Trump denies he takes orders from Sean Hannity
When conservative media speaks, President Trump listens.
But he doesn’t take orders from it, he insists.
After announcing his decision to declare a national emergency to procure $6.5 billion in funds not allocated by Congress for a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico, President Trump praised many of the giants of right-wing media, including Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson.
Asked about reports that conservative talk show hosts have helped shape his views on declaring a national emergency, the president replied that he makes his own decisions.
“I would talk about it. Look, Sean Hannity has been a terrific, terrific supporter of what I do, not of me. If I change my views, he wouldn’t be with me.”
Tuesday, on his program on Fox News, Hannity called for Trump to do exactly what he did Friday:
“The important third step needs to happen simultaneously,” Hannity explained to his audience about Trump’s decision on whether to sign off on a spending bill to keep the federal government open. “And that would be the president would need to declare a national emergency.”
Whether Trump watched the broadcast may not even matter. An unnamed White House source told New York magazine that Hannity and Trump speak nearly every weeknight.
Trump had special praise for Rush Limbaugh, especially the radio host’s ability to extemporize for hours at a time.
“I think he’s a great guy, can speak for three hours without a phone call, try doing that sometime. For three hours he speaks. He’s got one of the biggest audiences in the history of the world, I mean, this guy is unbelievable. Try speaking for three hours without taking calls. Taking calls is easy, ‘OK, I’ll answer this one, I’ll answer that one.’ He goes for three hours and he’s got an audience that’s fantastic.”
Limbaugh does in fact take phone calls during his show.
Limbaugh’s withering criticism of a bipartisan December deal reached in the Senate to keep the federal government funded is widely credited with turning Trump against it.
“Trump gets nothing and the Democrats get everything,” Limbaugh vented as news of the deal broke.
Pressed Friday on whether conservative media personalities were helping shape his policies, Trump bristled.
“They don’t decide policy. In fact, if I went opposite, I mean they have somebody, Ann Coulter. I don’t know her. I hardly know her. I haven’t spoken to her in ... way over a year, but the press loves saying ‘Ann Coulter.’ Probably if I did speak to her she’d be very nice, I just don’t have the time to speak to her,” Trump said. “I would speak to her, I have nothing against her, in fact I like her for one reason. When they asked her like right at the beginning, who’s going to win the election? She said, ‘Donald Trump.’ And the two people that asked her that question smiled. They said, ‘You’re kidding, aren’t you?’ ‘Nope. Donald Trump.’ So I like her, but she’s off the reservation, but anybody that knows her understands that. But I haven’t spoken to her. I don’t follow her. I don’t talk to her, but the press loves to bring up the name Ann Coulter, and you know what, I think she’s fine, I think she’s good, but I just don’t speak to her.”
Coulter has taken a cynical view of the declaration of a national emergency.
Coulter has also been credited with pushing Trump toward the December shutdown. After Trump backed off his demand for wall funding and signed a short-term spending bill, Coulter blasted him as a “wimp.”
The president also gave callouts Friday to some of the other heavyweights in the conservative orbit.
“Um, Laura’s been great, Laura Ingraham. Tucker Carlson’s been great,” Trump said, before offering some praise for cable networks other than Fox News. “I actually have a couple of people on CNN that have been very good. I have some on MSNBC the other day, they did a great report on me, I say, ‘Where the hell did that come from?’”
In a 2017 interview with the Associated Press, Trump claimed he “stopped watching” CNN, which he routinely characterizes as “fake news.” After the New York Times published a story detailing how Trump watches multiple hours of TV each day, the president refuted the claim on Twitter.
Trump’s private schedule, which was leaked to Axios earlier this month, showed that the president sets aside nearly 60 percent of his workday in the White House for “executive time.” White House insiders have said much of that is devoted to watching cable news.
In a 2018 story, Politico writer Matthew Gertz studied the messages the president posts on Twitter and concluded that Trump often live-tweets Fox News stories.
“After comparing the president’s tweets with Fox’s coverage every day since October , I can tell you that the Fox-Trump feedback loop is happening far more often than you think,” Gertz wrote.
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