Lou Dobbs Tells Donald Trump He Is "One of the Most Loved and Respected” Presidents in American History

Earlier this week, CNN media critic Brian Stelter opened his nightly Reliable Sources newsletter with an item headlined “Fox News presidency.” A reporter at CBS, Mark Knoller, had counted all the interviews President Donald J. Trump had given to major U.S. news organizations since assuming the Oval Office. Fox News was first, with 19 interviews. The New York Times was second, with four. In fact, he had given more interviews to Fox News than to all other major outlets combined.

“At this point Trump should get a contributor deal with Fox,” Stelter’s colleague Hadas Gold joked. Their network, CNN, hadn’t gotten a single interview since the presidential inauguration. The grandstanding of CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta, on frequent display in the White House press briefing room, probably doesn’t help. Then there was the time Jake Tapper asked Trump, during the presidential campaign, 23 times in a row, whether his attack on the judge in the Trump University case was racist (the judge was of Mexican descent). Now he's president, Trump doesn’t need that—and he certainly doesn’t want it.

Anyone wanting to know how a news organization gets into Trump’s good graces should watch the interview the president conducted with Lou Dobbs of the Fox Business Network. Although the interview lasted a full 25 minutes, Dobbs failed to ask a single substantive question. Instead, the conversation was an exercise in flattery. And while that may have soothed the president’s ego, Dobbs failed to conduct the kind of intellectual stress test from which a skilled politician may emerge stronger, more certain of his or her agenda.

There was little stress on Wednesday night.

“You have accomplished so much,” Dobbs said at the opening of the interview.

Trump vowed to accomplish more. Dobbs, a onetime CNN anchor, shares Trump’s nativist views. He listened eagerly as Trump criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization. In both cases, he depicted the United States as having been taken advantage of and plundered by other nations under the guise of international cooperation. He also blamed corporations that, he said, used free-trade agreements like NAFTA to export jobs beyond American borders.

"We are subsidizing the world,” Trump said, and though the statement was made in reference to pharmaceutical corporations, it serves as an accurate standalone summary of what motivates the president and many of his working-class supporters, who feel that globalism has betrayed them.

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The tax reform package that poses an enormous test to both the president and congressional Republicans received little discussion. Trump said there was “great unity” in the GOP (that, despite criticism from many of his party's senators) and touted the lowering of the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. He seemed more eager to talk about bilateral trade agreements that would correct trade deficits with nations like Mexico and China.

The most intriguing segment of the interview came when Dobbs asked Trump about whether he’d made a decision about whom he will appoint as the next chairperson of the Federal Reserve. Trump turned the question around, wanting Dobbs to give his opinion. Dobbs demurred, but then said that Janet L. Yellen, the current chairwoman, “might be worth keeping.” Trump praised Yellen, calling her “very impressive,” but seemed to indicate that he wanted to make his own choice, rather than endorsing President Barack Obama’s.

The mainstream media came in for predictable bashing. So did the Democratic Party and, of course, the Clintons. The two men parsed recent revelations about a dossier with compromising information about Trump that was apparently commissioned, in part, by the Clinton campaign. They also discussed a 2010 uranium deal with Russia, which some believe then-Secretary of State Clinton made with an eye to lavish contributions to the Clinton Foundation. Both developments have received inordinate coverage on Fox News, which the president is said to watch daily for several hours.

Trump indeed made clear his affection for the network. “Your show is fantastic,” Trump said, telling Dobbs that he watches his nightly program “absolutely almost all the time.”

Dobbs later paid a compliment of his own, noting that while "the left" despised Trump, he was also “one of the most loved and respected” presidents “in history.”

Trump seemed pleased. Thus concluded the 19th interview with Fox News. The 20th can’t be too far in the future.

This article has been updated.

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