Fox News cut off Kayleigh McEnany and gave Trump exactly what he needed

His favourite cheerleaders are now slowly backing away, but the president relies on being seen as an ‘outsider’ — and ‘big media’ treating his staff this way could give him ammunition for a run in 2024

Chris Stevenson
Tuesday 10 November 2020 18:28 GMT
Fox news cuts away from McEnany press conference

“Whoa, whoa, whoa," said Fox News host Neil Cavuto to the audience, as the network cut away from coverage of White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. “She’s charging the other side as welcoming fraud and welcoming illegal voting. Unless she has more details to back that up, I can’t in good countenance continue to show you this.”

McEnany said she was speaking in her “personal capacity” during “a campaign event” at the Republican National Committee headquarters on Monday night. She was quick to double down on allegations of voter fraud. There is scant evidence of such claims and McEnany did not provide any, although Cavuto said he would be happy to return to the feed if she did.

It was not quite the shocking moment it might first appear — Cavuto is a well-known Trump sceptic. His scepticism is so well-known, in fact, that he was the subject of a rant by the current president during a rally in Colorado Springs earlier this year. Cavuto, who specialises in business reporting, is not in the same mould of the primetime Fox News opinion-spouters like Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity.

However, this cutaway moment does provide a hint of something: that Trump may, once again, become a true outsider. He made his way into the White House with the help of regular fawning Fox News coverage, and he relied on it throughout his presidency. A lot of that coverage continued to paint Trump as an underdog, despite how implausible that may have seemed once he stepped inside the Oval Office. Indeed, much of his campaigning to “Keep America Great” in 2020 stuck faithfully to that image: he was abused by the Democrats, subject to a partisan impeachment, rejected by the establishment, and so on. Now he has been fraudulently denied the election by those same establishment swamp monsters, goes the thinking.

This latest move by Cavuto added to the speculation that Rupert Murdoch — owner of a vast media empire which includes Fox News — was turning his back on the president. As preparations are made for a new White House inhabitant, it seems many of Trump’s former cheerleaders are slowly slinking away. And contrary to popular belief, that might be just what he needs to guarantee future success.

If speculation about another presidential run in 2024 ends up having any merit, Trump’s return to outsider status could be hugely beneficial. Setting aside whether that is what the rest of the country — or the world – needs, Trump proved in 2016 that he’s perfectly able to run a successful campaign without the help of seasoned Republicans. Donations would be needed for a run, of course, and who knows whether they would be forthcoming in enough volume — but the sight of Trump returning to his "one man and his Twitter feed" act will please some. All he needs for that is proof that he’s still being kept out in the cold by most politicians and “big media”. That’s what his shtick relies on.

There are certainly Trump supporters who would have seen the years in the White House as a man being tied down by the very "swamp" he was trying to fight. It's not true, of course, but Trump could make hay out of the belief that he is free of the constraints around him. That is the Trump that voters across the country believed they were getting – their disappointment could be aimed towards Washington now, leaving Trump an easy second chance.

Joe Biden will not find the idea of Trump sniping from the sidelines appealing, but that was going to happen whatever the 45th president ended up doing once he left the White House behind. The real danger for the president-elect and the Democratic Party — as well as some more sensible elements of the Republican Party — is a Trump who can truly claim to be an outsider once again, but with the social media clout provided by four years on the inside.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in