The White House/Fox News symbiotic relationship shivered this week when Donald Trump momentarily dropped his own “position” for the instructions he received from his single source of information.
“I’m scratching my head,” Napolitano said, referring to Thursday’s House vote to reauthorize a key part of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. “I don’t understand why Donald Trump is in favor of this.”
And then, just 47 minutes later, Trump was no longer in favor of the bill that his own White House had been championing. In a tweet, the president quoted verbatim the Fox headline from Napolitano’s appearance and suggested that the FISA law had been used by the Obama administration to “so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign.”
The problem here is the assumption that Donald Trump has positions. He has opinions, plenty of opinions, most of them about how he’s the greatest, most successful, smartest person ever. But when it comes to policy Trump mostly just repeats the last thing he heard.
The White House usually feels safe if Trump catches a few hours of Fox & Friends while sucking the leftover cheese from the sheets, because Fox generally just acts to read the White House talking points and surround with ego-strokes for their audience of one. But on Thursday, Napolitano wandered from the path … and Trump dutifully followed along.
And then half the Republicans in D. C. erupted into a hair-on-fire panic as everyone set out to drag Trump from the burger bed, educate him on “his position,” and repair the Twitter damage in time for the vote.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) spent 30 minutes on the phone with the president explaining the differences between domestic and foreign surveillance, as many fellow Republicans reacted in disbelief and befuddlement. White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly also directly intervened with Trump, reiterating the program’s importance before traveling to the Capitol, where he parried questions from confused lawmakers.