Here’s how Fox News reacted to the NY Times story on Trump’s billion-dollar business losses

“What do people not understand about he's a little bit different than most people?”

On May 8, The New York Times published an investigation of tax documents from President Donald Trump’s businesses from 1985-1994, revealing that they “los[t] money every year, totaling $1.17 billion in losses for the decade.” According to the report:

In fact, year after year, Mr. Trump appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer, The Times found when it compared his results with detailed information the I.R.S. compiles on an annual sampling of high-income earners. His core business losses in 1990 and 1991 — more than $250 million each year — were more than double those of the nearest taxpayers in the I.R.S. information for those years.

Over all, Mr. Trump lost so much money that he was able to avoid paying income taxes for eight of the 10 years. It is not known whether the I.R.S. later required changes after audits.

Fox News personalities took to the president’s defense by calling his critics “petty” and claiming that his enormous financial losses actually prove he is a shrewd businessman with “the best accountants in the world” and an “impressive” record of success “beyond what most of us could ever achieve."

  • In the first reaction on Fox News to the story, Fox contributor Marc Thiessen tried to spin Trump's record as a positive by claiming that “Donald Trump has the best accountants in the world. They're going to organize his finances in a way to minimize his income as much as possible to pay the least amount of taxes.”

  • Sean Hannity downplayed the story because “businesses fail every day” and “The Trump Organization is still an overwhelming American success story.” Hannity’s defense hinged on his false claim that the Times story was old news: “We all knew that -- what happened in New Jersey in the casino business, yeah, it kind of went south, businesses fail every day.”

  • On Tucker Carlson Tonight, a Fox correspondent highlighted that the report did not allege any illegality.

  • Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade: “He's a bold businessman, which is chronicled here.” Kilmeade also asked, 'What do people not understand about he's a little bit different than most people?'"

  • Kilmeade later suggested that Trump investigate the finances of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Oversight and Reform Chair Elijah Cummings, and House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters. He added that Democrats are “trying to harass his companies, which he’s divest -- hasn’t divested from, but he is not involved with.”

  • Fellow Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt claimed the investigation’s contents really highlighted Trump’s achievements, saying, “If anything, you read this and you're like, wow, it's pretty impressive all the things that he's done in his life. It's beyond what most of us could ever achieve.” She added that voters wouldn’t care about the story because “he was campaigning on the trail with his plane behind him that's as big as a Delta jet, with his name on it.”

  • Earhardt: “Republicans, conservatives are not going to want to run for office because they know the liberal media is going to take them down.”

  • Newt Gingrich claimed that the story "is actually an argument for the Trump tax cuts” and attacked the Times, saying it “managed to descend” to the “level” of the Kardashians.

  • Fox Business anchor Melissa Francis said the Times story is “just an example of how ridiculous our tax code is.” Francis claimed that “to me there is nothing new” in the story because “I have been in financial news for a long time,” and the report reinforces her opinion “that the president was not necessarily a great real estate developer, that his real genius came from marketing.”

  • Fox contributor Mike Huckabee used the Times story to push for a regressive tax policy called the “Fair Tax.” The “Fair Tax” is an old proposal that aims to replace all income and payroll taxes with a single consumption tax, even though consumption taxes disproportionately harm the poor and favor high-income households.

  • Huckabee also dismissed the story, saying that Trump didn’t even understand his own taxes, and encouraged him to continue keeping his tax returns secret. According to Huckabee, “We don’t even understand our own taxes. Do you think Donald Trump would understand the complexity of his? Of course not.” Huckabee also said that releasing his own tax returns during one of his presidential campaigns was “the dumbest thing I ever did, because all you’re doing is handing your opponents hundreds of pages … out of context to be lifted up into political opposition” and become saddled with “nitpicky questions.”

  • Fox’s Capri Cafaro: “Who cares what he did 30 years ago? It makes people look petty.”

Video by John Kerr