February 4, 2018

One of the things of which Donald Trump reassured his supporters during his campaign rallies was that he--by virtue of being high profile and rich--knew all the best people, so that he could get things done that weren't being addressed by all those Washington insiders.

Yeah, about that...

Even without Michael Wolff's book, it's been increasingly apparent that Donald Trump was more heavily influenced by what he was watching on Fox News than actual intelligence coming in from the multitudes of intelligence agencies available to the president. Matthew Gertz of Media Matters has spent the last year tracking Trump's viewing habits to his tendency to live tweet as he watches, something for which Fox News executives definitely take advantage.

Trump may not be trying to divert the media, but the media definitely gets distracted. Trump’s morning tweets upend the news cycle, with cable news producers and assignment editors redistributing time and resources to cover his latest comments. Statements from the president are inherently newsworthy. But the result is certainly a positive one for Fox: The network’s partisan programming gets validation from the president, and forces the rest of the press to cover Fox’s obsessions whether they are newsworthy or not.

In December, Mediaite put the co-hosts of Fox & Friends at the top of its “Most Influential in Media” list, pointing out “the topics they cover essentially set the national agenda for the rest of the day. Mediaite is not wrong.

And the Daily Beast this week published an article that not only is Steve Doocy and his Crotch Couch cohorts unduly influencing Donald Trump, but that Sean Hannity is playing at outsized role in policy decisions.

According to three sources with knowledge of their conversations, Trump has been in regular contact with Hannity over the phone in recent weeks, as the Fox News prime-time star and Trump ally has encouraged the prompt release of a controversial four-page memo crafted by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee. Hannity has gone to the wall to push for the public release of the memo, which the intelligence panel and its chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), authorized this week in a party-line vote despite the classified information therein.

Sources say Hannity’s persistent advocacy reinforced Trump’s already growing determination to get that memo into the public realm—despite huge potential fallout within the law enforcement and intelligence arms of his own administration.

Oh joy. The network that has you less informed than if you watch no television news at all is now making decisions that have global impact. A network which was devised as a way to be nothing but partisan propaganda that might have protected Richard Nixon from the consequences of his corruption.

And now, as MoveOn's Karine Jean-Pierre suggests, the natural evolution is that because of his laziness and his overweening need to be praised, Donald Trump has essentially ceded the presidency to Sean Hannity and Steve Doocy.

“So now he has Fox News. They tell him, ‘Hey, Donald Trump jump.’ He’ll probably tweet back and say ‘How high?’. I mean, that’s the relationship he has with Fox News. They are definitely involved in policy. Instead of listening to his staff about intelligence, important intelligence information, about what needs to be happening policy-wise, he watches Fox News. He watches Fox & Friends, for the first two, three hours of his day. That is how he gets his information and he’s happy about it because they do the whole ‘Dear Leader’ thing to him.”

If that doesn't run a cold chill down your spine, I don't know what will.

Luckily for my sanity, Shareblue's Eric Bohlert reminds us that as of yet, Fox News has not been successful in getting Trump to fire Robert Mueller, despite their best efforts, indicating that at least Trump's self-preservation skills have superseded his willingness to let Fox News run the country.

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