The Fox Business Network anchor on Wednesday gave a master class in how to butter up the president, who reciprocated by divulging intimate details of what it was like to order last week’s strike against a Syrian airfield. (“I will tell you, only because you’ve treated me so good for so long,” Trump said, making the transactional nature of the conversation explicit.) The press has already praised the beauty of the missiles raining down on Syria and informed us of Trump’s overwhelming compassion for Syria’s children, so Bartiromo had to dig a little deeper to unearth new information that would allow Trump to bask in this glorious moment a little longer. She homed in on his dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, which was when the strike was ordered.
Here is a breakdown of how Bartiromo got the goods.
1. Bartiromo: When you’re with the president of China, you’re launching these military strikes. Was that planned? How did that come about? Because right there you’re saying: A reminder, who the super power in the world is.
A perfect opening move. Trump is a notoriously insecure man, and it’s hard to imagine a more ego-stroking remark, one that sets Trump up as the big boy to Xi’s little wimp. Also, Bartiromo’s facial expression is at a 7 on the sycophancy scale.
2. Bartiromo: When did you tell him? Before dessert or? ...
It’s not the substance of the question so much as the schoolgirl giddiness with which she asks it. Facial expression at a 9 on the sycophancy scale.
3. Trump: We had finished dinner, we’re now having dessert, and we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen [indicates size with hands: it’s a big cake], and President Xi was enjoying it, and I was given the message from the generals that the ships are locked and loaded—what do you do? And we made a determination to do [it]. So the missiles were on the way. And I said, “Mr. President, let me explain something to you.” This is during dessert. “We’ve just fired 59 missiles,” all of which hit by the way, unbelievable, from hundreds of miles away, all of which hit, amazing...
Trump: So incredible. It’s brilliant, it’s genius, our technology, our equipment, is better than anybody’s by a factor of five. What we have in terms of technology nobody can even come close to competing.
Trump’s digression about the chocolate cake is what has received the most attention this morning. But Bartiromo’s subtle goading allowed Trump to wax poetic about the military as if it were one of his hotels—the best, the biggest, etc.—which in turn allowed Trump to condemn Barack Obama for cutting defense spending and George W. Bush for invading Iraq. Also, yes, missiles are generally “unmanned.”
4. Trump: We’ve just launched 59 missiles, heading to Iraq.
Bartiromo: Well, you, ah, headed to Syria.
Trump: Yes, heading toward Syria.
This is the best part. Trump can remember the size of the chocolate cake he was eating and how good it felt to squeeze off a few missiles at the hazy area off the coast of his mind known as the Middle East, but he can’t remember the actual country he bombed. Bartiromo swooped in to help, but her face registered a 2 on the sycophancy scale.
5. Bartiromo: How did he react?
Again, it’s not the question itself, but the unctuous eagerness with which she asks it. A 10 on the scale.
6. Trump: He said to me, “Anybody that uses gasses”—you could almost say, “or anything else”—but “anybody who was so brutal and uses gasses, to do that to young children and babies, it’s OK.”
Bartiromo: He agreed.
Trump: He was OK with it.
Never mind the almost childlike use of the word “gasses” to describe chemical weapons. Never mind that strange aside “you could almost say, ‘or anything else,’” which seems to imply Trump believes retaliation is warranted whenever children are killed. We’re talking about Xi Jinping, whose government has tortured and imprisoned dissidents and repressed civil society groups. All hopes that China would move in a more liberal direction have been dashed under his rule. And Xi is the arbiter of whether a humanitarian strike is justified? But Bartiromo doesn’t question, she merely puts Trump’s word salad into a succinct phrase: “He agreed.”