Trump vs. Fox News Channel

Even when it comes from his favorite propaganda network, Donald Trump doesn't like bad news.

As I noted yesterday, a new Fox News poll is showing President Trump losing to all of the top tier Democratic candidates in a head-to-head marchup. These results are not sitting well with the President, who is now lashing out at Fox News over the poll:

Before he boarded Air Force One to fly back to Washington on Sunday afternoon, President Donald Trump was asked about a recent Fox News poll that showed him in serious trouble vis a vis the 2020 election. Trump, as he is wont to do, went off at length on his once-favorite network.

The poll showed Trump’s approval rating in the low 40s and had him losing by six or more points to Democratic 2020 rivals Sens. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Unsurprisingly, Trump didn’t like that. Here’s the key bit:

“Well, Fox has always given me — I’ll tell you, Fox is a lot different than it used to be, I can tell you that. … Fox has changed. And my worst polls have always been from Fox. There’s something going on at Fox, I’ll tell you right now. And I’m not happy with it.”

“There’s something going on at Fox.”

Now, let’s be clear here: What Trump doesn’t like is that Fox News conducts a credible national poll – like every other network including CNN — that shows Trump’s approval rating dipping to 43%. (That’s broadly consistent with where other national polls have shown Trump’s job approval.)

In Trump’s mind, Fox’s polling should be favorable to him. As should all of its hosts and the tone of its coverage. He has no idea what an independent media organization should look like. He views the world through a very simple lens: Are you for Trump or against Trump? That’s it. There are only two sides — and for a long time Trump has assumed that Fox is in the “for Trump” camp, largely due to its fawning morning show and Sean Hannity’s open advocacy for Trump during primetime.

(As Trump said in New Jersey on Sunday: “I’m certainly happy — I think Sean Hannity, and Lou Dobbs, and I think Tucker Carlson and Laura and Jesse Watters, and Jeanine. We have a lot of great people.”)

But there remain elements of serious news within Fox — most notably in people like Chris Wallace, Shepard Smith and Bret Baier. And Fox’s political unit conducts a serious, nonpartisan poll because, well, duh, it’s a major media company.

Trump’s worldview doesn’t understand that nuances like this can exist. Again, you are either for him or against him. No gray area. Simply put: Trump wants Fox to be state-sponsored TV of the sort they have in authoritarian regimes like Russia and North Korea

So the Fox poll does not compute for Trump. And the way he handles things that don’t compute is to assume some dark conspiracy that is out to get him.

Trump’s use of “something” — vague but loaded with suspicion — is the President’s default way of pushing pet conspiracy theories to his followers. He never actually says there is a conspiracy within Fox to get him, but he knows that his backers pick up on any thread of “deep state” conspiracy and run with it.

See it’s not just that Fox News released a poll that showed Trump short of a perfect 100% approval rating. It’s also that Fox News has hosted town halls with Democratic 2020 candidates. And hired liberal commentators like Juan Williams and Donna Brazile.

Again, Trump from Sunday:“But Fox is different. There’s no question about it. And I think they’re making a big mistake, because Fox was treated very badly by the Democrats — very, very badly — having to do with the debates and other things.”

In Trump’s mind, that’s proof that “something” is going on at Fox.

This isn’t the first time that Trump has attacked Fox News in general or particular hosts in particular. While he continues to praise the propagandists such as Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity who dominate the weeknight schedule on the channel, as well as the softball-throwing hosts on Fox & Friends who treat him with kid gloves and provide him with much of his morning Twitter material, he hasn’t hesitated to attack others on the network who are far less obsequious to him. This includes people such as Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry, FNC hosts like Bret Baier and Shephard Smith, both of whom tend to be much more “hard news” than their colleagues, and Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, all of whom have not held back in being critical of the President and holding Administration officials who appear on their shows to account.

In his case, though, Trump isn’t just criticizing a single FNC host, he’s attacking the entire network because he doesn’t like the results of their most recent poll. This despite the fact that FNC and its pollster have been fairly highly ranked by Nate Silver and others in recent years. The reason for this, of course, is that they’re delivering bad news to him and if there’s one thing Donald Trump doesn’t like it is bad news. He seems to believe that the job of the media in general, and Fox News in particular, is to make him look good, so when this poll, which like the poll that is run by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal, is conducted by a partnership involving pollsters from both sides of the political aisle, presents him with bad news he assumes that it means that there’s “something wrong” at Fox News. This says as much about what Trump expects from FNC as it does about Trump’s own narcissistic personality disorder.

