During his primetime pre-recorded Iowa town hall with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Tuesday, former President Donald Trump appeared to be deliberately baiting the establishment media. And based on the newsfeed the next morning, the bait seems to have worked.
The mainstream media, with headlines such as “Trump Deflects Question On Retribution And Law-Breaking At Town Hall” from The New York Times, have readily misinterpreted Trump’s comments to the worst possible extremity.
Fox News contributor and Columnist for The Messenger Joe Concha summarized Trump’s statement explaining that the former President would likely, like many before him, unleash a spate of Executive Orders on day one to roll back those of his predecessor and reassert his own policies. A standard political maneuver in previous decades, and hardly the mark of a dictator.
“What I took away from it before you read those headlines that he would likely use executive orders to close the border and drill, drill, drill back here in America again.
And, of course, the easiest bet you could make another network having a complete and total meltdown over that comment when they know exactly what he meant. All while ignoring this fact. I can guarantee you won’t see this in any stories and you will not hear this on any other networks: Joe Biden signed more executive orders and actions in his first 100 days, including multiple Executive Orders and actions on day one than Trump or Obama or George W. Bush. So, so much for the whole Dictator thing.”
Somewhat obtusely, The Associated Press wrote Tuesday, “Trump declines to rule out abusing power to seek retribution if he returns to the White House,” despite giving an accurate account of the exchange, albeit without the Executive Order context. The AP’s take was not dissimilar to the radical left publication The Daily Beast, which wrote, “Donald Trump, in a Fox News town hall Wednesday, did not rule out breaking the law if re-elected president.”
The AP quoted Hannity and Trump accurately, though.
“Under no circumstances, you are promising America tonight, you would never abuse power as retribution against anybody?” Hannity asked Trump.
“Except for day one,” Trump replied. “I want to close the border and I want to drill, drill, drill.”
He added, “I love this guy,” speaking of Hannity. “He says, ‘You’re not going to be a dictator, are you?’ I said: ‘No, no, no, other than day one. We’re closing the border and we’re drilling, drilling, drilling. After that, I’m not a dictator.’”
Indeed earlier in the interview, Trump threw a similar question back at Hannity as referring to the Biden Administration’s recent actions against him. The host asked Trump if he had “in any way” made “plans whatsoever, if reelected president, to abuse power, to break the law to use the government to go after people.” To which Trump quipped asking “You mean like they’re using right now?”
Predictably, the Biden campaign latched on to the media feeding frenzy with a statement from 2024 campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez saying, “Donald Trump has been telling us exactly what he will do if he’s reelected and tonight he said he will be a dictator on day one. Americans should believe him.”
NEW >> statement on Trump's townhall tonight from Biden-Harris Campaign Manager @JulieR2022
“Donald Trump has been telling us exactly what he will do if he’s reelected and tonight he said he will be a dictator on day one. Americans should believe him.” pic.twitter.com/nBMB0suJlW
— Ammar Moussa (@ammarmufasa) December 6, 2023