Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Mediaite’s 2017 list of most influential media figures includes a fair helping of compliments, as you might expect from such a ranking. MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle (No. 42) “has made a name for herself with a tough interviewing style.” NBC News’s Lester Holt (No. 39) “conducted arguably THE most significant interview of the year” — with President Trump after the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey. Fox News’s Harris Faulkner (No. 62) “strikes a calming balance between the sort of voicey opinion programs that get the big numbers and providing an even keel anchoring opinion-based debates.”

So you might expect a flood of superlatives attached to the No. 1 entry. After all, they’re the most influential in all of media. Well, no. Here’s the entry for the three hosts — Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade and Ainsley Earhardt — of the Fox News opinion morning show “Fox & Friends.”

The President of the United States regularly starts his day watching Fox & Friends and then tweets about whatever they cover, and however, they cover it. He promotes their show, tags them by name, and sings their praises. That alone makes Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade, and Ainsley Earhardt three of the most influential media people not just in the United States, but in the entire world. Since they have captured the President’s attention – which often then gets tweeted and covered by the media – the topics they cover essentially set the national agenda for the rest of the day. That is influence like few other media figures have ever enjoyed.

So Mediaite, it would appear, knows full well that “Fox & Friends” is the most idiotic and craven and bootlicking show in all of television news.

Yet someone around Washington didn’t quite pick up on the damning-with-no-praise ranking. “I have to take a point of personal privilege folks and congratulate you,” said White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Thursday morning’s edition of “Fox & Friends.” “I don’t know if you’re too humble to tell your viewers.”

And then, out of the mouth of Doocy came the No. 1 cable-news utterance of 2017: “We have not mentioned this. We have not mentioned this,” he said.

Conway continued: “I have to do it, I’m sorry. Roll the tape, please. The three of you were ranked the No. 1 most influential media figures. … Congratulations to you, and I think influence and impact are important because we’re just trying to get our message out here and we appreciate the platform.” The three people on the “Fox & Friends” couch didn’t seem too eager to continue chatting about their distinction.

There’ll be no doubting Conway’s affirmation that the Trump people appreciate all the work that “Fox & Friends” does for them. The “Fox & Friends” team, after all, organized a tidy video press release for the new tax bill with the assistance of Ivanka Trump. “A lot of good stuff in there,” said Doocy, as Ivanka Trump riffed on the provisions of the bill.

It was as if Ivanka Trump and the “Fox & Friends” crew were trying to one-up each other in hyping the bill. “Ivanka, some of these companies are already benefiting. It has not even been 24 hours and workers at some of the companies that we all use on a daily basis are benefiting,” said Earhardt. “For instance, AT&T: 2,000 of their workers are getting $1,000 each before Christmas and at Wells Fargo, the hourly wages are now going up to $15 an hour. … Comcast, the non-executives, the people who aren’t the bosses that make the big bucks — 100,000 of them are getting $1,000 bonuses. So you’re saying, some of these families that are 400 dollars away — they can’t cover an emergency — they’re living paycheck to paycheck: $1,000, that’s really big, right before Christmas. What a gift for them!”

So said a morning television host with a television host salary.

At the end of the interview, Earhardt again revved up her noblesse oblige: “We’re so happy for the little guys, the ones that really deserve to have the extra thousand dollars in their pocket or whatever it may be.”

Oh well. Surely tomorrow’s edition of “Fox & Friends” will delve into how the tax bill is a giveaway to millionaires and billionaires; how its impact on health-care markets — it rescinds Obamacare’s individual mandate — will likely produce a scenario in which 13 million fewer people have insurance in 10 years than under current statutes; and how wealthy senators who voted for the bill stand to reap windfalls.

Doing that sort of coverage, however, might drop the “Fox & Friends” crew from the top of the rankings and into the maw of other television shows that do journalism.

Read more by Erik Wemple:

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