Tough love from Fox Newser Neil Cavuto: It’s not the “fake news media” that’s wrecking you, Mr. President, it’s you
A surprising leftover from yesterday afternoon. By and large there are only two Trump gears at Fox: Cheerleader mode, in which most of the opinion hosts operate, and neutral a la Bret Baier or Chris Wallace. The great exception is Shep Smith, who doesn’t try to hide his disdain for the administration. Rarely do you see an honest-to-goodness on-air scolding of the president that doesn’t come from Shep, especially when it involves defending the “fake news media.” After all, Fox is supposed to be the antidote to the MSM; now here’s Cavuto warning his audience that it’s not the media from which Trump is ailing, it’s his own indiscipline. His tone isn’t harsh, of course — this is presented explicitly as an “intervention,” a well-meaning corrective to help Trump get back on track. Still, you know the Twitter ranting lately has been bad when even Fox is starting to air its frustrations openly. I wonder how far the president would need to go to have even Hannity offering a little tough love in primetime. If he pees all over himself tomorrow morning by rage-tweeting during the Comey testimony, with all the legal jeopardy that entails, that might do it.
Sure sounds like it might happen:
Trump is keen to be a participant [in tomorrow’s Comey media circus] rather than just another viewer, two senior White House officials said, including the possibility of taking to Twitter to offer acerbic commentary during the hearing…
The president’s lawyers and aides have been urging him to resist engaging, and they hope to keep him busy Thursday with other events meant to compete for his — and the news media’s — attention…
Some Trump loyalists outside the White House who are preparing to go on television news shows Thursday to defend the president and undermine Comey’s testimony said they have been given no talking points, nor seen any evidence of a strategy taking shape. One such loyalist said external supporters are afraid to coordinate too closely with the White House because they fear they could be accused of obstructing justice.
This too is an intervention: WaPo’s story on Trump’s plans to live-tweet tomorrow cites no fewer than 20 White House officials as sources. The entire West Wing is whispering to reporters that this is a bad idea with the potential for all sorts of blowback in hopes that Trump will read it and get the message. I wonder if that helps explain Cavuto’s scolding yesterday. It may be too much to ask Hannity (at least right now) to disappoint his audience by criticizing Trump, but someone in the White House might have dialed up Cavuto or one of the higher-ups at Fox and encouraged them to politely warn him away from tweeting. If Trump confidants like Tom Barrack, who planned the inaugural, are willing now to go on record and say, “The tweeting makes everybody crazy. There’s just no gain in doing it,” why wouldn’t Cavuto? You know how interventions work: The more people who are involved, the more pressure there is on the addict to shape up.
Take three minutes to read the full WaPo piece as the most interesting and ominous part may be the details near the end about Trump’s difficulties staffing up to fight the Russia probe, both legally and politically. It’s already been reported that top D.C. law firms refused to work with him in part because he’s a loose cannon who’s apt to undermine their strategy on Twitter. Supposedly talks have also “stalled” with David Urban, rumored to be on the short list to replace Reince Priebus as chief of staff, and at least three people who’ve been approached to join the communications team are also unlikely to come aboard, including Laura Ingraham. No one wants to work for a guy who can’t stick to a script, especially when there are high-stakes legal consequences for the people around him when his temper gets the better of him. But unless Trump can get capable people around him and soon, he’s presidency’s going to continue to flail. When Cavuto says he’s trying to help Trump here, he’s not kidding.