The other thing at play here is that this is another sign that there has been at least some effort by the news side of Fox News Channel to stay separate from the opinion-based programming. This hasn’t been entirely successful, of course, but it does show that in the long run hitching themselves to the political star of Donald Trump may not be the best thing for business after all.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Donald Trump, Media, Politicians, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Please pass the popcorn.

  2. Teve says:
  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    To paraphrase Captain America…

    can you imagine Fox News if Obama had called himself the chosen one? Everyone at Fox would look like they just peeked inside the Ark of the Covenant.

    Separation? Phooey!!! Don’t let yourself be conned. Fox and Trump are one. Thus it has always been, and will always be.

  4. Moosebreath says:

    “Trump vs. Fox News Channel”

    Can we root for injuries?

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  5. Kathy says:

    It’s amazing how little it takes to make Dennison enraged.

    And I say this as someone with a short fuse myself. I get annoyed and every knock on the door, and every time the phone rings.

  6. mattbernius says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    can you imagine Fox News if Obama had called himself the chosen one?

    Hey, let’s not forget that Hannity constantly attacked liberals and the media for presenting Obama as a messianic figure (“the anointed one” etc).

    Again, Trump is EVERYTHING the CMC accused Obama of being, but turned to 11.

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  7. CSK says:

    @Teve: Yes, he has. OANN is clearly much more compliant.

  8. michael reynolds says:

    This is the typical pattern of psychological decay so often evident in tyrants and wanna-be tyrants. In the end the world fails them, you see. They are gods, they are omniscient, how dare anyone question them? Stalin spiraling ever downward in paranoia, Hitler in his bunker ranting as he deployed non-existent armies that Germany had failed him, Nixon wandering the halls of the White House drunk and talking to paintings.

    It’s the slow-motion collision of delusion and reality. No amount of murder could make Stalin feel secure. There were no more armies out there waiting on Hitler’s commands. And the tapes had lit a fuse under Nixon that nothing could extinguish.

    Trump suffers from a cluster of personality disorders exacerbated by stress, fear, old age and possibly dementia. There is no happy ending to this story. Reality has come for Mr. Trump. It’s coming as well for his contemptible cronies, his pathologically dishonest defenders, and even in the end for the ‘Good Germans’ who spent the three years of madness still obsessing over Hillary and telling themselves they weren’t absolute fools to tolerate this malignant piece of human garbage.

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  9. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    and possibly dementia.

    And quite likely, syphilis.

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  10. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Sorry Doug…your thesis died on the table…it has just been announced that Sarah Sanders is joining Fox.
    Timing, in life, is everything.
    https://variety.com/2019/tv/news/sarah-huckabee-sanders-fox-news-contributor-1203310352/

  11. Teve says:

    I saw an interview with Russell Crowe about the new show where he plays roger ailes, and he said ailes’s big claim was, “In the future, political parties will become tv channels.”

  12. grumpy realist says:

    I have nothing but contempt for Trump and his supporters because of their inability to admit when they are wrong.

    Reality always bats last, and always wins. If you like to hear fairy stories because it makes you feel better about yourself, you can surround yourself with as many worshipers as you please–but at some point the whole mess will come crashing down on you. The USSR discovered this the hard way with their massaged statistics and fake stories about How Well The Economy Is Doing. The U.K. will discover this about Brexit and how optimism can’t make up for lack of planning. And Trump and his supporters will discover the same about their interpretation of what is going on.

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  13. michael reynolds says:

    Soon we’ll start getting the Trump toadies who insist he was fine, just fine until an evil conspiracy of MSM and Democrats and never forget Hillary eating babies in a pizza parlor, were so mean to Trump that it’s their fault he’s fkin nuts.

    The danger is that the Trumpaloons have leaned so far into crazy that there’s no way back. They’ll try the ‘it’s not his fault, it’s a conspiracy!’ bullshit. They’ll try the ‘he was too good for the world’ line, blaming the deep state and a corrupt culture blah blah blah. But there’s no way for an evangelical Christian to walk back from ‘kids in cages denied vaccines.’ They’ll either be the equivalent of flat-earthers, this crazy fringe. Or they’ll lapse into grumbling silence like so many of our local Trumpaloons seem to have done. Or they’ll end up in packs of sweaty grunting fat guys in camo stroking their weapons and blaming the Jews.

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  14. Moosebreath says:

    @michael reynolds:

    “The danger is that the Trumpaloons have leaned so far into crazy that there’s no way back.”

    As I pointed out in another thread, the toadies are selling T-shirts with Greenland as part of the US.

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  15. Kathy says:

    @Moosebreath:

    As I pointed out in another thread, the toadies are selling T-shirts with Greenland as part of the US.

