It was a big Election Day morning for Fox & Friends, that cheerful dose of strychnine in right-wing America’s morning coffee. Fox News’ popular morning show featured two big guests eager to make the final case for President Donald Trump to an audience of people who were already going to vote for him.
The first guest, as you might have predicted, was President Donald Trump himself—the fabled “fourth Friend,” as no one calls him. Trump’s appearance marked the 24th time he has called into the show as president, according to Media Matters. Hitting the airwaves around 7:45 a.m.—45 minutes after he was scheduled to appear—Trump took the opportunity to make a case that would turn out his Fox-literate base, and no one else.
What did Trump say during the 35 minutes he was on the air? Roughly in order, the president:
• Bragged about the size of the crowds that had attended his recent rallies.
• Complained that Savannah Guthrie had been mean to him during a recent interview.
• Praised himself for taking quick, decisive action to curtail “the plague from China.”
• Noted that his son, Barron, had recovered from COVID-19 in about “two seconds,” which is why America’s children should all go back to school.
• Characterized the polls showing him running behind in most swing states as “suppression polls.”
• Bragged again about the attendance at his rallies.
• Boasted about the existence of massive highway caravans of Trump supporters, “thousands of cars that stretch for 98 miles.”
• Complained that “shifty [Adam] Schiff, crazy Nancy [Pelosi], and cryin’ Chuck [Schumer]” had been mean to him.
• Complained that Fox News gives too much airtime to Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama.
• Praised himself for creating the Space Force and promised that the wall on America’s Southern border with Mexico would be completed “within a very short period of time.”
• Observed that Joe Biden is “not prime time” and that, if elected president, Biden would soon see his authority challenged by “AOC plus three.”
• Criticized the mayors of “lawless” Democratic cities that allowed antifa to run rampant, breaking windows and toppling historical statues with impunity.
• Referred darkly to “the amount of horror that’s gone on [in Philadelphia] during elections” and predicted that “Philadelphia will be a disaster.”
• Bragged again about the crowds at his rallies.
Clearly, this is a very airtight case for reelection. But just to seal the deal, about 15 minutes after Trump finished, Fox & Friends welcomed another very special guest: radio host Rush Limbaugh, who had apparently texted his old buddy Steve Doocy on Monday night asking if he could come on the air on Election Day. As has become his custom over the past few years, Limbaugh used his time to serve as Trump’s hype man. He brushed off the fact that the polls in swing states favor Biden by announcing that he “make[s] it a point never to follow” the conventional wisdom, because the conventional wisdom is “always wrong.” He speculated that perhaps the surge in early voting had been led by pro-Trump voters who are “fed up with the way he’s been lied about; they’re fed up with this Russian conspiracy hoax and this impeachment hoax; they’re fed up with the attempts to destroy this country, the antifa and Black Lives Matter, and they’re tired of watching the cities burn.” Echoing Tucker Carlson on Monday—or perhaps Carlson had been echoing Limbaugh—he characterized the Biden-Harris ticket as a stalking horse for shadowy “big tech” interests. He bragged about the size of the crowds at Donald Trump’s rallies.
Limbaugh also claimed that “the people in my audience are a sophisticated bunch of people,” as if his listeners busy themselves with modernist fiction and Chopin when not listening to him howl about the deep state for three hours a day. But there’s nothing sophisticated about the last-ditch case for Donald Trump, at least not as professed by Trump and his top surrogates. On Election Day, as on every day for the past four years, Trump and his team are content to throw rotten meat to a ravenous base while sneering at everyone else who’s unwilling to swallow their slop. It has been a cynical, enervating strategy. We will see if it pays off. Something tells me that even Fox & Friends’ sycophantic hosts might be relieved if it doesn’t.
Slate is covering the election issues that matter to you. Support our work with a Slate Plus membership. You’ll also get a suite of great benefits.