Regular viewers of Fox & Friends have probably noticed the close relationship the co-hosts have developed with billionaire and sometime-presidential candidate Donald Trump. The co-hosts will go to great lengths to protect The Donald from criticism -- even when their own viewers seem skeptical of Trump themselves.
The co-hosts predictably are defending Trump in the wake of criticism emerging from Republican officials -- and even from other Fox News figures -- over Trump's upcoming Newsmax debate. Fox News contributor Karl Rove said on Fox, "What the heck are the Republican candidates doing showing up at a debate with a guy who says, 'I may run for president next year as an independent?' " while The New York Times quoted Ari Fleischer, a former press secretary for President Bush, as saying, "Donald Trump risks making a carnival out of a serious presidential campaign."
Today, Fox & Friends began its show by defending Trump's upcoming role as a debate moderator. Co-host Gretchen Carlson claimed Trump might play an important role as a kingmaker in the upcoming GOP primary season:
CARLSON: I think what [voters] like about Trump, what they liked about him initially, was that he told it like it was, and they were just clamoring for somebody in society to do that. So is the Trump endorsement a really important thing? I mean, I think imagery is so important in presidential politics right now, and I think it's important to see that certain candidates come and meet with him. And yes, I'm sure they all want his endorsement.
This isn't the first time Carlson has hyped the alleged power of Trump's endorsement; in September, she said that he was one of the "top five endorsements" in the GOP primary.
Yet seconds after Carlson spoke on today's broadcast, Fox & Friends aired the results of a Fox News poll that undermines Carlson's claims. Only 6 percent of respondents said a Trump endorsement would make them more likely to vote for a candidate, while 31 percent said a Trump endorsement would make them less likely to support that candidate. Almost everyone else said it would make "no difference."
In other words, Trump isn't a kingmaker -- maybe more of a deal breaker.