Fox & Friends reluctantly covered Tuesday night’s big wins for Democrats in Virginia, New Jersey, and elsewhere on Wednesday morning. But within the first 10 minutes of their morning broadcast, the hosts were attempting to throw cold water on the narrative that they somehow represented a “rebuke” of President Donald Trump.
Quoting the morning’s New York Times front-page headline, co-host Steve Doocy said, “‘Democrats Score Two Big Victories in Trump Rebuke,’ but was it really? Because neither of the candidates for governors in both states, which were won by Hillary Clinton, neither one of them really brought Donald Trump on board.”
He accused Virginia’s losing candidate Ed Gillespie of doing a “last-minute” robocall from Trump because he knew he was “probably going to lose.”
Brian Kilmeade noted that Gillespie said a “couple of things that the president agreed with” during his campaign on issues like Confederate statues and sanctuary cities. But as Trump himself said in a tweet after the results were apparent, Gillespie, “worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for.”
With that in mind, Doocy called Tuesday night a “wake-up call for establishment Republicans,” adding, “If you don't embrace the leader of your party, why do you want to win and why do you think you can?”
While Democrats successfully painted former Washington lobbyist Gillespie as the “establishment” figure that he is, Gillespie did everything he possibly could to rebrand himself as a Trump Republican.
But as soon as it became clear that he was going to lose, Fox News’ primetime hosts began to smear him as part of the dreaded swamp. “It’s hard to see Ed Gillespie as a Trump candidate,” Tucker Carlson declared moments after Fox called the race for Democrat Ralph Northam.
Sean Hannity was even more dismissive of the Democratic victories, saying at the top of his show, “Those results in Virginia, New Jersey, New York — by the way, not states Donald Trump won,” before moving on to Trump’s speech in South Korea.
“Maybe Gillespie wouldn’t have won if President Trump campaigned with him, but trying to be half in, half out with Donald Trump was never going to work. If you dip your toe just in a little bit, you are going to turn out like Ed Gillespie did. Political road kill.”
“You’re going to have to make a choice,” Kilmeade added Wednesday morning. “President Bush 43 or Donald Trump.”
By its third hour, Fox & Friends had traveled back in time to a year earlier, when Election Night went a lot better for Republicans, showing a rousing montage of Trump’s “historic victory” in 2016. “We all remember where we were when that news broke,” co-host Ainsley Earhardt said wistfully.