s playing a conservative Republican. By 2016, he’ll probably be talking about his affinity for the Alaskan Independence Party or the Whigs.

… Trump’s main argument for why he should be taken seriously as a presidential contender is his business success. Has Obama ever hosted a long-running reality series? Owned a bankruptcy-bound chain of casinos? Put his name on a flock of really unattractive high-rise apartment buildings? No!

Maybe Fox is desperate because the rest of the Republican field looks even worse. A new Harris Interactive poll, admittedly taken before Trump talked birth certificate on The View – and Fox News’ echo chamber reiterated and reiterated and reiterated – found that Trump tied with Romney for the lead among all adults if they were voting in the Republican primary. Still, that only amounted to 10 percent. Republican respondents – the people who will likely turn out and vote in the primaries – put Mike Huckabee in the lead with 15%. Trump was well behind Huckabee – as well as Romney, Palin, and Gingrich – with a mere 8%. Rudy Giuliani, who came in lower, with 7%, was the only Republican in that field to beat President Obama head to head, but even that was a narrow 51% to 49%. Trump lost by 10 points.

Another recent poll had Trump beating President Obama, albeit within the poll's margin of error. But first, Trump has to win the nomination. As Raw Story noted, Trump told CNN in 2004, "I probably identify more as a Democrat" and "It just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans." Something tells me that won't go over so well with the primary voters.

But maybe Trump has really caught on fire with the birther talk. How else to explain why Fox & Friends suddenly decided to give him a regular Monday perch to make, as they put it, “his voice loud and clear on Fox?” That voice is loud and clear alright. Included in the Fox News promo is a plug for the candidate clip of Trump saying, "My message is a better message than anybody else's."

Bill O’Reilly obviously did not get that message. Oh, he gave Trump plenty of airtime. Four segments this past week by my count. That’s not counting Trump’s appearances on On The Record, Geraldo At Large and, of course, Fox & Friends. On FoxNews.com, the unedited video of Trump with O’Reilly (below) runs more than 34 minutes. Plus, the final Trump installment Friday night was followed by Glenn Beck in a segment FoxNews.com called, Does Trump Have What It Takes to Be President? Just asking, of course.

But O’Reilly made it pretty darned clear he wasn’t taking Trump’s candidacy seriously – at least not yet. Besides tossing aside the birth certificate conspiracy (though O’Reilly was silent when Trump suggested that maybe Obama's birth certificate says he's a Muslim), O’Reilly was obviously unimpressed when Trump failed to specify what he thought should be a “fair tax.”

At about the 10:16 mark in the video below (the complete interview), O’Reilly said, “If you’re president, you’re not going to be able to do it on rhetoric… Tell me how much I should pay.”

Trump said he couldn’t do that. “You have to look at the deficits,” he said. He then admitted that the deficit is right now $14 trillion though “increasing rapidly.” Not to worry, though. Trump quickly assured The Factor, “If I ever decide to run… we’re not gonna have the kind of problems that we have right now because I won’t be taken advantage of by the rest of the world.”

O’Reilly said with a bit of impatience, “I got it. Alright.” He added, “You’re gonna have to come up with some kind of tax code."

Trump continued, “Believe me, there won’t be so much tax necessary as there is right now because we are a whipping post.”

Good to know Trump plans to turn our economy around by talking tough and playing the mean hombre. Maybe he can pick Sarah Palin as a running mate and together they can aim slingshots at Russia and China (just a stone’s throw farther away) from her house in Alaska – in between their hits on Fox, of course.

Whatever his popularity now, I’ll bet Republicans Fox News viewers will tire of him almost as quickly as you can say “Ross Perot” or “The rent is too damn high.” I doubt he’ll even make it through the entire election season before getting fired by his new BFF’s.

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