Donald Trump’s campaign adviser unloaded a pail of horse manure on The Kelly File last night that host Megyn Kelly let slide all over her. First, Conway gave a disturbing vision of “fair media” and then she claimed, with a straight face, that Twitter tantrum-thrower Trump has a “thick skin.”
As Trump conducts meetings with the media – at the same time that he has leveled an all-out assault on them - Kelly asked Conway, “What is fairness to Trump?”
Conway’s answer should disturb anyone who cares about our First Amendment under a President Trump (transcript via FoxNews.com, with copy edits):
CONWAY: Fairness is actually not having presumptive negativity written about you and always assuming the worst about you. And I think that Donald Trump has faced an unprecedented avalanche of critical coverage when he was running and frankly, I think, it in part he owes his victory to that.
There was a backlash against elites, a backlash against those who were telling Americans what is important to them.
In other words, Trump and Conway are just fine with the kind of sycophantic “news” that gets spewed regularly on Fox News from the likes of Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Eric Bolling, Harris Faulkner, Jeanine Pirro and others. And rather than being concerned with getting a story right or accurate, Conway (and, presumably, Trump) intend to play attitude police about the reporter’s mindset.
Kelly glided right over that in order to help demonize one of Trump’s enemies, the New York Times:
KELLY: Let me ask you then, so that’s—and by the way, the one that sticks out in my mind and has all along was the New York Times piece on Melania Trump. Melania Trump, his spouse—his spouse, right? She’s not a candidate. Calling her a mannequin and a trophy wife, which if anybody had ever said that about any—Michelle Obama was a successful lawyer. But Melania Trump has been a successful businesswoman. She speaks several languages. A mannequin and a trophy wife and it was just—fine, they were allowed to say that about her.
…The respect goes both ways, right?
Whatever Kelly thinks of the Times’ coverage of Melania Trump, her own network’s coverage of Michelle Obama was far worse. Trumpsters like Sean Hannity have routinely tried to portray her as America hating, “too” black to be trusted, etc. Even liberal Juan Williams described her as having "the Stokely-Carmichael-in-a-designer-dress thing going." Fox should apologize to Mrs. Obama before pointing any fingers at The Times. And, by the way, after all the attempts to paint Michelle Obama as un-American, where’s the Fox News coverage of the fact that Melania Trump violated her visa, worked in the U.S. illegally and lied about it?
Nevertheless Kelly was obviously concerned that Trump will continue his assault on the media. But she couched it in such a way as to signal that she’s really pals with a Trump administration.
KELLY: But let me ask you about that because even though the media did that to him, right, in his view, and obviously it’s true in many cases that they went after him with abandon, the public did see through it. So has he learned anything from that? You know, can we expect him to have a thicker skin as president given that he made it, notwithstanding that kind of coverage?
Coffee spray alert for Conway’s answer!
CONWAY: Well, he does have a thick skin, frankly, as someone who works very closely with him and was in that room today, directly beside him. I will say this though. That’s not what the meeting was about.
The meeting is not about settling scores and avenging grievances and bringing up, you know, different types of coverage. I think it’s saying really that Donald Trump was the one person in that room who got it right, who understood America and reflected back to them what their aspirations and their fears and their frustrations were.
And now everybody has to work together. They are the fourth estate. Incredibly powerful. Anchors like you are incredibly powerful in terms of distilling the information and reporting the news and maybe some opinion to the public, Megyn, in a fair-handed and complete way. And he will be the president of the United States.
We can have mutual—
KELLY: He knows he’s going to get hit, though. He’s the president.
CONWAY: That’s fine.
KELLY: I mean, he’s going to get hit. He’s going to get hit often. He’s not going to like it. That’s the way it works, you know.
CONWAY: That’s the way it works, but it should be relevant to the job and it should be relevant to the voters. And I have to tell you as someone who was like a chief spokeswoman for him and his campaign manager, it wasn’t always relevant to what Americans out there were telling us at rallies or telling pollsters behind the scenes concerned them. But I actually having sat there, I thought it was very cordial, very genial. I thought it was very productive.
KELLY: So if we cover him the same way, let’s say “The Kelly File,” we cover him the same way we cover Barack Obama, the same amount, the same skeptical eye, he’s going to be fine with that.
CONWAY: Yes. But can you say that about everyone that’s going to cover him? I mean, you had journalist saying during the campaign, Megyn, that Donald Trump compels them to suspend all objective standards of journalism.
Let’s not forget that we already know that Trump didn’t just have a temper tantrum over an interview that Kelly conducted in July, 2015, he actually threatened her. And she was rather sympathetic to him during that interview.
The fact that Kelly didn’t even mention that, something that she called “The biggest story in the country” (that she also kept quiet about at the time) does not bode well for coverage of Trump with “the same skeptical eye” that Obama got covered. And let’s face it: it’s probably not Kelly’s druthers that is keeping her silent.
If Kelly has any of the gumption she has a reputation for having, she will fight like hell against any and all restraints put on her coverage of Trump. It’s not a liberal thing, not a woman thing, not a Democratic thing, not a Trump thing. It’s a First Amendment, American thing.
Watch the chilling discussion below, from the November 21, 2016 The Kelly File.
Oh, I almost forget. Heil, mein Führer!