At a Saturday night rally, President Trump called them the “guys we love.”
Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Steve Doocy, Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo — all anchors on Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, and routine defenders of the president and his policies.
Trump’s supporters applauded and roared as he ticked off the names. “I’m in trouble, ’cause I know I left out probably 10,” he told the crowd.
Fox News host Jesse Watters noticed that one particular name was missing: Jeanine Pirro, a colleague whose weekend legal affairs program airs after his show.
“Well, Judge Jeanine’s very upset because she was not mentioned there by the president, I think I heard her throw a glass in the green room,” Watters said, to smiles and brief laughter from his panel members.
The comment soon provoked a reaction from Pirro, who suggested that no such thing happened.
“Really?” Pirro said on Twitter. “You’re adding credence to the concept of fake news.”
Pirro tweeted her response while Watters was still on the air, according to the time stamp, and about half an hour before her program was set to begin.
Fox News spokeswoman Jaclyn Giuliano told The Washington Post that Watters was joking, and she provided a transcript of his closing remarks.
“By the way she never threw anything against the wall in the green room,” Watters said, according to the transcript. “I was kidding, that was a joke, Judge Jeanine is the best, we love her, I love her, and I know she knows that.”
Giuliano did not respond to questions about whether Watters had decided on his own to clarify his comments or whether staffers had urged him to do so.
It’s not clear whether Pirro was in on what Watters called a joke. Watters started on the network as a provocative, man-on-the-street interviewer with a history of ambush-style questions. He is demonstrably brash, and his style is obviously understood by his colleagues.
Watters’s name also did not come out of the president’s mouth Saturday as Trump name-checked the personalities on his preferred news network.
Trump, an admirer of high ratings dating to his hit show “The Apprentice,” bragged to the crowd that CNN and MSNBC often lag behind Fox News in viewership.
“So we’re blowing them away,” Trump told the crowd, using variations of “they” and “we” to describe the preferred network’s hosts. “And that’s good, because those are the people that love us.”