It’s rare that the most popular show on cable is in danger of being canceled. Then again, in the time of the coronavirus, the most popular show on cable seems to be President Donald Trump’s daily briefings and that doesn’t necessarily sit well with the media.
Many cable channels have looked into cutting away from the president’s briefings, with CNN going as far as to call them “propaganda” and several MSNBC commentators loudly intimating their channel shouldn’t cover them. What to do, then?
Well, one of the possibilities, according to a New York Times article published Wednesday, was for Trump to host a two-hour radio show every day. According to The Times, however, the president didn’t want to step on the toes of Rush Limbaugh.
He probably should have asked El Rushbo, since the radio legend said he’d be honored.
On his radio show Wednesday, Limbaugh sounded both amused and intrigued by the idea.
“But you know what it indicates is, what this story does indicate? That probably Donald Trump is one of the few who could fill my shoes. With proper training and proper instruction, I could see that,” Limbaugh said with a laugh, according to a transcript.
“I think there’d be nobody better to fill my shoes than Donald Trump. I’ve often said nobody could, but if anybody could, it would be him.”
The idea was this: Two hours every day with the president answering listeners’ questions about the coronavirus and trying to allay their fears about COVID-19, the disease it causes.
There wouldn’t be pre-planned questions or anything like that — and it should go without saying, no mainstream media.
“Now we find out what the president is missing,” Limbaugh said. “He owns television, but he doesn’t feel he has a two-way, direct line to you. It’s an outgrowth of being frustrated at having everything he says mediated by the media, which is why he does as many live events as he can.”
The Times article by Elaina Plott described Limbaugh as you’d probably imagine The Times would describe him:
“Like the president, Mr. Limbaugh has also dispensed disinformation and falsehoods at a rapid clip. In the last few weeks alone he has repeatedly referred to the coronavirus as the ‘common cold.’ His history of anti-gay remarks was revived as recently as February, when he said Americans would not elect Pete Buttigieg after seeing him ‘kissing his husband onstage, next to Mr. Man, Donald Trump.’ (Mr. Limbaugh later told listeners that Mr. Trump had called him and told him not to apologize for the comments.)”
However, Plott also noted that Limbaugh’s program is the most popular talk-radio show in the country, a position it’s held for decades, and that it draws 15.5 million listeners per week.
That might make Limbaugh’s offer a bit difficult to refuse.
“I’m telling you, we could work this out, don’t you think?” Limbaugh said on the radio Wednesday. “If the president wants to do this — if he wants to come on and have a show — we’ll let him do it.
“I won’t even be… If he wants to host it himself, he can do it. If he wants to do it for two hours — that’s what he said. If he wants to talk to you for two hours, he’s welcome to come here and do it anytime.
“At the same time, we could combine it with an audition. We could look at it as an audition as well … Well, he lives right here,” he continued, referring to the fact both Limbaugh and Trump have homes in Palm Beach, Florida.
If Trump wasn’t looking to take over a daily show, Limbaugh said, “we could do a town hall with the president on this program anytime he wants. I’m sure we could get clearance for it. We could do it noon to three for as long as he wants. He could have direct connect with you in the audience.”
“You know, not a bunch of bureaucrat experts up on the stage, and certainly no journalists choosing the questions or any of that,” Limbaugh continued. “We’ll do it in a different way than anybody’s ever done town halls or any of that stuff.
“But I’m here making it known — and I will call later, too — but I’m doing it here, making it known that this program is available to the president if he wants to audition, if he wants to use it for a town hall, if he wants to have direct connect with you, that we got it handled. We know how to do that. We do it each and every day.”
And why would Trump need that? Well, consider the fact that he’s being cut off by the media in a major way — including CNN, which called a video Trump showed in the White House briefing room “propaganda” for accurately showing how the White House press corps had talked about policies the president was now pursuing before he pursued them.
CNN’s John King calls Trump’s video that was just shown in the press briefing room, highlighting how the media downplayed the coronavirus and the steps he took early on in the pandemic, “propaganda”: “It was cherry-picked.” pic.twitter.com/vQG6bEjBFg
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) April 13, 2020
Beyond that, the briefings have essentially become a three-ring circus, with socially distanced reporters trying to outdo each other to get in the gotcha-iest question of the day, almost as if they were politicians trying to score donor clips on the floor of Congress.
It would be little wonder, then, if Trump might prefer a block of time on radio where he could speak to the base without that kind of interjection. If he wants it, Rush Limbaugh is there.
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