David Zurawik

Trump tweets on Pirro's absence suggest Fox feeling some boycott heat

President Trump was upset when he couldn’t find one of his favorite Fox hosts, Jeanine Pirro, on Fox News Saturday night, so he took to Twitter Sunday morning to vent about it.

“Bring back @JudgeJeanine Pirro,” he tweeted at the start of three-tweet mini-storm about trouble at Fox, his favorite channel, in the wake of an anti-Muslim statement made by Pirro last week and the discovery of misogynistic, racist and homophobic remarks made between 2006 and 2011 by host Tucker Carlson.


The tweet about Pirro, who is as a pure a propagandist for Trump as I ever hope to see in my lifetime, was a gift to critics like me who did not know she was reportedly suspended.

For those who missed this latest Fox controversy, Pirro commented on her March 9 show about Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar wearing a hijab.


“Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to Sharia law, which is in itself antithetical to the U.S. Constitution?” Pirro asked.

Amid a fierce backash, Fox News said it “strongly condemned” Pirro’s remarks and had talked to her about it. But Pirro did not apologize.

No talk of any disciplinary action either.

But then, her show was pre-empted Saturday night with no explanation.

I was one of the guests scheduled to discuss Pirro with Brian Stelter on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” today, and by airtime Stelter had confirmed the suspension suggested by Trump’s tweet with one source. Fox News declined to confirm or deny the suspension, according to Stelter. In response to my inquiries, Fox said in a statement, ““We are not commenting on internal scheduling matters.”

Here are Trump’s tweets. And then, you can see video of our conversation on CNN.

But stick around for my takeaways after the social media and video. I think there is some fascinating stuff to be teased out of the tweets, from the suggestion that Fox is starting to feel the bite of the Media Matters boycott and what that might mean for Carlson, to the sorry spectacle of a president playing cheerleader and adviser to a cable channel.

Then paraphrasing, Mr Spock in his own twisted way, Trump wrote:


And paraphrasing Richard Nixon’s last words as he left the White House in disgrace — again in Trump’s own twisted way:

These Tweets say to me that Carlson might be in more trouble than some people think. Remember Glenn Beck had outstanding ratings when an advertiser boycott led to his leaving Fox.

Here’s our discussion:

I am going to take a pass on the incredible inappropriateness of a president telling a TV network what to do, but here’s a another tweet from Trump’s terrible Saturday night of TV viewing directed at a rerun of “Saturday Night Live” that he didn’t like.

And the twisted Part 2 tweet where he again seeks to influence a ferderal regulatory agency:

The good news I see here is that the right-wing messaging machine Trump has been building for the last two years might be coming apart. It certainly looks shakier than when I started worrying about it regularly in print more than two years ago.


And just as I was about to publish this post, along comes another tweet from Trump playing CEO of Fox on a Sunday afternoon.

Just think if he spent this much time worrying about the nation and its citizens instead of a debased propaganda channel.