As fawning as his favorite TV news network has been to his administration -- especially from its prime-time opinion shows -- what would happen if his amped-up tough guy attitude, now increasingly under pressure from investigations and possible impeachment hearings, turned on Fox News Channel?
Sounds crazy. Well, a lot of stuff has been crazy during his presidency. Here’s the scenario:
After a Fox News Channel aired a Town Hall featuring Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, interviewed by Chris Wallace, the in-studio crowd gave “Mayor Pete” -- as he is known, being the mayor of South Bend, Indiana -- a standing ovation.
Wallace was even surprised, speaking above the crowd noise: “A standing ovation!” But the President, who keenly watches every move on the network, wasn’t one of them.
In two May 19 tweets, Trump said: “Hard to believe that @FoxNews is wasting airtime on Mayor Pete, as Chris Wallace likes to call him. Fox is moving more and more to the losing (wrong) side in covering the Dems. They got dumped from the Democrats boring debates, and they just want in. They forgot the people...”
He added: “.... who got them there. Chris Wallace said: ‘I actually think, whether you like his opinions or not, that Mayor Pete has a lot of substance ... fascinating biography.’ Gee, he never speaks well of me — I like Mike Wallace better... and Alfred E. Newman will never be President!
Fox News Channel said it pulled in 1.1 million viewers for the May 19 event -- easily beating CNN and MSNBC in the same time period. Fluke? Now, it seems other Democratic presidential candidates are considering doing the same.
For sure, repeating the exact same level of on-screen enthusiasm may not occur among all 20-plus candidates. In addition, location can be a factor; Buttigieg’s Fox’s appearance was in New Hampshire.
But what if two, three, or four of those seeking high office get similar respectable positive screen time reaction?
Know this: With more pressure from all sides at Trump -- and the presidential election coming soon -- you can expect more blunt Trump tweets. And maybe even a call to action aimed at his base.
Buttigieg responded to his performance with this May 19 tweet:
“The way folks responded to the Fox News Town Hall tonight shows that we can connect with people anywhere while standing firm on our values...”
Values, sm-alues! (Something Trump might say privately!). Publicly, he could tell supporters to turn away -- from all or parts of Fox News Channel, the highest-rated cable TV network.
Although Trump has been masterful at playing the media, anything goes when financial, tax returns, reputation or other pressures come knocking on your door.
And your favorite social media platform is only fingertips away.