Back in May, Fox News host Megyn Kelly asked Donald Trump about his claims in the GOP primary campaign that he was boycotting Fox News over unfair treatment. Did he really stay away from the No. 1 cable news channel? “A little bit, not as much as I want people to believe,” responded Trump.
At this point, no one could possibly believe that Trump would take a break from cable news. If he did, what would he tweet about? Though Trump’s moods may swing and his positions may flip and flop, he’s a consistent watcher of the cable-news programs that lavish him with wall-to-wall coverage. His way of giving back appears to be constant media criticism. Just last night, he was at it:
That outburst of tweets and retweets pertained to an earlier Trump tweet in which he claimed to have won the popular vote if “you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” Pants on Fire!
If you’re CNN, and your reportorial integrity is thus questioned by the president-elect of the United States, you don’t just turn to other topics. You rebut, as CNN’s Jake Tapper did quite convincingly this afternoon: “Yesterday reporters did our jobs — we pointed out that the president-elect’s assertion about massive voter fraud had no basis in reality, citing Democratic and Republican officials from those very states who unanimously dismissed the claims,” said Tapper, who went on to call Trump’s allegations a “conspiracy theory.” “Yet president-elect Trump is now going after those who are simply trying to convey these facts to you.”
What does Trump get out of this? Experts have speculated — perhaps he’s trying to distract from other issues; perhaps he’s bored; perhaps something else. Let us add our own theory: Trump feels the power of his office-to-be in driving programming decisions at cable-news outlets. That’s what appears to light him up.
Today furnished another example, as Trump tweeted early this morning:
Everyone rushed to point out that flag-burning was protected speech. And at least one person rushed to point out that this Twitter outburst may have been triggered by some cable programming:
Indeed, the morning show “Fox & Friends” ran a segment on a controversy at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. in which the U.S. flag was burned. If the tweet was prompted by cable programming, well, that would make for some fine symmetry. Because the cluelessness of the Trump tweet provided grist for cable-news programmers all day long. CNN chewed over every dimension. Again, that’s power.
Now look at some of the people that Trump is considering to staff his administration. Pete Hegseth, Scott Brown, K.T. McFarland, Laura Ingraham, Monica Crowley, Jeanine Pirro are some of the names in a directory compiled Tuesday by The Post’s James Hohmann. They’ve all served as commentators of one sort or another on Fox News. And here we thought cable news was bad at doing cable news; now we’ll see how it does at something of greater consequence and complexity. Stay tuned.