"Hannity Has Said to Me More Than Once, 'He's Crazy'": Fox News Staffers Feel Trapped in the Trump Cult - 2020-08-20
Landing an interview with a president used to be a big deal. Negotiations between a network producer and the White House press office could drag on for months. No detail was too small to haggle over: background, time of day, exact number of minutes. Presidential sit-downs were the pinnacles of many news anchors' careers.
No more. Just as he has bulldozed so many political norms, Donald Trump has turned the presidential TV interview into a joke. Fox News lets him call in for talk radio-style rant sessions, the length of which are a punch line among rank-and-file Fox staffers who secretly despise him despite working for his media machine. "When Trump was booked for 8:10, and we had an assignment for 8:40, we didn't bother writing it, because we knew he'd talk until the end of the hour," a producer for Fox & Friends told me.
He called the "Friends" and Jeanine Pirro and Sean Hannity and Maria Bartiromo. Every so often he'd consent to an on-camera chat, but he liked the phone. It made him seem busy when he wasn't. The interviews, if they can really be called that, were subject to his whims, causing no small amount of competition among the Trump bootlickers at Fox. Stars were known to slip ratings reports to the president to make their own shows look more impressive than those of their in-house rivals. Sometimes interviews were suddenly offered to hosts when Trump heard them say something flattering on TV. One personality rushed to the airport for a cross-country flight when a sit-down suddenly materialized. Other times the bookings were simply a product of who had bent Trump's ear most recently: There were side deals brokered during stopovers at his golf club and pitches made during strategy calls."Why don't you call in tomorrow?"