Fox & Friends gave Donald Trump nearly 26 minutes of commercial-free airtime today, in the middle of the New York and New Jersey terrorism investigation, even though he obviously knew nothing about what was going on. But that was plenty of time to threaten debate moderator Lester Holt, call CNN “disgusting,” and boast about his awesomeness and about his support for freedom of the press.
As the Facebook page Fox Follies & Fallacies (run by former NewsHound Headly Westerfield, aka Aunty Em), noted, we have never seen Fox News go nearly a half hour without commercials except to cover breaking news.
The only breaking news in this half hour was just how much time Fox & Friends was willing to devote to trying to make Trump look presidential. That is, if “presidential” means maximum fear mongering for political gain. So, we got this unenlightening exchange between Trump and cohost Steve Doocy:
TRUMP: I think this is something that maybe we’ll get, will happen perhaps more and more all over the country.
DOOCY: What do you mean, more terror strikes?
TRUMP: Yeah, because we’ve been weak, our country’s been weak. We’re letting people in by the thousands, and tens of thousands. I’ve been saying you’ve got to stop it.
[...] They can’t be properly vetted. I spoke to people in law enforcement, the best people in law enforcement. They say there’s no way of vetting these people.
Instead, Ainsley Earhardt, the Roger Ailes and segregation apologist, gave Trump a prompt to attack Hillary Clinton. Earhardt said snidely, “Well, Hillary and Tim Kaine said that ISIS strikes on our cities means we’re winning abroad.”
Later, cohost Brian Kilmeade tried to get some actual terror-fighting policy out of Trump. Kilmeade asked for specifics of Trump’s boast about “getting tough.”
Trump’s top item? Saying “radical Islam” and profiling. In fact, those seemed to be his only solutions, plus stopping immigration.
“Would Donald Trump put people on the ground if necessary?” Kilmeade asked.
Mr. Get Tough wouldn’t answer. He changed the subject to Hillary Clinton.
TRUMP: Well, let me just tell you. The fact that she even said that is a terrible thing. …She’s desperate for votes. All you have to do is look at her poll numbers… She’s weak…Forgetting about me, I would hate to see four more years of those kind of answers.
Instead of challenging Trump for real answers, Doocy prompted him to attack CNN and pat Fox on the back. From the Media Matters transcript:
DOOCY: You were hit by mainstream media that were attacking you for using ‘bomb’ before the authorities had confirmed the facts of the attack. And yet Hillary Clinton referred to the bombings in New York and New Jersey but CNN edited that out. What do you make of that?
DONALD TRUMP: Well CNN is disgusting and they’re disgraceful. I watch it all. I watch all of it folks. And sometimes Fox actually doesn’t treat me well also, by the way, but that’s OK. You people do, that’s all that matters.
DOOCY: We’re fair and balanced.
TRUMP: You’re fair and balanced, I agree.
Later, Trump bragged, “I was criticized for calling [the New York explosion] correctly. What I said was exactly correct. I should be a newscaster because I called it before the news.
Trump segued to whining about the media not adoring him the way he adores himself:
TRUMP: Hey, folks, it’s a rigged system and I’ve been saying it for a long time. And the news is as dishonest as anybody there is. […]They’ll do anything they can to stop common sense.
[…] I’m going to be treated very unfairly during the debate because there’s such pressure—you know, Matt Lauer was very fair, and he did a very good job, and everybody said I won that debate, if you call it a debate. The one on NBC last week, the town hall, they said that that was—the forum, they said that that was an event that I won. And Matt Lauer was badly criticized.
Instead of noting that the presidential debate commission seemingly caved to Trump and gave him the moderator (Lester Holt) he had requested, Kilmeade helped Trump work the ref: “Are you worried that Lester Holt is going to be unfair to you now?” Kilmeade asked.
And Trump immediately launched his veiled threat:
TRUMP: Well, I have a set of things that I’ll be doing if that’s the case. I think he—I always found him to be fair, but, the system, as I said, it’s a very, very dirty system, and it’s a very unfair system, so we’ll see what happens, but I feel very confident going into the debate.
Later, as Trump talked about shutting down terrorist websites and publications, he announced, “I’m totally in favor of freedom of the press.” Sure he is, so long as the press is reporting exactly what he wants it to. Otherwise? He’ll ban them from his events, have a reporter arrested, threatened and even physically assaulted.
Predictably, not one of the three cohosts challenged a word.
Watch this September 19, 2016 edition of Trump & Friends, below.