Few in the media are more accepting of pro-Trump spin than the hosts of “Fox & Friends.” Earlier this week, for example, Brian Kilmeade asserted that the Stormy Daniels episode — which involves an alleged affair and a possibly-illegal payoff before Election Day — is “just not a story.”
But counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway made an argument on Thursday’s show that even “Fox & Friends” co-host Steve Doocy found too outlandish to leave unchallenged.
Doocy began an interview with Conway by asking about administration shake-ups, which led to this exchange:
DOOCY: Are there going to be more changes? That’s the first question.
CONWAY: I don’t have any personnel announcements. I have to say I’m just fascinated with all the stories about palace intrigue and personnel and a lack of stories about policy. It really is amazing. Thank God the president himself goes out across the country, like he did for two solid days this week, and takes his message directly to the people. …
And I’m sorry folks, but let me just say I’m going to focus on the policies here and leave personnel to the president. I will tell you it is a privilege and blessing to walk into that building every single day and serve the country we all love. If you’re low-distraction, high-production, you’ll do very well here, and you’ll last the strongest and the longest, if you’d like to.
DOOCY: Sure. Well, Kellyanne, you know we cover the policy. We talk about what the president does every day. It’s just — but this has been a big week for personnel changes, given that. And that’s why there’s this speculation.
Let’s pause, for a moment, to appreciate the irony of Conway — she of “alternative facts” and multiple ethics violations — saying the key to longevity in Trump’s White House is to be “low-distraction.”
Doocy didn’t go there. But he did push back against Conway’s contention that the media’s priorities are out of whack.
Notable exits since Feb. 28 include White House communications director Hope Hicks, chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and President Trump’s personal assistant, John McEntee.
It is pretty hard to argue that the recent turnover, which fits a pattern, does not warrant the extensive news coverage it has received. Plus, Trump himself seemed to foreshadow more replacements when he told reporters on Tuesday, “I’m really at a point where we’re getting very close to having the Cabinet and other things that I want.”
“Close” — as in not there yet.
Moreover, Conway’s complaint about “all the stories about palace intrigue and personnel and a lack of stories about policy” is inconsistent with the Reagan-era axiom that “personnel is policy.” Trump, of course, is an ardent admirer of Reagan, campaigning on a pledge to “Make America Great Again” (a slogan previously employed by Reagan) and saying that the last time America was great was during the Reagan administration.
For multiple reasons, Conway’s argument rings hollow. And perhaps the strongest evidence of its hollowness is that even “Fox & Friends” wouldn’t go along.