It’s possible that Trump is once again laying the groundwork to start his own, Foxier than Fox TV channel or conservative news website—annoyed to have his 2016 campaign plan interrupted by a presidency. But it’s far likelier that this is all make-believe.
In the world of pro wrestling, “kayfabe” is the code of secrecy that demands all players stay in “character before, during, and after shows” to maintain the illusion that a real fight is happening. Trump’s trash talk and the raspberries that Fox functionaries like Hume and Cavuto blow back at him are pure kayfabe. As Media Matters for America’s Matt Gertz has noted, Trump so adores Fox that he’s peppered his administration with former Fox News staffers, and five of his former employees have moved on to jobs at Fox or its parent company. Just recently, former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, among the most loyal of all Trumpies, took a job as a Fox News contributor.
Trump’s faux-fight with Fox is designed 1) to add drama and excitement to where there is none; 2) make him the primary focus of events; and 3) temporarily complicate the storyline so viewers keep watching. Fox benefits from Trump’s periodic attacks (remember when he boycotted one of Fox’s 2016 presidential debates because it wouldn’t dump Megyn Kelly from the broadcast). They make the channel look like it’s standing up to the president, and Fox ends up looking more independent and credible.