    That’s really depressing.

    Even if El Cheeto were really serious, as he is with the fence he thinks is a wall, this is really very unlikely to happen, even if it made any sense (it does not). What’s he going to do? Impose tariffs on Denmark until they decide to sell?

    I don’t think he’s crazy enough to try a naval blockade of Denmark, or that the GOP is so enthralled as to support one, if he even knows what a blockade is.

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  16. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Trump suffers from a cluster of personality disorders exacerbated by stress, fear, old age and possibly dementia. There is no happy ending to this story.

    You really have to learn to be more optimistic, and take what small victories life gives you. No happy ending? Trump is very unhappy, and that’s a happy ending in my book.

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  17. Moosebreath says:

    @Kathy:

    “What’s he going to do? Impose tariffs on Denmark until they decide to sell?”

    Don’t give him any ideas.

    “I don’t think he’s crazy enough to try a naval blockade of Denmark, or that the GOP is so enthralled as to support one, if he even knows what a blockade is.”

    Since he proposed one for Venezuela, I am afraid he does. However, he cited the Cuban experience as a model, which means he is woefully ignorant of how well they work (among the universe of things he is woefully ignorant of).

  18. Kathy says:

    At that, blockading an island is far more effective than blockading a country with land borders. but outside of fiction, they take years to have enough effect (see Germany in WWI, and that involved an effing world war).

    Tariffs seem to be his first, last, and only solution to every international problem where sanctions would be going too far even for him.

  19. charon says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Trump suffers from a cluster of personality disorders exacerbated by stress, fear, old age and possibly dementia.

    In addition to all of those, add a reading comprehension disorder that makes him reluctant to even look at any information that comes to him in printed form, even half-page briefings

    .@grumpy realist:

    I have nothing but contempt for Trump and his supporters because of their inability to admit when they are wrong.

    By now his support is largely evangelical Christians who by nature (and indoctrination/training) are pretty unshakeable in whatever beliefs they commit to.

  20. charon says:

    @Kathy:

    What’s he going to do? Impose tariffs on Denmark until they decide to sell?

    I don’t think he’s crazy enough to try a naval blockade of Denmark, or that the GOP is so enthralled as to support one, if he even knows what a blockade is.

    That can not work. Denmark’s ability to sell Greenland is comparable to Britain’s ability to sell Canada. (Pretty similar situation actually).

  21. Fortunato says:

    ‘kids in cages denied vaccines.’

    We should make this the defining slogan for the collective nightmare that was Donald Trump.
    Like a scarlet letter, Eeevangelicals and Republicans should be forever be forced to wear this horrific stain.

    Trump’s portrait in the White House should be a simple framed sheet of paper, containing only the phrase: ‘kids in cages denied vaccines.’
    Next to this ‘portrait’ we can hang Melania’s, “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” jacket.

    We should employ a Gutzon Borglum ancestor to carve into Mt Rushmore;
    ‘kids in cages denied vaccines.’

    On the Lincoln Tunnel, Golden Gate Bridge and St. Louis Arch we should engrave: ‘kids in cages denied vaccines.’

    Like slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow, McCarthyism, the Edmond Pettus Bridge and more, as a nation we should never be allowed to forget the mindless depravity exhibited by 40% of our fellow Murricans in 2016 and beyond.

  22. Kathy says:

    @charon:

    That can not work.

    When has that ever stopped him before?

    Denmark’s ability to sell Greenland is comparable to Britain’s ability to sell Canada.

    I’m certain he’s totally unaware of that.

  23. Kathy says:

    The odds that Dennison will decide to drop out of the race because he can’t win reelection must be like 2016 to 1 😉

  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy:

    Denmark’s ability to sell Greenland is comparable to Britain’s ability to sell Canada.

    I’m certain he’s totally unaware of that.

    The question is, does Boris know that?

  25. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    He might, if Moose & Squirrel can tell him.

  26. DrDaveT says:

    He has no idea what an independent media organization should look like.

    I don’t think this conclusion is justified. I think it’s just as likely that he knows perfectly well what independent media would be like, and hates it. He knows what Fox News should look like, given the niche they have staked out — who’s to say he’s wrong for calling them out on their inconsistency?

    It’s absurd to think that some pieces of FNN can retain their claim of objectivity while in the pay of the same people who happily foist Hannity and Ingraham on the world. You might as well argue that just because the Tobacco Institute is funding your research doesn’t mean you can’t be objective about the effects of smoking. We might suggest that the researcher find a better source of funding; Trump is suggesting that the researcher be more diligent about doing what his employers are paying him to do.