What a lot of people don’t understand is that Fox News is a for-profit corporation like any other major news outlet. The only difference is that Fox has a business centered around feeding convenient lies to conservatives in order to rile them up and keep them tuned in. But even Fox has to maintain relative credibility with its gullible audience, or it risks losing them.
When Donald Trump agreed to do a coronavirus town hall on Fox News last night, he and his handlers must have been expecting a series of softball questions. After all, Fox News viewers are the people who like him. Perhaps he thought he’d get asked questions about how successful he is, or what an amazing job he’s done with the coronavirus crisis. Instead, the audience questions were are all fairly reasonable and topical.
Fox could have cherry picked questions that were about how great Trump is – surely a few were submitted – but that’s clearly not where Fox’s audience is. Even these gullible conservatives are worried about treatments and vaccines, food and income, and the importance of what’s going on right now. Donald Trump must not have expected these questions, because he had no idea how to answer almost any of them.
At one point Donald Trump was telling a bizarre and inaccurate story about World War I. He’d been asked about nursing homes. At another point Trump began rambling about airline bailouts. He’d been asked about how to save an individually-run business with no employees. His answers didn’t even match the questions.
It’s not just that Donald Trump made himself look really inept in the eyes of an unusually sober Fox News audience. The real problem for Trump is that even a lot of Fox viewers seem to be looking for serious solutions and governmental competence right now – and Trump has absolutely no idea how to deliver that or even address it. Serious moments require serious leaders, and Trump is more of a failing carnival barker than ever.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report