Nearly four weeks after Fox News drew the ire of President Trump by becoming the first network to project his loss in Arizona, he gave his first post-election interview to one of the network’s hosts, declaring that the election was “rigged” and “a fraud.”

Trump broke his relative silence by calling in to Maria Bartiromo’s “Sunday Morning Futures” for 45 minutes. It was a major exclusive that he handed to Bartiromo, a veteran financial journalist who has emerged over the past four years as one of the biggest backers of Trump’s presidency within the Fox News Media corporate ecosystem. And in doing so, he bypassed superfans on upstart networks like Newsmax and One America News, which are trying to eat into Fox’s dominance in conservative media — with the help of Trump’s cheerleading on Twitter.

But Bartiromo’s questions were few and far between. Trump spoke for much of the interview, which ran so long that her other scheduled guest, Fox News contributor Ken Starr, was only given two minutes to appear at the end of the show.

And, what few questions Bartiromo asked were not hard-hitting. She also signaled belief in Trump’s baseless, conspiracy-fueled allegations about voter fraud in such states as Pennsylvania and Georgia, declaring at one point: “This is disgusting! And we cannot allow America’s election to be corrupted. We cannot.”

At many points during the interview, Bartiromo seemed poised to ask the president a question, but he kept talking, a dynamic similar to the interplay between Trump and supportive Fox News opinion host Jeanine Pirro in the interviews she has conducted.

The host nodded agreeably throughout the conversation, saying “right” after the president relayed a claim about “cheating” in Pennsylvania’s elections, particularly in the Philadelphia area, claiming that “you have to allow five points for cheating.”

Bartiromo did not ask for proof when Trump declared, decisively: “This election was a total fraud.” At another point, Trump said, “We won the election easily.”

The president praised Bartiromo, whom he called “brave” for covering claims about election fraud, claiming that the media does not want to cover the story.

Trump’s treatment by Bartiromo highlights the always present but seemingly increasing gap between the network’s opinion side and the news division.

More than two weeks after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election, Fox News opinion hosts have started to acknowledge Biden’s win. (The Washington Post)

Despite Trump’s charge that the media is ignoring his claims, the news division at Fox News has extensively covered the charges leveled by the president and his team of legal advisers, updating viewers on the Trump campaign’s beleaguered legal challenges and broadcasting events held by the campaign.

And the president seems to have noticed the network’s news coverage, because he tweeted on Saturday that “@FoxNews daytime is virtually unwatchable, especially during the weekends,” part of a barrage of recent rhetorical attacks on the company — even as he still makes time for his friends on the channel.

Bartiromo also seemed to obliquely call out her own network, when she criticized “the media” — a group that included the Fox News Channel’s nonpartisan Decision Desk — for calling the election for Biden three weeks ago. “The media declared Joe Biden president-elect on November 7,” she said. “They set the narrative that the election was over and discredited any challenges.”

On Sunday, Bartiromo’s toughest line of questioning to the president amounted to requests to hear his strategy for making his case to judges around the country and preventing the election certification process in states. “Mr. President, these are obviously very serious charges,” she said. “And I want to walk through them and ask you how you will prove this in the courts.”

Seeming to buy into Trump’s claims of widespread fraud, Bartiromo said: “Elections are the reason that our young men and women go on battlefields across the world and in some cases lose their lives. Because they believe that their vote, my vote, matters just as much as your vote. And if that is not true, this is a very serious turning point for America. So, this is no longer about you, President Trump. This is about America.”

At another point, she made reference to “impossible statistics” that cast doubt on Biden’s electoral performance, repeating that “there are certainly statistic impossibilities.”

Throughout the interview, Bartiromo’s show broadcast Trump’s claims, without fact-checking them, in graphics known as chyrons. At one point, a graphic on the screen read: “President Trump: Greatest Fraud In The History Of The Country From An Electoral Standpoint.”

While the president made baseless claims of fraud and made notable attacks on Republicans such as Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, the interview made very little news, in line with Trump’s past conversations with such opinion shows as “Fox & Friends.”

But Trump seems to have been a fan. As of Sunday afternoon, he has tweeted four clips from his interview with Bartiromo.