President Donald Trump reportedly loves making fun of Sean Hannity and his softball interviews of the president according to a new exposé from The Daily Beast.
Three anonymous sources close to Trump and Hannity told Asawin Suebsaeng and Lachlan Cartwright that Hannity's "slobbering" quashes Trump's innate desire to feed off chaos and controversy.
One source recalled Trump once saying of Hannity that "it’s like he’s not even trying" while mocking Hannity's questions, which typically revolve around how “great I am.”
Another person said Trump refers to Hannity's questions as “dumb" and even began to pity the Fox News host, with whom Trump is purportedly very close. This culminated leading up to the midterms as Hannity attempted to analyze the shellacking Republicans received last Tuesday in his most recent interview with the president.
"Election Day , I actually called you," Hannity said to Trump. "I said, ‘You’re gonna get bad news about… 5:15 that afternoon. You lost Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.’ And you won ’em all. Polls don’t mean anything, do they?”
“I lost them based on the fake news,” Trump replied. Hannity parroted the same as if it were gospel: "Fake news."
One Republican operative close to Trump said of the president's constant bickering with reporters: “He likes it as a sport."
Trump's recent spat with CNN's Jim Acosta, whose press credentials Trump spontaneously revoked and for which the administration is being sued, is a perfect example of how Trump feeds off confrontation.
“[Trump] does enjoy the back-and-forth with the press—look at this whole Jim Acosta thing,” said conservative commentator and Trump loyalist Jeff Lord. “The president can call on anybody he wants. He could have ignored Jim Acosta. He didn’t do it. And he didn’t do it because… they would have some chance to do some verbal jousting there.”
“Donald Trump delights in the combat with these folks,” Lord said, noting that when Trump was a presidential candidate, he promised to "fight back" against the "dishonest media."
Despite the mockery, The Daily Beast found, Trump still "loves Sean," often citing him to White House staffers as someone who understands conservative America - which is Trump's political base.
The special relationship between Trump and Hannity was highlighted in May when New York Magazine revealed that the two men speak on the phone, in private, nearly every night.
Olivia Nuzzi writes:
"The operator then dials the president, who leaves the Oval Office around 7 p.m. and who, by this point in the evening, is almost always by himself on the third floor of the executive residence (the First Lady reportedly sleeps in a separate bedroom). He tells the operator to put Hannity through."
The Trump-Hannity bromance was viewed as a sort of talk therapy for the president, even if it never translates into how Trump runs the executive branch.
"The talks may be more important for Trump than for Hannity in a therapeutic sense, even if it’s nearly impossible to accept what we’re seeing from the president reflects any kind of therapy. “He doesn’t live with his wife,” one person who knows both men said of Trump, explaining that he lacks someone “to decompress” with at the end of the day. When they spoke a few hours before Trump welcomed home the newly freed Americans who’d been held hostage in North Korea, he and Hannity told each other how proud they were, how happy the news made them. “You can’t function without that,” this person said, adding that Hannity “actually likes him” even though 'he knows how nuts he is. He’s decided that you’re all in or you’re not.'"
"With Hannity," Suebsaeng and Cartwright noted, "Trump hasn’t always restrained himself until his friend was out of the room. Ahead of one of the president’s closing rallies before the midterm elections this month, the 2020 Trump campaign announced Hannity would be appearing onstage with Trump as a 'special guest.'"
That appearance, prior to which Hannity said he "will not be on stage campaigning with the president,” caused a firestorm at Fox News when Hannity and Jeanine Pirro took the stage with Trump at a rally and directly engaged the audience - by praising Trump.
Fox News swiftly tried to distance itself from the obvious conflict of interest caused by one of its reporters giving Trump a pre-election boost.
“Fox News does not condone any talent participating in campaign events,” Fox said in a statement. “We have an extraordinary team of journalists helming our coverage tonight, and we are extremely proud of their work. This was an unfortunate distraction and has been addressed.”
One senior administration official interviewed for The Daily Beast said Trump “did not care” about the optics and insisted Hannity take the stage anyway.
With Trump, it's about what he wants, the rest is always someone else's problem.