An Axios report about Donald Trump “losing patience” with VA Secretary David Shulkin includes an eye-opening anecdote about Fox News’ outsized influence over Trump.
Yesterday, Axios' Jonathan Swan reported on a meeting between Shulkin and Trump in which they discussed “important legislation to reform the VA health care system.” Swan then wrote (some emphases mine):
Trump surprised Shulkin by dialing in Fox & Friends host Pete Hegseth on speaker phone to get his opinion of the legislation, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversation.
The Hegseth call put Shulkin in an awkward spot, according to those sources. Hegseth competed for Shulkin’s job and favors more aggressive reform for the VA. Trump talks to Hegseth regularly and enjoys watching him on Fox and Friends.
If you’re not familiar with Hegseth, he cohosts Fox & Friends on weekends and he’s as big a Trump sycophant as any of his colleagues. For example:
- Hegseth gushed that Trump “nailed it” when he refused to denounce white supremacists in Charlottesville. Hegseth also called Trump's comments a “unifying message.”
- Hegseth shrugged off any civilian casualties that may have resulted from Trump’s Mother of All Bombs dropped in Afghanistan by saying, “This is Indian country.”
- Hegseth was agog with anticipation over Trump’s “amazing” Fake News Awards.
Watch Hegseth praise Trump’s Charlottesville remarks below, from the August 13, 2017 Fox & Friends, via Media Matters.
(Hegseth image via screen grab)