It feels like there have been a million debates, interviews and town hall events in this election cycle. The presidential candidates on both sides have seemingly appeared on every network in every format. And most of the town hall events follow a similar script: A moderator asks a few quick questions about the most recent news that involves whichever candidate is on stage. Then they switch to audience questions, with a few moderator follow-ups.
But Donald Trump’s hour-long interview Monday on Fox News, moderated by Sean Hannity, was different. Not like a town hall. Not even like an interview.
It felt like a Trump rally — an hour-long infomercial, almost.
From the moment Trump took the stage, the obviously pro-Trump crowd cheered wildly, chanted raucously and booed the establishment at every chance. (Audiences are typically asked not to cheer during debates, and at most town hall events.)
And it wasn’t just the crowd that appeared to be on Trump’s side; it was the moderator, too.
Remember when Chris Matthews repeatedly pushed Trump on abortion during his MSNBC town hall last week? This was pretty much the opposite.
Hannity didn’t just lob softball questions. He actually defended Trump’s positions — agreeing openly with him about the Michelle Fields controversy and pulling out one of The Donald’s favorite tactics — quoting one outlier poll that showed Trump winning in Wisconsin, despite the fact that almost every other poll shows Ted Cruz winning.
And Hannity appeared to take aim at the GOP establishment itself when he addressed the crowd directly, asking how many attendees would want Trump to walk out of a contested convention, or how many would refuse to vote for another candidate.
While Trump has repeatedly been at odds with Fox News over the course of this campaign, there was no evidence of a bad relationship at Monday’s town hall. In fact, the candidate and the moderator seemed very much on the same page.