It is a significant milestone for a president who has relied less on mainstream news outlet interviews compared with previous presidents and for a White House that has gone more than a year without an on-camera briefing from the press secretary, a record.
Half of Trump’s 21 interviews this year have been with Fox, and 30 percent of Trump’s 244 interviews during his presidency have been with Fox News, Fox Business Network or Fox Radio Network.
Last year, over 31 percent of Trump’s 72 interviews were on Fox, compared with over one-fifth of his 99 interviews in 2018 and over one-third of his 52 interviews in 2017. Since the start of his presidency, there have been only six months when Trump did not conduct an interview with Fox: July 2017, August 2017, December 2017, January 2018, March 2018 and December 2019.
Trump’s affinity for Fox is well documented, from live-tweeting Fox segments to hiring Fox personalities for his administration. For their part, many Fox anchors routinely compliment Trump, tee up softball questions for him, allow him to air conspiracy theories and guide him through interviews, examples of which you can watch in the video above.
Meanwhile, Trump has not conducted a network interview since NBC News’s Chuck Todd interviewed him on “Meet the Press” in June. The Post, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have interviewed Trump a combined 15 times since he became president but not once since January 2019. And Trump has not conducted an interview with CNN or MSNBC as president. Interviews with local outlets, including eight this year, have accounted for more than one-fourth of all the interviews Trump has conducted as president.
In many ways, Tuesday’s town hall mirrored Trump’s past interviews with Fox. Hemmer and Harris Faulkner did not press Trump after he compared deaths stemming from the coronavirus to the flu and car accidents, which National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony S. Fauci called a “false equivalency” on Friday.
During the hour-long town hall, Trump was not asked why he repeatedly downplayed the coronavirus threat for months and why his administration has continued to contradict its coronavirus messaging or questioned on Post reporting that he received ominous intelligence briefings about the virus as early as January.
Instead, Trump spent the hour comparing covid-19 to the flu, suggesting New York’s governor is to blame for the state’s increasing coronavirus cases and touting his “perfect” Ukraine call that was at the center of the impeachment saga.
Trump’s reliance on Fox interviews also comes as he continues to rely on gaggles with reporters near Marine One. In those, he sometimes dodges questions by citing the noise of his helicopter.
As the coronavirus has spread in the United States, Trump has started holding daily, on-camera briefings from the White House, which at times have mirrored the rhetoric and length of his campaign rallies.
“I call it, ‘Get it out of your system.’ Give us any question about it, because I think it’s important for the public to know,” Trump said during his 110-minute coronavirus news conference on Monday. ” … Sometimes we’re here for two hours and we’re answering questions. At least you will say that I’m very transparent.”