US President Donald Trump has at least one really, really big fan

US President Donald Trump to Fox News host Sean Hannity: "You have been so great and I'm very proud of you. And you ...
KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS

US President Donald Trump to Fox News host Sean Hannity: "You have been so great and I'm very proud of you. And you know, I'm a ratings person."

OPINION: This week, US President Donald Trump held an event to promote his tax plan to a crowd of truckers at an Air National Guard hangar in Middletown, Pennsylvania.

Fox News host Sean Hannity showed up for this Trump event and interviewed some people. The results were shocking.

"Before you arrived here, I had an opportunity to interview a lot of people in this great crowd," said Hannity to Trump as part of a Thursday (Friday NZ time) edition of his show, Hannity, devoted almost entirely to a sit-down with the president.

Hannity is a friend of Trump's from pre-presidential days.
ROB KIM/GETTY IMAGES

Hannity is a friend of Trump's from pre-presidential days.

"And I asked them basically three different questions - what they thought of you. Overwhelmingly, there's a lot of support for you here."

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Think of that - there's a lot of support for Trump at a Trump-orchestrated event.

Hannity draws a hefty paycheck from one of the richest properties in all of media. Thanks to boosterish programming of this sort, Fox News pulls down north of US$1.5 billion (NZ$2.1b) in profits. Though, really, the network deserves a little extra bonus from the Trump campaign for Hannity's services.

In his Wednesday night special with Trump, Hannity:

- Called Trump's tax plan "Reaganesque", though the president said his cuts would be bigger than those of the 40th president.

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- Assisted Trump in fending off criticism that his tax plan is a sop for the wealthy: "Every time I tune into anybody else in the media except Fox, [they say] 'Tax cuts for the wealthy.' The rate for some people goes down, but if you live in a state like New York or Illinois, New Jersey or California, you won't be able to deduct your state or local income tax.

"In other words, if you elect politicians that want to raise taxes, you're going to pay the penalty, so that's not really true that this is a tax cut for the wealthy as they're portraying it."

- Whipped up the crowd for Trump. "Is he going to win Pennsylvania in 2020, too?" asked Hannity, as the crowd said, "Yay!"

- Failed to press Trump when he at one point claimed to be one vote short in the Senate on ObamaCare repeal and replace, and in nearly the same breath expressed confidence that he already had enough votes.

- Provided this lovely talking point about the Russia investigation: "I interviewed Julian Assange five times; I've talked to him other times. He has said it's not Russia - there was no collusion, the [Democratic National Committee] emails did not come from them.

"Congressman Dana Rohrabacher met with him and he says he has proof-positive evidence that would show the Trump campaign never colluded with Russia. Is it in the best interests of the country that if he has that information, he should give it? ... Does the country deserve to know the truth if he has that?"

- Failed to follow up when Trump, reflecting on the 2016 election, said, "I would rather have a popular vote. For me, the popular vote is easier."

- Soaked up this Trump rant: "I'm so proud of you, you know I did this show ... I did it a lot. ... You have been so great and I'm very proud of you. And you know, I'm a ratings person.

"Have you seen his ratings? What you are doing to your competition is incredible. No 1, and I'm very proud of you, and it's an honour to be on your show." Any real journalist would be embarrassed by that moment. Hannity? Nah.

In a somewhat nostalgic moment, Hannity talked about those glorious days of the presidential election: "I remember one time we had an early conversation ... You said, 'Well, I have all these things and maybe you want to play golf on my course one day' ... We were friends long before you ever ran for office.

"And then when you ran, I said I only want one thing: help our country, let's help the forgotten men and women, let's keep this country safe. And I think that's our prayer for you and the country."

Watch for Hannity to continue tipping into farce as the weeks speed past. As Trump's outrages and shortcomings pile up, Hannity will continue to press the extremes of Trump sycophancy. That's because his trajectory on this candidate leaves him no choice.

Not that he'll endure any ratings pain from doing so. In a rare case of accuracy, Trump correctly cited Hannity's surge in the ratings; last week, for instance, he ruled all of cable news.

"I think a lot of the news media is fake, except Hannity," said a fellow interviewed by Hannity at the Trump event.

 - The Washington Post

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