David Zurawik

Trump and the ill-fated Fox News interview: He who lives by cable TV ...

I can't let the media week end without commenting on the incredible irony of President Trump seriously damaging himself in a high-visibility lawsuit by running his mouth in a live, cable TV interview in the friendly confines of Fox News.

He who lived and thrived as a candidate by the free airtime and live interviews on Fox News now appears to be killing himself loudly in the same forum as a president.


I wrote innumerable times during the 2016 campaign about the keen media skills that President Trump was using to lay waste to his GOP opponents and then-Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton. He had found a sweet spot between old and new media that mirrored where we were as a culture — and he mined it for all it was worth.

His most discussed weapon was Twitter. The way he exploited his huge digital following there has already dramatically changed the way political campaigns are run.


But his other great skill was in the legacy medium of TV, particularly live cable news and talk. His ability to call into morning talk shows like "Fox & Friends," MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and CNN's "New Day" and have as much as 30 or 45 minutes of what was essentially free time gave him an enormous edge in the primaries.

And one of the reasons he got it on MSNBC and CNN was because of his ability — like an improv musician or stand-up comic — to hold an audience's attention with a performance that was arresting, unpredictable and occasionally outrageous.

Nowhere did he get more safe, free time than on Fox, especially on his favorite morning show, "Fox & Friends."

But gas-bagging and loud-mouthing it for 30 minutes when you're a candidate is one thing, and gas-bagging it when you are president of the United States and facing serious legal challenges is another.

And so, he came via phone Thursday morning to "Fox & Friends" to vent his spleen about Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and wound up saying something about his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, that is potentially devastating to both client and lawyer.

"He represents me like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me. And from what I see, he did absolutely nothing wrong," President Trump said, referencing allegations by adult film star Stormy Daniels that he had a relationship with her and that she was paid $130,000 by Cohen not to talk about it on the eve of the 2016 election.

"Another gift from the heavens in this case," Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti said of the Trump statement on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show where he was being interviewed Thursday. "They keep coming. I don't know how I've fallen into such good luck in this case, but I'm going to take it."

Previously, Trump had denied any knowledge of any dealings Cohen might have had with Daniels, including the $130,000 payment.


Federal prosecutors investigating Cohen have already quoted Trump's words on "Fox & Friends" in filings made Thursday afternoon.

As a media critic, I love the way this presidency is steeped, marinated and stewed in media. The beat just keeps getting bigger and bigger

But, as a citizen, I know this is not a good way to govern.