Thursday on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, Sen (R-SC) weighed in on President Donald Trump’s effect on the media, in particular, the backlash he received from CNN following the remarks he made about the press at his rally in Phoenix on Tuesday.
Graham said he was driving CNN “crazy” and added the rhetoric Trump was using was part of a political strategy to fire up his base.
“[B]reaking news, he won, Don, being exactly the way he was in Phoenix,” Graham said. “He won giving these kinds of speeches. People at CNN, they’re literally — he’s driving them crazy. Trump is making a political decision here to be presidential, listen to the generals, and to go back to his base and fire them up and put pressure on the Senate and the House to do things he wants. He’s not the first president to use the bully pulpit to try to push the country in a particular direction or to keep his base on board.”
“He’s making a conscious decision to let his base know that when I said I want to build the wall, I meant to build the wall,” he continued. “He’s running against Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham and others. The Congress is very unpopular, particularly with the Republican base, so there’s nothing unhinged about it. It’s a political strategy that I’m not so sure is smart, but it’s a very thought-out strategy. There’s nothing crazy about it. It’s a political strategy.”
Later in the interview, Graham advised Trump to stop watching cable TV and spoke about a late-night phone call Graham had once received from Trump about something he had seen on MSNBC.
Partial transcript as follows (courtesy of HughHewitt.com):
GRAHAM: So here’s what I would tell the President. Stop watching cable TV. Nobody else watches it. You know, he called me up one night at about 11:00, and I said what are you doing, and he said you’ve got to turn on the TV. This guy just said this. And I said Mr. President, you’re watching MSNBC at 11:00. If you stop watching it, their audience goes down by half.
HEWITT: (laughing) Now wait a minute. You’re hitting my network here, Lindsey Graham.
GRAHAM: That’s all I’m saying.
HEWITT: You should tell him to watch it at 8:00 AM on Saturday. He’ll like it more. But you’re hitting my network there.
GRAHAM: …like 8:30 on Saturday morning, as a matter of fact, he does, it shuts down the internet, because so many people want to watch.
GRAHAM: (laughing) Quit watching this junk. Who cares what, you know, Don Lemon’s a fine fellow, but he’s paid to be, their audience wants to hear Don Lemon say something bad about Trump. People watch Fox who will say something good about Trump. If you watch MSNBC, let me tell you why I hate Trump more than you do. It’s all a game. It’s all about ratings. It’s all about making money. It’s all about, you know, people feeling, you know, like they have something in common with somebody, this validation of feelings. Stop watching cable TV, and you know, come up with an agenda and stick to it.