Merely placing sweet little questions before President Trump isn’t enough anymore, apparently. These days, the treatment dished out by the “Fox & Friends” crew to Trump needs to include a bit of slander for the opposition.

Following a month-plus interview drought, Trump and first lady Melania Trump on Thursday answered questions from “Fox & Friends” host Ainsley Earhardt. The Fox Newser couldn’t have asked for a hotter news griddle. President Trump himself had just tweeted that he hadn’t made any tape recordings of his chats with James B. Comey, the guy he’d fired as FBI director. That was big news only because of a previous tweet — one that birthed weeks and weeks of speculation, and rightly so:

“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Trump tweeted on May 12.

Trump admits he never had tapes of Comey conversations (Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)

Strongly suggest something, then take it back: You can call it sly, sneaky, dishonest, mendacious. Whatever your choice, it’s fabulous grist for an interviewer.

Now look at how Earhardt managed the matter in her “Fox & Friends” interview that aired this morning:

Earhardt: Big news today: You said you didn’t tape James Comey. Do you want to explain that? Why did you want him to believe that you possibly did that?
Trump: Well, I didn’t tape him. You never know what’s happening when you see what the Obama administration — and perhaps longer than that — was doing all of this unmasking and surveillance and you read all about it and I’ve been reading about it for the last couple of months, about the seriousness of the — and horrible situation with surveillance all over the place. And you’ve been hearing the word unmasking, a word you’ve probably never heard before. So you never know what’s out there and I didn’t tape and I don’t have any tape and I didn’t tape. But when he found out that there maybe are tapes out there, whether it’s governmental tapes or anything else or who knows. I think his story may have changed and you’ll have to look into that because then he’ll have to tell what actually took place at the events. And my story didn’t change. My story was always a straight story, my story was always the truth, but you’ll have to determine for yourself whether or not his story changed. But I did not tape.
Earhardt: It was a smart way to make sure he stayed honest in those hearings.
Trump: Well, uh, it wasn’t very stupid, I can tell you that. He was, he did admit that what I said was right. And if you look further back, before he heard about that, I think maybe he wasn’t admitting that, so you’ll have to do a little investigative reporting to determine that.

Bolding added to highlight the single most astounding piece of pro-Trump propaganda since June 2015. Let’s juxtapose: On one hand, we have a lying president who made 669 false and misleading claims over his first 151 days in office. On the other hand, we have a career law enforcement official who was promoted to FBI director in part because of a famous act of integrity; who had won the respect of the FBI rank and file by the time he was fired by Trump; and who has told a wholly consistent and, thus far, largely unchallenged narrative of his dealings with Trump.

So the dodgiest president ever is keeping honest a man of proven integrity. A reversal this comical is possible only on one television news program.