White House handlers are afraid to leave Trump alone with journalists for one-on-one sessions, unless those interviews take place at Fox News.
In a presidency already filled with cringe-worthy iconic moments, the interview Donald Trump gave to NBC News’ Lester Holt from inside the White House on May 11 may stand out as the most memorable.
Just one day after he fired FBI Director James Comey, who had been overseeing an investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives in 2016, Trump sat down with Holt and, astonishingly, admitted on national TV that he fired Comey because he didn’t like where the Russia investigation was going.
Trump denounced Comey a “showboat” and a “grandstander.” But Trump then also raised the Russia investigation, saying of the decision to fire Comey, “When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.”
Legal experts were stunned, since Trump seemed to advertise to the nation that he removed the director of the FBI because the director of FBI was circling the president. And indeed, the next month, the Washington Post reported that special counsel Robert Mueller was investigating Trump for obstruction of justice.
It’s been six months since Trump gave that hallmark interview, and in during those six months Trump has hermetically sealed himself off from the media — except for Fox News.
During the last six months, Trump has showered Rupert Murdoch’s propaganda network with access and sit-down interviews — nearly 20 this year — while refusing to cooperate with any other major news organization for a one-one-session, as CNN’s Brian Stelter noted on “Reliable Sources” on Sunday:
It's been 6 months since President Trump gave a TV interview to ANY major network not named Fox. https://t.co/pVvze2otBH
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 19, 2017
Instead of agreeing to real interviews where he’d be asked about the burgeoning Russia scandal, or perhaps his documented history as a sexual predator, Trump instead sticks exclusively to Fox News. And there, he’s able to unfurl mighty pronouncements about how “I’m the only one that matters,” or fawn over Sean Hannity at length about his TV ratings.
“I’m very proud of you,” Trump told Hannity.
And note that it’s only Fox News’ official Trump sycophants, such as Laura Ingraham, Lou Dobbs, Hannity and the “Fox & Friends” crew, who are allowed to sit with Trump for Q&A’s. Trump has not appeared on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace this year. And “Special Report” anchor Bret Baier recently complained that he hasn’t been able to interview Trump since the 2016 campaign.
— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) October 25, 2017
For Trump, his media disappearing act is a return to his general election campaign strategy. After bragging about how much free media he generated during the GOP primary season, as cable news viewers were inundated with endless Trump sessions, Trump retreated behind the walls of Fox News for his race against Hillary Clinton.
Incredibly, it appears that Trump has not given CNN an interview since August 2016. (And that did not go well.)
Fox News will always be Trump’s safe space.