“Fox & Friends” co-hosts, from left, Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade appear on their set in New York in January. (Richard Drew/AP)
Media critic

“Fox & Friends” on Thursday morning played an instructive video clip of Axios’s Jim VandeHei pressing President Trump on his use of “enemy of the people” to describe the national media. “I have to fight back,” said Trump, noting that his fans like him more because of his anti-mediaism. Don’t you worry? asked VandeHei. “It is my only form of fighting back. I couldn’t be here if I didn’t do that,” responded Trump.

“You won!” retorted VandeHei, who must be commended for that flourish.

The back-and-forth between Trump and Axios touched off a helpful self-disclosure on Thursday morning on the set of “Fox & Friends.” After co-host Steve Doocy explained the spat, fellow co-host Ainsley Earhardt riffed:

How frustrating would it be if you’re the president of the United States and every single time you turn on the TV on most of the channels, they’re misconstruing what you say? And you know your heart and you know your words and you know your voice, and then you watch other people report on what you say and it’s completely different than what you mean. That has to be frustrating. That’s why he’s saying it’s fake news. And he’s saying, if you don’t want to be called the enemy, then get the story right, be accurate and report the story the way that I want it reported.

To unpack all the depravity in those lines would require a book. But we’ll try to keep this brief:

“How frustrating would it be if you’re the president of the United States and every single time you turn on the TV on most of the channels, they’re misconstruing what you say?”

Misconstruing? Trump is a contender for least-misconstrued politician in U.S. history. There’s rarely any room for interpretation. As his supporters love to highlight, this is a man who speaks his mind.

“And you know your heart and you know your words and you know your voice, and then you watch other people report on what you say and it’s completely different than what you mean. That has to be frustrating.”

Here’s an argument for totalitarianism: Media organizations, by this standard, are supposed to divine the benevolent intentions of Dear Leader, not the actual words that he speaks. Again: In Trump’s case, he doesn’t leave much to chance.

“And he’s saying, if you don’t want to be called the enemy, then get the story right, be accurate and report the story the way that I want it reported.”

Yes, “report the story the way I want it reported” is what Trump is saying. He wants the national press to do what the New York press once did for him: repeat his talking points, portray him as a rich stud, disseminate his business propaganda. At least one big-time news outlet is willing to do likewise — with occasional exceptions — for Trump the president.

In a recent Elle profile, Earhardt professed her good intentions. “All I really worry about is my little world,” she said. “I do want everyone to be happy and safe.” Odd priorities for someone so accommodating of Trump’s rhetoric.

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