There was one consistent theme on President Trump’s favorite morning show on the day after he was impeached: This historic rebuke will actually help him.
“Will this lead to the president being re-elected?” “Fox & Friends” co-host Steve Doocy asked during the 8 a.m. hour of his show Thursday.
By then, numerous others on the show had already said yes, giving a President who watches the show religiously some positive affirmation the morning after the House voted to impeach him for abusing power and obstructing Congress.
Trump could not have produced the show better himself. Numerous hosts and guests said the process was unfair but argued — at times dubiously — that Trump was ultimately going to benefit from it all. Sound bites and video clips were chosen to hammer home this point of view: The show featured a clip of Senator Lindsey Graham, a vociferous Trump supporter, saying that impeachment is “going to do a lot to re-elect the president.”
In the 6 a.m. hour, fill-in host Pete Hegseth, one of the president’s biggest TV boosters, criticized how other media outlets were framing the historic vote: “Everybody’s talking about, [it’s] in the newspapers as well, ‘it’s a stain on the presidency or an asterisk.’”
“Permanent mark,” Doocy chimed in.
Right, Hegseth said, “permanent mark in the history books. Wait until he’s the first president impeached by House Democrats — that’s a very important distinction — to then be re-elected by the people at the ballot box.”
“By America!” Doocy said.
Bill Clinton was impeached in his second term, so he could not be re-elected.
The “Friends” emphasized that the articles of impeachment only passed with Democratic votes, with co-host Ainsley Earhardt saying, “It was not the entire House. It was divided by party lines.”
“No,” Doocy said, “it was bipartisan in opposition!”
Yes, Earhardt said, “because there were three” Democrats “that voted against it.”
Fox’s on-screen banner said “HOUSE DEMOCRATS VOTE TO IMPEACH TRUMP” while the broadcast network morning shows all said “PRESIDENT TRUMP IMPEACHED.”
The President, perhaps taking his cues from Fox as he so often does, tweeted during the 7 a.m. hour, “100% Republican Vote. That’s what people are talking about. The Republicans are united like never before!”
An earlier tweet from Trump’s account, a meme claiming “THEY’RE NOT AFTER ME THEY’RE AFTER YOU, was shown on screen and discussed repeatedly.
“Donald Trump went to Washington to drain the swamp,” Doocy said, “and yesterday the swamp tried to bite back.”
Hegseth loved that. He exclaimed: “Bingo!” Hegseth is a favorite of Trump’s, and has used his influence to great effect, including by advocating for pardons for members of the military accused of committing war crimes.
The show’s conversations about impeachment were largely centered around Trump and his comments at Wednesday night’s rally in Battle Creek, Michigan.
The morning show produced a split-screen of clips from the House debate, showing gloomy Democrats criticizing Trump, interspersed with Trump rallying his crowd and reciting talking points.
Hegseth said it was “basically the Grinch who stole Christmas, Nancy Pelosi, trying to shush her caucus over there, and then you had Donald Trump in Battle Creek, Michigan, celebrating Christmas.”
Correspondent Todd Piro, live from Battle Creek, said, “there was a sense last night at the rally that while Nancy Pelosi may have won the battle for impeachment in the House, in the end President Trump is going to win the war.”
Piro continued to advance this idea while interviewing Michigan residents at a restaurant. Three of the four interviewees expressed support for Trump and disdain for impeachment.
“When Bill Clinton was impeached, he got re-elected. I believe the same thing is going to happen this time,” a man named Bill told him.
The co-hosts gently corrected Bill a couple of minutes later, noting that Clinton was impeached in his second term.
Piro asked the diners: “Does impeachment help or hurt Trump in 2020?” A woman named Barbara said “I think it helps him a lot when people realize how unfair it was.” The only dissenting view came from Carol, who said, “I think it’ll help him among people who don’t care about facts.”
Pirro went back to Bill for the last word, and he said impeachment is “going to help him.” Bill said Clinton “lied to the grand jury” and contrasted Clinton with Trump, asking, “What has this man done? How has he lied?”
Pirro didn’t answer the question. (The Washington Post’s database of false and misleading claims by the president recently topped the 15,000 mark.) The show moved on to other stories.