President Trump called into Shannon Bream's Fox News @Night show Wednesday night, after his latest campaign-style rally, this one in Erie, Pennsylvania, but Fox News did not broadcast the rally itself. Fox News also stuck with its usual nighttime lineup on Tuesday night, even as Trump gave shout-outs to the hosts during his unaired speech in Council Bluffs, Iowa — even C-SPAN cut away for other news. (MSNBC and CNN mostly stopped broadcasting Trump's rallies months ago.) Republicans are getting worried that with the midterms less than a month away, Trump "is losing a prime-time megaphone to his base," Politico reports.
A senior White House official told Politico that officials planned "to look into" Fox News deciding to cut away from presidential rallies, suggesting that Bill Shine, the White House communications director and former Fox News president, would get in touch with his former colleagues. But Politico already did that, and the answer seems to be a combination of low ratings, the repetitive and scripted nature of Trump's speeches, the loss of revenue from commercials, and some discomfort with handing over the network's prime time to the president, even a simpatico president like Trump.
Fox News still streams Trump's rallies online and shows highlights after the fact, but with so many of them and subpar ratings, "they don't want to give up so much prime-time real estate," a person familiar with Fox News' decisions tells Politico. "They're going with the route they think will give the best ratings performance." Trump, as a "massive consumer of the media," might "be disappointed" if Fox News drops his beloved rallies completely, a source close to Trump added. But this is really a "huge loss on the state and local level for Republicans, because they're certainly not going to get any of that on other cable networks." Peter Weber
More in sorrow than anger, Fox News host Neil Cavuto once again asked President Trump on Thursday evening to stop saying things that are patently untrue. He listed about a dozen of them, then explained why the favorite White House counterpoint is a flawed one. "None of these make the market any less impressive, maybe just the guy overseeing it all," Cavuto said. "Mr. President, you're that guy."
"I like tax cuts and soaring markets as much as anybody, but what good is it to fatten your wallet if you've lost your soul? If you forget your friends and you embolden your enemies?" Cavuto asked. "I know you'll call this fake, but the implications of what you're doing, Mr. President, are very real. You are so darned focused on promoting a financial boom that you've failed to see that you are the one creating this moral bust." Watch below. Peter Weber
Fox News host Neil Cavuto on Trump: "You are so darn focused on promoting a financial boom that you fail to see that you are the one creating this moral bust." pic.twitter.com/Fnls8tWOyl
— Axios (@axios) August 24, 2018
President Trump's new admission that he paid for the Stormy Daniels hush agreement after all was apparently a bridge too far for Fox News host Neil Cavuto, who spent about 4 minutes on Thursday evening going back and chronicling Trump's history of presidential misstatements, falsehoods, and other euphemisms for lies. In between, he used a brutal more-in-sorrow-than-anger tone to reprimand Trump.
"Let me be clear, Mr. President: How can you 'drain the swamp' if you're the one who keeps muddying the waters?" Cavuto asked, launching into the first of several recaps of Trump's misstatements. "Now, I'm not saying you're a liar — you're president, you're busy — I'm just having a devil of a time figuring out which news is 'fake.' Let's just say your own words on lots of stuff give me, shall I say, lots of pause," he said before another barrage. "None of this makes me a never-Trumper, just always confused," Cavuto said, pointing out that Trump's tax plan will actually make him richer and his poll numbers are significantly lower than any of his predecessors. "That can change, but what's weird is this pattern does not."
"Now, none of this makes you evil, but I'm sure you can understand why even your friends say these inconsistencies don't make you look good or do anything to advance your policies, many of which are very good," Cavuto said. He listed some more "exaggerations and omissions and misstatements," adding: "But it's not what you are omitting, Mr. President, it is what you keep stating and never correcting." He ended with some interesting swamp metaphors: "None of this makes what you say fake, just calling out the press for being so, a bit of a stretch. ... I guess you're too busy draining the swamp to ever stop and smell the stink you're creating. That's your doing. That's your stink. Mr. President, that's your swamp." Watch below. Peter Weber
Fox News seems pretty uncomfortable with President Trump's personal campaign to hurt Amazon, and it's not just resident record-straightener Shepard Smith — though Shep Smith got the ball rolling. "There is a great deal of confusion or something here regarding Amazon and the post office, because none of that, none of that was true," he said Tuesday after playing and debunking Trump's arguments about Amazon and the U.S. Postal Service. "I think it could very simply be put down to: This is a feud between the president and Jeff Bezos," White House correspondent John Roberts said, "and you know, sometimes you have your own facts when you're in a feud."
On Wednesday's Special Report, Chris Wallace noted that Bezos hasn't responded to Trump at all. But "if you own stock at Amazon you are probably not too happy with President Trump these days," he said, introducing a segment on the ethical and legal concerns with Trump's vendetta.
And Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz even took Trump to task on Wednesday. Other presidents have made negative comments about business, he began, and Trump's hit-your-enemies approach "made sense in the cutthroat real estate and development world that he lived in in New York, that he grew up in. It's very different when you're president and a few words from you can decimate a company's stock. Now it would be one thing if the president was proposing actual policies," Kurtz added, but "I think what makes this different, and why the president is getting press, and not even getting that much support from some of his usual conservative cheerleaders, is that the attack on Amazon seems so personal."
"Really this is about Jeff Bezos and his other company, The Washington Post — the president's acknowledged this," Kurtz said. "That's why the fact that other presidents have gone after business matters a little less, because this seems so personal." Watch below. Peter Weber
Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn appears to have lied to the FBI when they questioned him after President Trump's inauguration about discussing U.S. sanctions with the Russian ambassador to Washington in December, according to a report in The Washington Post. But on Thursday evening, Fox News chief White House correspondent John Roberts said that Flynn had truthfully recounted his discussions with the White House counsel and other members of the Trump administration. Roberts also confirmed earlier reports that Trump was informed about Flynn's conversation by other sources weeks before he asked for Flynn's resignation on Monday.
"The president was, in fact, fully briefed on the content of those conversations that Gen. Michael Flynn had with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, by people who would know what the content of those phone conversations was," Roberts told Bill O'Reilly, calling it exclusive information. The White House counsel's office also conducted an investigation, and "under repeated questioning," Roberts said, "Gen. Flynn, I'm told, had a full recollection of what he talked about with the Russian ambassador," telling both the White House counsel's office "and other people who talked to him."
— Fox News (@FoxNews) February 17, 2017
Roberts did not say if one of those people was Vice President Mike Pence. Flynn, after denying that he and Kislyak had discussed sanctions, told The Washington Post he couldn't recall if that subject had come up, Roberts reminded Fox News viewers, strongly suggesting that Flynn was not telling the truth. Peter Weber