President Trump says he is resuming his weekly visits to “Fox & Friends,” the morning show that gave him a direct relationship with the Republican base before he ran for president.
As with most things the President says, however, his claim must be viewed with some skepticism. Fox News has not confirmed any plans for a weekly segment.
“We’ve agreed to do it once a week in the morning,” Trump declared as he began a phone call with “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday morning.
Trump said he would call in “mostly on Monday, and if we have to, Tuesday,” adding it would be “like the old days.”
But when it came up again 45 minutes later at the end of the call, co-host Steve Doocy said “Fox has not committed to that.” He added that the interviews will be on a “case by case basis” and said Joe Biden is welcome on the program as well.
So perhaps Trump’s comments are best viewed as an offer – a statement that he would like to call in and communicate directly with his base in the weeks leading up to the election. He seems to know how well the morning show has served him in the past.
“Monday Mornings with Trump” was a franchise that Roger Ailes introduced in 2011, back when the businessman was mostly in the news for his racist smear about Barack Obama’s birthplace.
Ailes, the powerful head of Fox News at the time, liked the segments and viewed Trump as a ratings magnet, as I report in my book “Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth.”
“Hoax” makes the case that, for all the justified scrutiny of The Apprentice as a platform for Trump’s eventual presidential run, “Fox & Friends” was even more powerful.
Through the weekly calls, Trump got to know Fox’s priorities and the viewers who became his voters.
The weekly segment on Fox & Friends was tabled the day Trump entered the presidential race. Ailes told him he couldn’t appear to be playing favorites among declared Republican candidates.
Trump tweeted out a thank-you to the “Friends” for the “long and successful run we had together,” showing his respect for the platform and his belief that he’d helped the show’s ratings. He still called in, but now for campaign interviews, which were effectively the same thing. In fact, that’s what he has been doing ever since.