Fox News is continuing its fawning coverage of President Donald Trump’s Thursday night town hall special on the network — and starting to clean up some of the damage he did to himself on the crucial issue of Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlements.
During the special, Trump had a key exchange with Fox anchor Martha MacCallum:
MARTHA MACCALLUM (ANCHOR): But if you — if you don't cut something in entitlements, you'll never really deal with the debt.
TRUMP: We will be cutting, but we're also going to have growth like you've never had before.
And Democrats have already been quick to focus in on this as a major campaign issue:
Fox’s coverage of the event, however, has consisted mainly of talking about how great Trump’s appearance was — and attempting to sweep his comments about cutting entitlements under the rug.
On Fox & Friends, the March 6 episode kicked off with truly sycophantic commentary from the co-hosts about Trump’s appearance at the town hall, which supposedly demonstrated his obvious intelligence and command of the issues — and his superiority to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, as well:
And later on, the Fox & Friends co-hosts and Fox News correspondent-at-large Geraldo Rivera marveled at Trump’s insults against Democratic presidential candidates Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Rivera then compared Trump to a skilled boxer, or even a famous Japanese movie monster.
“He sees the vulnerability, just like a counterpuncher. You know, if a guy’s got his guard up, he gets under there, gets him in the kidneys or in the ribs,” Rivera said. “He’s that kind of politician. It will be vicious. He’s like Godzilla when he walks out on stage. He knows the weakness, he’s looking for the weakness, he finds it, he exploits it.”
On purported “news”-side program, America’s Newsroom, guest co-anchor Laura Ingle said that Trump had been “touting his administration's accomplishments and slamming Democrats to supporters” at his town hall in Scranton, Pennsylvania. But correspondent Leland Vittert discussed how Trump’s comments on Social Security were already becoming the subject of attacks from Democrats.
Later on, co-anchor Ed Henry and Ingle interviewed White House adviser Kellyanne Conway. In what might have seemed like actual, responsible journalism, Henry asked Conway about Trump’s comments on Social Security, and even followed up her denial by playing the video.
Conway then switched gears to talk about other issues, including Trump’s supposed dedication to entitlement programs, military pay raises, and care for veterans. The co-anchors also moved on, with Ingle asking about Trump’s work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the coronavirus outbreak. (The anchors did not point out that the very subject to which Conway switched — Veterans Affairs wait times going down plus the flexibility of the VA Choice program — actually came from the Obama administration, but Trump has falsely claimed credit for the reforms on numerous occasions.)
Later on in the program, Henry briefly discussed a Twitter exchange between Biden and Sanders about Trump’s remarks on Social Security: “Biden starts, he says, ‘Here’s the deal, folks: Social Security is on the ballot this year, and the choice couldn’t be clearer. I'll protect and expand it. Donald Trump will cut it and take it away’ — Kellyanne Conway was on a short time ago, saying that's not true.”
Henry did not make it at all clear that there was video of Trump saying exactly that he would cut entitlement programs, and that Conway’s denial of the actual video was plainly false. The network that elicited Trump’s comments on Social Security has already started pushing them down the memory hole.