On Friday morning, Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt suggested that military strikes in Syria could be useful to divert attention from the unflattering portrayal of President Trump contained in former FBI Director James Comey’s book.
“If the president, and France, and the U.K decide to strike Syria, don’t you think that story would be a bigger story than Comey’s book that’s released on Tuesday?” she said.
Earhardt’s suggestion came while Trump is reportedly still considering a potential military strike against Syria — and amid an edition of Fox & Friends that was largely devoted to sullying Comey’s reputation.
Friday’s show also included an interview with White House counselor Kellyanne Conway that was entirely devoted to making desperate attacks against the former FBI director.
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 13, 2018
The Trump White House has repeatedly enlisted the president’s favorite network to smear Comey. On Wednesday evening, Trump used Twitter to promote a Sean Hannity monologue attacking Comey with a line of reasoning that is actually very incriminating for Trump himself.
Alluding to an ABC teaser of its interview with Comey where Trump is compared to a mob boss, Hannity said, “Really? Mob boss. Let’s think about this, of all the people, the former head of the federal bureau of investigation, the person responsible for taking down actual criminal gangs — shouldn’t James Comey know better than to make an outrageous comparison like that?”
Operating without a White House communications director, Trump has increasingly turned to his favorite network both for advice and to get his message out.
Trump often takes policy cues from his favorite show. While live-tweeting the January 11 edition, for instance, Trump parroted an argument made on the air by Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano and expressed alarm that the House of Representatives may approve a bill reauthorizing the the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) — despite the fact that his administration clearly and unambiguously supported the FISA renewal. (The White House quickly walked back Trump’s tweet.)
Last month, Trump directly lifted language from a Fox & Friends graphic to attack California Gov. Jerry Brown (D). In March, Trump installed former Fox & Friends host Heather Nauert as undersecretary of state, a high-level position at the State Department.
Lawmakers have taken notice that they can directly reach the president through Fox News. During a Fox News interview that aired before Hannity’s show on Wednesday, for example, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) twice directly appealed to Trump and tried to give him advice.
At end of interview Graham addresses Trump directly for a second time, this time to give him advice on Syria.
"Mr President, you said Assad would pay a big price. To me a big price means he cannot do this again ever, that he will never sleep well at night." pic.twitter.com/ssdQXOR26u
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 11, 2018
Because of the feedback loop it enjoys with the president, New York Times television critic James Poniewozik wrote last summer that Fox & Friends has become “the most powerful TV show in America.”