Washington • “Fox and Friends” host Brian Kilmeade twiddled his thumbs, seeming to know the word was coming.
President Donald Trump had given an interview with the Wall Street Journal in which he was asked about the fallout between him and conservative pundit Ann Coulter over ending the shutdown without border wall funding.
Co-host Steve Doocy summarized the attacks from Coulter and the four-letter word she used: "wimp."
Kilmeade reacted to the word with a not-subtle eye roll and a hand gesture but waited for Doocy to read the counterattack Trump offered the Journal, which included calling Coulter "very hostile" and speculating that maybe he didn't "return her phone call or something."
But when Kilmeade, who hosts a show well-known for being closely watched by the president, finally offered his take, it contained more than a touch of irony.
"I just think the president cares way too much about people in the media," he said. "He is president. He is not a candidate . . . he has got to make some tough decisions and he is not an absolute monarch."
As The Washington Post has reported, Trump and the hosts of "Fox and Friends" appear to have a deep mutual affinity.
Fox News Channel’s morning show is typically a safe space for Trump and his surrogates, a home for flattering live interviews and relentless cheerleading on everything from building his proposed border wall to highlighting the supposed threat of a Central American migrant caravan.
Trump, a regular F&F viewer, frequently returns the favor by live-tweeting things he's seen and heard on the show, turning a program derided by liberal critics into one of the most influential news sources on the air.
Cracks have shown at times, however, in the support from "Fox and Friends" hosts. They blasted Trump for repeatedly suggesting that reporters are the enemy of the people and criticized him for mocking Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
In December, Kilmeade scrutinized Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, saying it would be a "big win" for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But if there was any acrimony on Trump's side, it wasn't evident soon after Kilmeade's comments Monday.
In his trademark style, Trump tweeted praise of himself, quoting remarks by political commentator Deroy Murdock.
"In the Media's effort to destroy the President, they are actually destroying themselves," Murdock said. "Given all of the tremendous head winds this President has faced, it's amazing he has accomplished so much."
Trump was flattered by the remark. “I agree!” he wrote on Twitter, noting that it came from a trusted source: “Fox and Friends.”