UPDATED: President Donald Trump has spoken highly of Fox News before, even as he’s criticized other mainstream media outlets. His latest promotion for the network, however, is raising more eyebrows than usual.
On Saturday, Trump tweeted to his 27 million followers a tune-in for Jeanine Pirro’s Fox News show “Justice With Judge Jeanine,” writing, “Watch @JudgeJeanine on @FoxNews tonight at 9:00 P.M.” Just hours later, Pirro opened her show with a blistering segment calling for Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to resign.
“Paul Ryan needs to step down as speaker of the House,” she said in kicking off her show. “The reason? He failed to deliver the votes on his healthcare bill, the one trumpeted to repeal and replace Obamacare, the one that he had seven years to work on, the one he hid under lock and key in the basement of Congress, the one that had to be pulled to prevent the embarrassment of not having enough votes to pass.”
“Americans elected the one man they believed could do it: a complete outsider beholden to no one but them, and Speaker Ryan, you come in with all your swagger and experience, and you sell them a bill of goods, which ends up a complete and total failure, and you allow our president, in his first 100 days, to come out of the box like that?” she went on. She insisted that the buck stops with Ryan, adding, “This is not on President Trump. No one expected a businessman to completely understand the nuances, the complicated ins and outs of Washington and its legislative process. How would he know which individuals upon whom he would be able to rely?”
Social media quickly exploded with accusations that Trump was informed of the content of Pirro’s show ahead of time. When reached for comment, Fox News pointed to Pirro’s comments on her program about not speaking with the president, as well as a later interview with Reince Priebus.
It’s not unusual for Trump to tweet such plugs. Even still, they usually occur when the show involves an interview or profile of himself. Trump last tweeted a promotion for Pirro’s show in August, when he appeared in an interview with the judge.
In his campaign, Trump assured his followers that the GOP would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, if he were to win the presidency. The new proposed healthcare plan, however, dubbed by the GOP as the American Health Care Act, failed to secure enough votes to pass. Ryan said after news broke that Americans would be “living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”
Later, when pressed by Fox News’ Chris Wallace, White House Chief of Staff Priebus insisted that Trump did not know of Pirro’s opening segment beforehand. “Well, first of all, I will go on record, we do love Judge Jeanine, and so does the president. I think it was more coincidental,” he said.
Priebus added that Trump was simply doing Pirro “a favor.” He went on to say that POTUS doesn’t even want Ryan’s resignation. “He doesn’t blame Paul Ryan,” Preibus told Wallace. “In fact, he thought Paul Ryan worked really hard. He enjoys his relationship with Paul Ryan, thinks that Paul Ryan is a great speaker of the House.”
Additionally, when asked at a Monday press conference if Trump owes Ryan an apology for tweeting the tune-in, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that Trump is just “fan of the show, plain and simple.” “He and Speaker Ryan talked extensively over the weekend, I think they talked both Saturday and Sunday at length,” Spicer added. “But again, he is a fan of the show. He tweeted out support it. That’s it, plain and simple… What should he should he apologize for? Supporting a show on Fox?”
Watch Pirro’s opening segment below.