Fox News primetime star Sean Hannity fed questions to President Trump in advance of their interview last fall, according to the author of a bombshell book peering inside the first year of Trump’s White House.
In that new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Michael Wolff explains how he discovered that many in the administration view the president as mentally “incapable,” with frequent lapses in memory becoming a cause for concern.
Trump was initially scheduled for a 60 Minutes interview in September, but abruptly canceled after ex-top adviser Steve Bannon was interviewed by the same program. “The president’s advisers felt he shouldn’t put himself in a position where he would be compared to Bannon,” Wolff reports.
“The worry among staffers—all of them concerned that Trump’s rambling and his alarming repetitions (the same sentences delivered with the same expressions minutes apart) had significantly increased, and that his ability to stay focused, never great, had notably declined—was that he was likely to suffer by such a comparison,” the book continues. “Instead, the interview with Trump was offered to Sean Hannity—with a preview of the questions.”
Through a Fox News spokesperson, Hannity disputed that account, saying, “I never provided questions ahead of time to any candidate.” Fox later followed up to clarify that the statement included President Trump as well.
Hannity also seemingly disputed Wolff’s reporting that he, Bill O’Reilly, and Roger Ailes were working on a new, ostensibly pro-Trump cable-news network—a story The Daily Beast had previously reported. Hannity said in a statement: “never said I was going to quit my longtime, successful TV and radio career to work for Trump.”
Regardless of whether or not Hannity previewed questions, the president wouldn’t have needed any such help, seeing as their October 11 sit-down included such difficult questions as “You don’t get a lot of good news in the media,” “The market is up 25 percent since you won,” and “Obviously the people of the country are with you.”
And that Trump has sat down for at least 19 such friendly interviews with Fox News, Fox Business Network, and Fox News Radio seems to at least comport with Wolff’s reporting that the president’s inner circle seek to protect him from public slip-ups.
Several days after that interview, he sat down with his longtime friend in Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, who asked Trump about “the risk of the country not being able to see your successes,” lauding his “many accomplishments.”
Weeks later, he appeared on Fox & Friends, his favorite cable-news show, to speak with Ainsley Earhardt, a noted Trump booster who gleefully lent him a hand in spreading anti-Comey propaganda and praised him for it.
And then he granted an interview to Fox & Friends Weekend host Pete Hegseth, who seemingly sourced his lay-up questions about the “failing” New York Times and “deep state” conspiracies directly from the president’s Twitter feed. Months later, Trump returned for another friendly chat with Hegseth, this time with questions about why “patriotism and citizenship” are so near and dear to the president’s heart.
Worst of all, perhaps, was the president’s October interview with Fox Business Network ratings leader and serial Trump sycophant Lou Dobbs, who famously asked: “You’re also one of the most loved and respected, I would say, how does that feel?”
Notably, however, President Trump has yet to sit down for an interview with actual Fox News journalists like Bret Baier or Chris Wallace.