Wholly owned

You don’t see presidents do this every day:

On Wednesday evening, Politico reported that Fox News, the last adherents of the air-every-Donald-Trump-rally-live philosophy, were backing off that policy. Fox News had been a respite for President Trump, who has praised the network for showing his rallies while other networks aired other coverage. Whatever else was going on, Fox could be relied on to stick with the president’s riffs and rants, no doubt to the enjoyment of much of its audience.

But Trump has already held six rallies this month, on 60 percent of the evenings in October so far. That’s a lot of time to devote to what is essentially the same thing over and over. Trump doesn’t have a stump speech, but he does have a stump patter. Pick out a string of four sentences from any of his recent events and they could probably slot, unedited, into any of the others. Why keep showing it? Ratings for the Trump Show, Politico reports, had started to slip below the standard ratings for the network’s prime time programming.

Not that Trump is at all boring or anything. It’s just that – oh look, is that a hedgehog?

So Trump got bumped. On Wednesday night, as Trump had a rally in Pennsylvania, Fox aired “The Story With Martha MacCallum.”

Asked about the move away from airing Trump’s rallies, unnamed White House officials told Politico that they “planned ‘to look into that,’ ” noting that the president’s current director of communications is Bill Shine, who came to the White House after years in a senior programming position at Fox News.

That. That’s what you don’t see presidents do every day. You don’t see presidents “look into it” when a network skips reporting on one of the president’s rallies, especially when that network has reported on all the preceding rallies as if they were visits from the Emperor of the Galaxy. You don’t see presidents leaning on news networks to give them free publicity.

Whether or not it was Shine’s work, Trump was back on Fox News in short order. At 9:20 p.m. — a little over an hour after the Politico piece was published — Fox sent out an alert: Trump would be interviewed in the 11 o’clock hour by host Shannon Bream. On Thursday morning, another late notice. Shortly before 7 a.m., the network informed the public that the president would also be calling in to “Fox and Friends,” his preferred morning cable news show.

Trump’s conversation with Bream and his call to “Fox and Friends” — a show with which Trump once had a deal to provide weekly call-in commentary — stretched for the better part of an hour, combined. On the morning program alone, Trump was given more than half an hour to expound on whatever subject he wished, loosely corralled by the show’s always generous hosts. The content was indistinguishable from the rally content: riffs about his various political opponents, vague assertions about his policy goals, disparagement of the news media. But because it was an interview, and not a rally, Fox aired it in full. And, for what it’s worth, other members of the media who might not pay much attention to a campaign rally tuned in, as well.

This is so ludicrous, and corrupt.


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