Where have you gone, OANN, a president turns his lonely eyes to you … Donald Trump kept his TV tuned in to Fox News Channel past Fox & Friends this morning, and clearly didn’t like what he saw. Slamming anchor Sandra Smith for what Trump saw as a softball interview with the DNC’s comms director, Trump declared “the new @FoxNews” as “HOPELESS AND CLUELESS,” and called for a new network to take its MAGA place:
What touched off this Twitter rant from Trump? It’s this interview with Xochitl Hinojosa that starts at the 20-minute mark, in which Smith asks about the weird polling on Joe Biden and who she thinks will be the nominee. It’s not a terribly memorable interview, but Smith does challenge Hinojosa on ground organization and Democrats’ reliance on race-based arguments. It’s not a puff piece, and Smith does tell Hinojosa to stick to talking about her party’s issues rather than the Republicans at one point:
Worth noting: the guests on the show previous to Hinojosa were Matt Schlapp, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), and FNC media critic Howard Kurtz — who showed up to criticize Bernie Sanders and then Never-Trump Bret Stephens for his Twitter kerfuffle. After Hinojosa, the WSJ’s Bill McGurn came on to comment on the SAT’s decision to back off on an “adversity score” for college applicants. Even if one thinks Hinojosa got softballs (which seems unfair after watching the segment), this was hardly an MSNBC- or even CNN-esque half-hour of television. Just how much flattery does Trump need, anyway?
Compounding Trump’s trouble in selling this is the dedication that MAGA Country has to Fox News. The network hasn’t exactly been shy in selling that connection, especially in its prime-time and morning-show slots. Fox tends a little more toward straight news in the afternoon and does especially well in its formal news hour with Bret Baier, but MAGA adherents are going to find Trump’s demand for a new channel puzzling when looking at a lineup that includes Fox & Friends, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and especially Sean Hannity. And those shows might wonder why Trump’s undermining them after spending the last three years or so being gung-ho over his agenda.
Of course, this isn’t entirely bad for FNC either. Trump’s occasional outbursts help bolster their “we report, you decide” motto, even if they’re clearly MAGA-friendly almost around the clock. And unlike progressives on the other side of the aisle who have a smorgasbord of media outlets with varying degrees of sympathy to their cause, MAGA Country has only one practical option on the cable-TV schedule.
Update: A parting thought from my pal Jim Geraghty: “If Trump really is ready to psychologically divorce Fox News, I hope he made them sign a prenup.”