Larry Kudlow and the Trump-TV feedback loop

Fox, GOP, Trump conspiratorial feedback loop
Fox, GOP, Trump conspiratorial feedback loop

When President Trump wants to make a change, he frequently consults the TV.

He gets policy ideas, talking points, and even personnel advice from conservative cable news shows. The latest case in point: His possible hiring of CNBC's Larry Kudlow to replace departing White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn.

Fox's John Bolton has also been mentioned as a potential contender for an administration post -- if H.R. McMaster steps aside as national security adviser.

Fourteen months into the Trump presidency, the Trump-TV feedback loop is stronger than ever.

Last week, for instance, the president pardoned former Navy sailor Kristian Saucier, five days after Saucier pleaded his case on "Fox & Friends," one of the president's favorite shows.

While there isn't proof of an exact link between the TV appearance and the pardon, Saucier's lawyer told HuffPost that getting booked on Fox was strategic.

Not only does he watch and tweet, he sometimes tags @FoxNews on Twitter to give the network credit for something he likes and praises the network in public appearances. On the flip side, he bashes CNN, NBC and other networks.

Trump calls up right-wing TV hosts like Sean Hannity on a regular basis. On the weekends he schmoozes with some of them at Mar a Lago.

There are also occasional meetings at the White House. Fox's Jesse Watters and Sebastian Gorka were there for dinner with the president last week. Watters later posted a picture of the dinner menu with Trump's autograph.

Bolton, a Fox News contributor (which means he is paid by the network to appear on air, but has other jobs elsewhere), also had a meeting with Trump last week.

"Trump has always wanted Bolton," a source familiar with the meeting told CNN afterward.

Fox's Tucker Carlson disclosed the meeting before interviewing Bolton last week. He also said "news reports, a lot of them, suggest he could be the next national security adviser."

Fox is frequently criticized for acting as an extension of the Trump White House, though network executives are careful to distinguish between its newscasts and talk shows. A new marketing campaign makes that point with a tagline: "Real News, Real Honest Opinion."

While the news side lobbies unsuccessfully for an interview, the opinion side enjoys all sorts of access.

Weekend host Jeanine Pirro, a Trump friend, "interviewed to be the deputy attorney general" during the transition, The New York Times reported last year.

More recently, Pirro has met with Trump in the Oval Office and interviewed him by phone on her show.

Another weekend host, Pete Hegseth, was reportedly a candidate to be Veterans Affairs Secretary. With the current secretary, David Shulkin, under increasing scrutiny, Trump "surprised Shulkin by dialing in" Hegseth on speaker phone during a meeting earlier this month.

"Trump talks to Hegseth regularly and enjoys watching him on 'Fox and Friends,'" Axios reported.

To date, only one prominent Fox host, Heather Nauert, has actually made the move from TV to DC. She is now the spokeswoman for the State Department.

Other ideas, like Laura Ingraham as White House press secretary, never materialized.

Gorka actually went in the opposite direction, from a White House post to a Fox News contributor job.

The Daily Beast described Gorka's dinner with the president this way: "Trump invited Gorka and Watters because 'he couldn't get enough of them on TV,' as one source put it, and wanted to confab with them about what he'd seen on Fox News, politics, gossip, and his administration."

Kudlow has a similar relationship with the president. A longtime CNBC personality, Kudlow has been described as an informal adviser to Trump on the side.

On Monday evening CNN reported that Trump has told people that Kudlow is his pick to replace Cohn, but "Kudlow hasn't been formally offered the job yet and hasn't decided whether he would accept it."

Kudlow used to host a nightly show on CNBC. He remains a "senior contributor" on the network and has a radio show as well.

A CNBC spokeswoman declined to comment on the prospect of him leaving.


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