At a time in which Senate Republicans and members of President Trump’s own staff are openly questioning his flirtation with authoritarianism, competence to do his job, and repeated defense of white supremacists, Fox News is circling the wagons to defend him.
On Thursday night, primetime hosts on Trump’s favorite network tried out a new pro-Trump talking point — that the president’s impulsive temperament and unpredictability are actually assets, not demerits that should leave us terrified that Trump has access to the nuclear codes.
During The Five, Jesse Watters made a case that the failure of “stable, conventional politics” is why Trump was elected in the first place.
“Stable, conventional politicians have gotten us trillions of dollars into debt, open borders, and stagnant wages,” he said. “So that’s why Donald Trump was elected.”
Fox News promoted Watters’ quote in a tweet posted on the network’s main Twitter account, but quickly deleted it.
This is what they tweeted (then deleted) pic.twitter.com/Gz5ZuPKLzb
— Justin Hendrix (@justinhendrix) August 25, 2017
On Fox News’ next show, Sean Hannity explored a similar talking point, making a case during an interview with Mike Huckabee that “never Trump” Republicans simply don’t understand the appeal of Trump’s unpredictability.
“I was talking to somebody today — it’s a person who was a sorta ‘never Trump’ Republican,” he began. “I said, ‘You’re never going to get it, are you? He’s never going to conform into who you want him to be. He’s not. Look at his agenda — do you support the agenda? He’s not going to be the person you want, he’s not going to fix into the little box you want him to fit in.’ He’s his own person, and I thought we kinda like individualism and courage, but apparently not if you’re Donald Trump.”
Huckabee responded by praising Trump and thanking God that he’s president, saying “he’s a disruptive unconventional candidate, and a disruptive unconventional president and thank God he is, because we are living in an unconventional time in which I’m not sure a conventional political figure could cut through the noise.”
During the same show, Hannity praised Trump for a tax reform plan he hasn’t even released yet.
the tax reform plan hasn't even been introduced yet https://t.co/G7vRGq81d8
— Brian Tashman (@briantashman) August 25, 2017
Hours after Hannity went off the air, Trump contradicted himself within an 11 minute period on Twitter, then posted a third tweet attacking Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who in an interview last week said Trump “has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.”
While Fox News continues to defend Trump on the air, there are indications things are more complicated behind the scenes. A prominent network executive recently criticized Trump’s defense of white supremacists in an email obtained by the New York Times.
James Murdoch, the chief executive of 21st Century Fox, wrote that “what we watched this last week in Charlottesville and the reaction to it by the President of the United States concern all of us as Americans and free people.”
“I can’t even believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen, or terrorists. Democrats, Republicans, and others must all agree on this, and it compromises nothing for them to do so,” Murdoch added. He also pledged to donate $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League.