Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is seen in a television cameras view finder during a press conference at the Trump National Golf Club Jupiter on March 8, 2016 in Jupiter, Fla.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty

Trump makes clear his expectations for Fox News’ campaign coverage

Updated

Donald Trump on Sunday raised a few eyebrows by complaining about Fox News, which the president nearly always sees as a key political ally. The president whined on Twitter that the network was going too far “in covering the Dems,” referring to the Democratic presidential candidates. Trump added that Fox News executives should instead prioritize “the people who got them there.”

As a Washington Post analysis added, it was a remarkable sentiment for a sitting American president to share with the public because it was “an explicit expression of his expectation that Fox News will at least play down coverage of Democratic issues and candidates, if not shut them out entirely.”

At a campaign rally in Pennsylvania last night, Trump went a little further.

“What’s going on with Fox, by the way? What’s going on there? They’re putting more Democrats on than you have Republicans. There’s something strange going on with Fox, folks. Something very strange…. Somebody is going to have to explain the whole Fox deal to me.”

At that point, the president’s assembled supporters began booing, apparently registering their disapproval of the network for failing to satisfy Trump’s expectations.

The presidential comments were vaguely conspiratorial: Trump believes there must be “something strange” going on with Fox News if it features interviews with Democratic candidates. “What’s going on there?” he asked.

To a very real degree, the presidential complaints represented a rather brutal insult. At a public campaign rally, Trump made clear that he sees Fox News, not as a news organization, but as a Republican entity, which exists to advance a Republican cause.

If the network is “putting more Democrats on than you have Republicans,” than it should necessarily be seen as proof that Fox News is straying from what Trump sees as its proper mission.

As the Washington Post analysis, published before last night’s event, added, Trump not only sees a “symbiosis” between the network and his political operation, the president also “expects Fox News to box out anti-Trump voices in the name of staying true to a group he views as their shared base.”

Complicating matters, Trump isn’t making any effort to hide such a sentiment. It’d be one thing if the president whined to Sean Hannity during one of their daily chats over the phone, but Trump is taking his complaints to the public, apparently in the hopes of pressuring Fox News into compliance with his electoral plans.

There’s been quite a bit of coverage of late of various Democrats, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), issuing blistering criticisms of Fox News. But the subtext of Trump’s latest comments were as insulting as anything I’ve heard about the network in quite a while.