Republicans go on TV — then they get a call from Trump

  • Every day, Republicans go on TV in a never-ending cycle of cable news.
  • Sometimes, they get a surprising call afterward — from the president of the United States.
  • At least four members of Congress have told Business Insider they heard from President Donald Trump after appearing on cable news.

After one of Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz's first appearances on cable news, he got a call from someone offering some advice.

"Don't let people talk over you," President Donald Trump told Gaetz, the Florida congressman recalled in a recent interview.

From one of his biggest fans, Gaetz has received compliments on a new haircut, backup on an argument, and pointers on his presence.

"He did make mention of the fact that he thought I had found a calling in television, which is high praise from someone who found a calling in television," Gaetz told Business Insider of Trump.

RELATED: 'Crooked Hillary,' 'Little Marco' among Trump's favorite nicknames

'Crooked Hillary,' 'Little Marco,' among Trump's favorite nicknames
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'Crooked Hillary,' 'Little Marco,' among Trump's favorite nicknames

Hillary Clinton

Trump's nickname: "Crooked Hillary"

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Trump's nickname: "Mr. Magoo"

(NOAH BERGER/AFP/Getty Images)

Steve Bannon

Trump's nickname: "Sloppy Steve"

(Joshua Roberts / Reuters)

Elizabeth Warren

Trump's nickname: "Pocahontas"

Former FBI director James Comey 

Trump's nickname: "Slippery James Comey"

(Photo by Ralph Alswang/ABC via Getty Images)

Kim Jong Un

Trump's nickname: "Rocket Man"

Chuck Todd 

Trump's nickname: "Sleepy eyes / sleeping son of a b---h"

(NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)

Marco Rubio

Trump's nickname: "Little Marco"

Dianne Feinstein

Trump's nickname: "Sneaky Dianne Feinstein"

(Joshua Roberts / Reuters)

Ohio Governor John Kasich

Trump's nickname: "1 for 38 Kasich"

(REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk)

Bob Corker

Trump's nickname: "Liddle' Bob Corker"

NBC correspondent Katy Tur

Trump's nickname: "Little Katy"

(Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Chuck Schumer

Trump's nickname: "Cryin' Chuck / Fake Tears Chuck"

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)

Trump's nickname: "Jeff Flake(y)"

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL)

Trump's nickname: 'Wacky Congresswoman Wilson"

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)

Trump's nickname: "Little Adam Schiff"

(REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

Journalist Megyn Kelly

Trump's nickname: "Crazy Megyn"

(Mikhail Klimentyev\TASS via Getty Images)

The New York Times

Trump's nickname: "Failing New York Times"

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Trump's nickname: "Lyin' Ted"

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski

Trump's nicknames: "Crazy Joe Scarborough/Psycho Joe" and "Dumb as a Rock Mika"

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo)

Jeb Bush

Trump's nickname: "Low energy Jeb Bush"

(REUTERS/Mike Blake)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Trump's nickname: "Crazy Bernie"

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Jim Acosta

Trump's nickname: "Crazy Jim Acosta of Fake News CNN"

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)


Trump's nickname: "Clinton News Network"

(Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Former Sen. Al Franken

Trump's nickname: "Al Frankenstien"

(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Democratic congressional candidate for Pennsylvania's 18th district Conor Lamb

Trump's nickname: "Lamb the sham'

(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

'Good Morning America' anchor George Stephanopoulos

Trump's nickname: "Little George"

(Photo by Ray Tamarra/GC Images)

Face The Nation

Trump's nickname: "Deface the Nation"

(Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Former First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond

Trump's nickname: "Mad Alex"

(Photo by Chris Radburn/PA Images via Getty Images)

Former Vice President Joe Biden

Trump's nickname: "Crazy Joe Biden"

(REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

Former U.S. President Barack Obama

Trump's nickname: Cheatin’ Obama

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Trump's nickname: "Little Michael"

(mpi04/MediaPunch /IPX)


Gaetz is one of four Republican members of Congress who have told Business Insider that Trump often likes to give them a call moments after they appear on cable news.

It is no secret that the president is a frequent consumer of the medium. A quick peek at his Twitter feed on any given day shows him often reacting to a segment on the "Fox & Friends" morning show, promoting a Fox News host's program or upcoming interview on the network, or slamming coverage from outlets such as CNN.

The New York Times reported in December that Trump spent four to eight hours a day watching TV, though he has insisted that he does "not watch much television."

"I know he's watching television because he's calling me five minutes after a CNN interview and MSNBC interviews and Fox interviews," said one Republican member of Congress, who requested anonymity to speak freely with reporters at a recent lunch.

He said he had spoken to Trump more in a year than he had with either George W. Bush or Barack Obama throughout their entire presidencies.

"I mean so he's watching, and he immediately engages," he said.

Gaetz, a freshman congressman who has seen his profile grow in recent months, said he often heard from Trump after appearing on TV.

After a recent appearance on "Fox & Friends," Gaetz said, Trump called him to give him a compliment courtesy of first lady Melania Trump.

"One of the last times I spoke with the president, he said Melania had seen me on 'Fox & Friends,' and she told him there was this really handsome guy on television talking about him," he said.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

A spokeswoman for the first lady also did not respond to a request for comment.

'He didn't think that was a compliment'

Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia has also told Business Insider that Trump likes to give him a call after a TV appearance.

And for Perdue, it extends beyond TV.

In a New York Times article last year, Perdue compared Trump to Winston Churchill, the former UK prime minister, saying that like the legendary World War II-era leader, Trump was "nobody's choir boy" and "a historic person of destiny at a time and place in America when we've got to make a right-hand turn here."

"And so he saw that New York Times article — he called me up and said, 'So you think I'm like Churchill?'" Perdue recalled. "He didn't think that was a compliment."

RELATED: High-profile Congressional Republicans

High-profile Congressional Republicans
See Gallery
High-profile Congressional Republicans
Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
House of Representatives Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Senator Lindsey Graham
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC)
Senator Richard Burr (R-NC)
U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AL)
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has also told Business Insider he got a call from the president after appearing on TV, though he said it had happened only once.

"It was good. He said, 'You did great,'" Graham said. "Can't remember the show, but he did it one time."

But one group of prominent TV guests do not appear to be on the president's call list: Democrats.

A spokesman for Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, who often appears on cable news to discuss the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 US election, said the congressman had not received any calls from the president.

Swalwell said his message to the president was simple: "Call me on my cellphone."

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