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Opinion Trump credits ‘Fox & Friends’ for his political rise

Talk to detractors of President Trump and you’ll hear theories about the media organizations that assisted him in his rise to national prominence. There are the New York tabloids, which elevated his celebrity. There’s CNN and other television outlets, which took many of his rallies live, providing essentially free advertising for his presidential campaign.

And then there’s “Fox & Friends,” the morning show on Fox News that has served as a promotional platform and unblinking lackey farm for Trump dating back to spring 2011, when the mogul started calling in to the program on Monday mornings. Well, the whole gang — Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade — got together for an interview with the commander in chief that aired this morning.

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The bonhomie was strong. “You have treated me very fairly and I appreciate it,” said the president after Doocy thanked him for a favorable mention at a presidential press conference this month. “I’ve been a friend of your show for a long time,” continued the president. “Remember those call-ins, right?… Maybe without those call-ins, somebody else is sitting here.”

We can never know for sure. Those sessions, however, allowed Trump to reach an audience of sympathetic Fox News viewers, where he tested out all manner of talking points with minimal to zero resistance from the co-hosts. “Taking the oil” after the Iraq war; executing Edward Snowden; inane talk about climate change — Trump had a blast free-associating on the highest-rated cable-news morning show. It was his personal media bubble. And if you think that his eventual primary opponents didn’t envy his “in” with the program, consider this anecdote about Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

So maybe we should trust Trump — credibility issues notwithstanding — when he credits “Fox & Friends” for his political ascent.

One addendum: This blog has repeatedly trashed “Fox & Friends” for its wonderful, sweet treatment of Trump, a tradition that we fully expected would continue into this pre-congressional-address interview bonanza. It didn’t: The Fox News morning crew may not have met the Chris Wallace-Jake Tapper-Megyn Kelly standard, but they managed to press the president on the key issues of the day, and shed more light on his personality. Seizing on a statement by Trump that he can accept bad media coverage when it’s justified, Kilmeade asked him to identify an illustrative example. Trump couldn’t. Superlative work by Kilmeade.