Fox Business host Lisa Kennedy Montgomery and Reason magazine Editor at Large Matt Welch criticized Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt over his numerous ethical lapses and misuse of taxpayer money during a panel discussion on the June 18 episode of Fox Business’ Kennedy. Montgomery and Welch took offense at the barrage of scandals that have enmeshed Pruitt, and Welch labeled Pruitt an “incompetent, corrupt boob.”
Fox Business joins a number of other right-wing media outlets and figures that have publicly voiced frustration with Pruitt’s scandals; in some cases they have even called for the ouster of the EPA chief, who had previously been popular with conservatives.
Pruitt used to have a friendly relationship with Fox networks. In addition to appearing on Fox News 16 times during his first year at the EPA, Pruitt also appeared on Fox Business eight times, compared to just two on CNBC, its main competitor. And Fox News and Fox Business often avoided reporting on Pruitt's scandals or ran segments defending him. However, after Pruitt’s testy April 4 interview with Fox News’ Ed Henry, Pruitt has not made an appearance on either of the Fox networks.
From the June 18 episode of Fox Business’ Kennedy:
LISA KENNEDY MONTGOMERY (HOST): Welcome back. President Trump continues to stand by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, despite mounting allegations of ethics violations against him so far. Pruitt has spent 1,500 taxpayer dollars on customized fountain pens for himself. Well done there, Scottie. Last year, he took a trip to Italy and taxpayers paid more than 100 grand on meals and private tours. That's a great job! He even built a personal soundproof phone booth -- at a $43,000 price tag. And over the weekend, a Democratic lawmaker started pressing for answers on how a public relations bigwig got Pruitt Rose Bowl tickets. The president hasn't totally lost faith in his EPA chief. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I am looking at Scott, and Scott’s done a fantastic job at EPA. But -- you know, we'll make -- I'm not happy about certain things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MONTGOMERY: No. So, why is the president standing by Pruitt? The panel is back: Matt Welch, Jimmy Failla, and Jehmu Greene. I think that Scott Pruitt is a very entertaining character. And if you know you're going to be fired, you got to go out big. Unfortunately, you can't do it on taxpayer money?
MATT WELCH: Even getting your wife a job? It hasn't worked in a long time. I think it's one of the best conspiracy theories going because it doesn't make any sense. We've seen that Trump doesn't like this type of behavior. Don't do the Mickey Mouse stuff with the planes and this kind of stuff.
MONTGOMERY: Sure. That's not right.
WELCH: He doesn't like that. So, why -- since there's about five of these stories per week for Scott Pruitt -- the going theory is that he wants to keep him around in case he ever gets to fire Jeff Sessions, and then he'll slide him over. My theory is that --
MONTGOMERY: I don't buy that theory.
WELCH: I don't either. And my theory is this: When you talk about deregulation -- and Trump has been the most deregulatory president since Ronald Reagan, and perhaps more so according to some people -- what is the area in which regulation has been strongest and where deregulation can do the most? It is the Environmental Protection Agency because they've had a default mindset of regulating stuff for a really long time. They do about half of all kind of big new regulations. And so, having someone with that mindset there -- even if he's an incompetent, corrupt boob, which he is by all reports -- then maybe you want to have someone who's still going to carry out that agenda because whoever you have to replace him won't do it.
MONTGOMERY: I love deregulation. It might be my favorite part of the Trump administration. I also like that he makes people mad for no reason. Sometimes with good reason, but sometimes for no reason at all. That I also very much enjoy. But I don't like the spending of the taxpayer money.
JEHMU GREENE (FOX CONTRIBUTOR): Yeah, right?
MONTGOMERY: Yeah, right?
GREENE: What else does have to do? Here's my theory: I think that actually Trump sees a little bit of himself in Scott Pruitt and is impressed with his swagger. And you know, I mean, there's some similar comparisons when it looked -- when you think of what Trump did with his foundation to what Scott Pruitt is doing with taxpayer dollars.
MONTGOMERY: It's unnecessary for an EPA head to have 24-hour security. I mean, that's just me if you [INAUDIBLE] with the government traditionally.
GREENE: Have you seen Scott Pruitt?
MONTGOMERY: Yeah, he can handle himself. Exactly. The guy is a secret ninja. But I do respect that he has -- if he's going to violate the rules a little bit, having his detail go to the Ritz Carlton in the middle of the night to steal lotion. It's a solid move, Jim.
JIMMY FAILLA (COMEDIAN): He's amazing. He's behaving like an identity thief, but he let his name out. I think the president likes having him around because he has someone who's under more investigations than he is, which is -- it's like, you know, when the pretty good-looking girl goes everywhere with the ugly friend and it makes her look that much hotter.
FAILLA: But he's not going anywhere because it is -- it's a trolling exercise. He knows how badly they want him fired. If people shut up about Pruitt, he'd probably fire him. But the more they carry on about “fire Pruitt,” the less likely he is to let him go.