I didn’t pay any attention to this WaPo story from a few days ago at the time but it’s getting harder to ignore as evidence of its thesis mounts.
Lotta smoke lately coming from the Trump/Fox relationship. What’s causing the fire?
The first wisps came last weekend when he posted a few tweets in defense of Jeanine Pirro, who was suspended by the network for questioning whether observant Muslims like Ilhan Omar could truly be loyal to the Constitution. He and Pirro “had a conversation before he tweeted,” claims WaPo, implying that she might have put Trump up to it. But he wasn’t done tweeting about Fox that day. A few hours later came this:
Were @FoxNews weekend anchors, @ArthelNeville and @LelandVittert, trained by CNN prior to their ratings collapse? In any event, that’s where they should be working, along with their lowest rated anchor, Shepard Smith!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2019
He’s lightly criticized FNC before but rarely does he dump on their on-air talent. Two days later, Fox nemesis Gabriel Sherman unspooled this report about the network’s new leader and his alleged antipathy to POTUS:
Though Lachlan [Murdoch] hired West Wing stalwart Hope Hicks, staffers believe he is likely to nudge the network away from its close marriage to Trump. Sources close to Lachlan pointed out that Lachlan is a libertarian conservative, not a MAGA diehard, who in private has expressed annoyance at Trump. “He doesn’t like Trump,” one person who has spoken with Lachlan told me. “There’s a lot of talk of the direction of the network changing under Lachlan,” the senior Fox staffer told me.
Sources pointed out the hiring of Donna Brazile and the appointment of Trump critic Paul Ryan to Fox Corp’s board as signs of Lachlan’s view on Trump.
Trump might be sensing some hostility from Fox management and reciprocating. Two days after Sherman’s story appeared, some of Fox’s otherwise Trump-friendly anchors took to scolding him for picking a fight with John McCain. “It makes absolutely no sense,” said “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade. Brit Hume initially seemed puzzled…
Why the President of the United States gets involved in petty disputes with someone most Americans have never heard of is beyond me. The same goes for his continuing feud with the late John McCain. Why bother? https://t.co/RCYQU8B0k3
— Brit Hume (@brithume) March 20, 2019
…but after Trump went after McCain again yesterday, he was more forceful:
President Trump’s attacks on the late John McCain mark the first time in memory where a President has picked a fight with a dead man and lost. McCain was no saint, but he was a brave and patriotic man. Hitting him when he can’t hit back is repellent.
— Brit Hume (@brithume) March 22, 2019
Trump sat down yesterday for an interview with one of the Trumpiest anchors at Fox Business, Maria Bartiromo — but even she somehow managed to cross him, again on the subject of McCain:
Trump suggests Fox promised him they wouldn’t ask about McCain
“I thought you weren’t supposed to bring it up.” pic.twitter.com/9R3Z0K1O1b
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) March 22, 2019
Well, at least Trump doesn’t hold grudges. No, wait, I forgot: He holds grudges about everything. Fox reporter John Roberts was reminded of it just a few hours ago, during a press gaggle with Trump this morning:
Upset with Fox? Just now on the South Lawn, the President took questions from several reporters, but ignored @johnrobertsFox, avoiding eye contact with him until he started walking away and glared at him. pic.twitter.com/iECiU7KS7E
— Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) March 22, 2019
Fox’s John Roberts says the President “glared” at him like never before after Fox Business News host pushed him on McCain insults pic.twitter.com/gYTSXRqfe7
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) March 22, 2019
What’s bugging him? It can’t be the Pirro suspension. She’ll be back on the air in no time. News that Lachlan Murdoch dislikes him probably isn’t news to him either. He has all sorts of friends inside the building, starting with Hannity, who’d surely have gossiped about that to him long ago. Bartiromo’s question may have annoyed him but it’s not like that was the first time lately that the subject of McCain had been broached. There must be something else. Did I overlook anything?