He won the White House and dazzled the political universe, but Donald Trump is apparently so bitter and aggrieved, indeed seething with resentments, that not even Sean Hannity can make him look happy.
For a layman, as opposed to a mental health professional, it’s impossible to fathom why the 45th president of the United States is so angry at a world which, by all appearances, has favored him so handsomely.
Yet, in a conversation that was was taped Thursday afternoon at the White House and broadcast at 10 p.m. on Hannity, Trump used much of the time with his favorite Fox News host to settle scores with perceived enemies and complain about the many injustices visited upon him by fools.
This, despite the best efforts of his enabler—who, in fairness, did everything humanly possible to flatter and soothe his wounded friend. Hannity, of course, had supported Trump’s candidacy so ardently last year that he violated Fox News policy to appear in a pro-Trump campaign video.
Indeed, Hannity dutifully led his champion through nearly all of his talking points about job creation, infrastructure, building the wall, repealing and replacing Obamacare, destroying ISIS and other ideas Trump apparently has been confecting to make America great again, while each segment between commercials was punctuated by hero shots and dramatic video of Trump looking fearless and presidential.
But like the man-sized embodiment of a tongue ceaselessly testing a tender tooth, Trump couldn’t stop himself from going over and over—and over—much of the same livid territory he explored on Wednesday night with ABC News anchor David Muir.
The president reiterated his objections to the terrible, horrible, dishonest media, bellyached about the accurate reporting concerning the reduced size of his inaugural crowd, ascribed evil motives to a Time magazine writer’s mistaken observation that the bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office, and added several more grievances for good measure.
At Hannity’s prompting, Trump erroneously accused NBC and Saturday Night Live of attacking his 10-year-old son, Barron—never mind that after an SNL writer stupidly aimed a tweeted joke at the boy, the network immediately suspended her indefinitely and she offered an abject apology.
“A person from Saturday Night Live was terrible,” the president declared. “It’s a failing show, it’s not funny, Alec Baldwin’s a disaster. He’s terrible on the show and by the way, I don’t mind some humor but it’s terrible. But for them to attack, for NBC to attack my 10-year-old son—”
“Horrible,” Hannity chimed in.
“It’s a disgrace,” the Leader of the Free World agreed.
Trump also complained about the leaders of the House and Senate Democrats, who, after a bipartisan meeting Monday at the White House, relayed to the press his nutty claim, embellished by eccentric details, that he would have won the popular vote, instead of losing by nearly three million votes, if only three to five million million fraudulent ballots had not been cast by dead people and illegal aliens for Hillary Clinton (a subject, by the way, that the Republican congressional leadership would like to forget and Hannity prudently left unexplored).
“I go to a meeting with them that’s supposed to be a very quiet meeting. Nobody talking outside of the meeting,” the president recounted about his session with the congressional leadership. “They leave the meeting and they have a news conference about what I said. They’re talking to the cameras about exactly what I said at the meeting, which is fine. Because I say things that I don’t mind going out, because I assume they’re going to do that. But the deal was, we wouldn’t talk to the press. And they go out and they talk to the press.”
“Leaking in Washington? That’s a shock,” Hannity quipped.
“No, no,” Trump corrected. “But I mean to talk to the press 15 feet away from the door!”
“Let me give one other,” the president told Hannity at another point. “I went to the CIA, my first stop,” he continued. “Because I have great respect for intelligence. Not the man who headed the CIA,” he added, referring to Obama CIA director John Brennan, who blasted Trump for giving a self-aggrandizing speech on Saturday in front of the CIA’s memorial wall honoring 117 employees who died in the line of duty. “I don't have any respect for him. But Brennan, I didn't think he was good.”
Trump, of course, couldn’t resist giving his much-criticized CIA remarks a rave review, confiding that it “was a 10 relatively speaking. I had a standing ovation like you wouldn't believe. Everybody. And it was such a success…
“Fox treated it great. They said it was great,” the president hardly needed to add.
The cheerless sit-down in the Red Room—in which the two sat opposite each other in straight-back chairs, six feet apart—was followed by a stroll down the outdoor walkway beside the Rose Garden and a tour of the Oval, where Trump pointed out the MLK Jr. bust in its usual place of honor, right where former president Obama had installed it.
“The bust of Martin Luther King, which was falsely reported—falsely reported!—that it was taken out of the office,” Trump narrated. “These are lying people. These are bad people…And the apology was this,” the president added, pressing a thumb and forefinger together on one of his diminutive hands.
That was actually Trump’s second venting about this obviously sore subject.
“See that's a very serious charge,” he had told Hannity earlier during their sit-down. “Because they're not saying the bust was taken out. What they're saying is that I'm a racist. That's what they're saying.”
Weirdly, during a discussion of the outlawed practice of waterboarding alleged terrorists—a form of torture which Trump wants to restore—Hannity kept mentioning David Muir as the hypothetical victim of a terrorist attack, maybe out of pique that the ABC anchor, and not Hannity, had gotten the first television interview with the new commander in chief.
“Waterboarding black sites came up in your interview last night,” Hannity said. “And I was thinking, if I had an opportunity to speak with David Muir, I’d say, OK, two guys go into your house, they kidnap your child, one guy gets away with your child, you tackle the other guy, that guy knows where your child is, you don’t waterboard that guy?”
Trump was initially reluctant to bite on Hannity’s David Muir scenario.
“So waterboarding used to be used because they said it really wasn't torture. It was the one step slightly below torture,” the president replied in a non-sequitur.
So Hannity gave it another try.
“I would ask David Muir, if they kidnapped your kid and you have one of the kidnappers, what would you do to get the location of your child?” he told the president, who this time decided to play along.
“Or would you want him to talk in 48 hours from now by being nice to him, OK?” Trump said.
“It's over,” Hannity agreed.
Muir, by the way, is childless.
Hannity’s interview took place on the same day that the president’s chief strategist, former Breitbart News chairman Stephen K. Bannon, phoned a New York Times reporter to caution that “the media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for awhile…
“The media here is the opposition party,” Bannon added. “They don’t understand this country.”
Hannity and the president echoed that theme.
“They’re very hostile,” Trump said. “These are very hostile people. These are very angry people.”
“But they also colluded against you in a campaign,” Hannity asserted.
“Well they're very dishonest people,” the president agreed. “The media is very dishonest. I've been saying it. I say it openly.”
At which Hannity exulted: “I said journalism's dead, so we agree.”