President Donald Trump rushed to Fox News as tapes were being released that he intentionally lied to the American people about the dangers of the coronavirus. But, it's clear that his friends at Fox are starting to turn as they struggle to balance how much they are willing to lie to their viewers.
His adviser, Sean Hannity, welcomed the president on his show Wednesday after blaming former Vice President Joe Biden and Democrats, who didn't have the information Trump did, of downplaying the pandemic.
Vanity Fair's Gabe Sherman reported Thursday that Chris Wallace being the first debate moderator doesn't mean that Trump will have an easy time.
“Any Republican who thinks Wallace will go easy on Trump is badly mistaken. He’s no joke,” Sherman cited a former West Wing official saying.
According to Sherman's sources, the campaign was hoping that the debate commission would choose Bret Baier or Martha MacCallum, two anchors who are more Trump-friendly. Anyone but Wallace.
"In July, Wallace’s contentious interview with Trump featured the president boasting that he passed a cognitive test," Sherman recalled.
“Well, it’s not the hardest test,” Wallace said of the competency exam Trump took. “It shows a picture and it says, ‘What’s that?’ And it’s an elephant.”
Pro-Trump hosts aren't a fan of Wallace and claim he's a "passionate Democrat."
"Wallace has told interviewers in the past that he only registered as a Democrat to participate in local Washington, D.C., elections," Sherman explained.
Behind the camera, Hannity and Wallace have been at each other's throats.
"Several years ago they got into a heated email exchange, a source recalled," wrote Sherman. "At one point Hannity told Wallace the only reason he had a job in television was because of his famous father, a legendary 60 Minutes anchor."
It was a sentiment that Trump then parroted in a Twitter attack.
Just watched Mike Wallace wannabe, Chris Wallace, on @FoxNews. I am now convinced that he is even worse than Sleepy… https://t.co/Mq2Y3kLQDX— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1586720977.0
Fox claims it isn't an "ongoing feud," and the email that leaked is "old." Wallace doesn't "dislike" Trump, a spokesperson claimed.
"Perhaps anticipating a grilling by Wallace, Trump has been ratcheting up his anger at Fox," Sherman suggested.
He's lashed out at Fox News polling showing him losing, claiming that it's wrong or bad, when every other poll in the country shows something similar. After Fox News confirmed the Atlantic report that Trump called fallen soldiers "losers" and "suckers," Trump demanded the reporter be fired.
"Trump has also taken to promoting fringe Fox competitor One America News, which has provided glowing coverage of the president and amplified pro-Trump conspiracy theories," the report also noted.
Privately, however, Trump is blaming the parent Fox Corp. co-chair Rupert Murdoch for not controlling his network to cover for the president.
"Sources who’ve spoken with Trump told me Trump thinks Murdoch wants him to lose," said Sherman.
“Trump definitely thinks Rupert is not in his corner,” said a Republican close to the White House.
Murdoch has told friends privately that he thinks Trump will lose in November. While that doesn't necessarily mean he wants Trump to lose, he may be steering the network to a safer distance from Trump to keep the network from being shut out of a Biden administration.
“This is about business for Rupert,” a source told Vanity Fair.
One source recalled a call where Trump was screaming at Murdoch over the phone over Fox's poll numbers.
“They had a humongous blowup. Trump yelled that Fox’s coverage is unfair and the polling is fake,” the source said. “Rupert defended the network’s standards and polling.”
Trump rushed to Fox on Wednesday to justify lying to Americans about the COVID-19 crisis.