Donald Trump kicked off his Election Day messaging Tuesday with a cryptic tweet accusing the Democrats of spreading a rumor about his final campaign appearance. The only problem? Nobody seemed to have reported the rumor in the first place — other than Fox News.
“There is a rumor, put out by the Democrats, that Josh Hawley of Missouri left the Arena last night early,” tweeted Trump, referring to the Republican senatorial candidate whom he stumped for in his final campaign appearance, in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, on Monday night.
“It is Fake News. He met me at the plane when I arrived, spoke at the great Rally, & stayed to the very end. In fact, I said goodbye to him and left before he did. Deception!”
But before Trump’s tweet, Hawley’s supposed early departure from the rally hadn’t been widely reported, and Trump didn’t specify where he had seen the rumor circulating.
As it turns out, it seems likely that Trump was referring to a claim made Tuesday morning on “Fox and Friends” — reportedly appointment viewing for the president and the apparent source of many of his early-morning tweets.
“Why Josh Hawley didn't stay last night for the Missouri rally is beyond me,” host Brian Kilmeade said during the show. “What could he have been doing that was so important?”
Trump's criticism of Fox News — even indirectly — was a contrast to the scenes just hours earlier at the Missouri rally, where the president was endorsed on stage by the network’s hosts Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro. Bizarrely, Hannity opened his comments with an attack on the media, singling out the press pack in attendance, which included his own Fox News colleagues, as “fake news.”
The Republicans see Hawley, Missouri’s attorney general, as a strong contender to unseat incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill, after Trump won the state by 18 points two years ago.
Cover image: Fox News Channel and radio talk show host Sean Hannity (L) interviews U.S. President Donald Trump before a campaign rally at the Las Vegas Convention Center on September 20, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)