When it comes to cable news, President Trump's favorite channel is no secret— that distinction has long gone to Fox News. While the president has tweeted derogatory statements about CNN and MSNBC, he's appeared many times on Fox News, and sometimes even praises the media giant specifically. And that made the unsparing critique of Trump by Fox News host Neil Cavuto all the more surprising for some. Over on Twitter, Cavuto's takedown of Trump was heralded by many as a bold and welcome move for the cable news corporation.
"Last time I checked, you are the president of the United States," Cavuto intoned during a monologue on his show on Monday. "Why don't you act like it?"
Cavuto highlighted Trump's Twitter reactions to two recent news stories that caused the Fox News host to question why the president wasn't acting up to his job title. The first concerned the recent release by China of three UCLA basketball players who had been arrested for shoplifting. In several tweets, Trump complained that LaVar Ball, the father of one of the players, hadn't shown the president enough gratitude for his intervention.
The second Trump tweet Cavuto homed in on was the president's mocking of Republican Sen. Jeff Flake. Cavuto expressed his own disappointment with how the president's attack on one from his own party could threaten passage of tax reform.
Many Twitter users reacted to Cavuto's exasperated exhortation that Trump start acting presidential as a sign that even the president's most loyal supporters have grown weary with his divisive tweets.
Fox News has come under criticism for its coverage of Trump, which many argue is journalistically questionable. On the day of Paul Manafort's indictment, Fox News' primetime lineup did their best to downplay and deflect from the day's top story, as Tom Kludt outlines at CNN.
Primetime host Sean Hannity is one of the most staunch Trump defenders. The president regularly name-checks Fox & Friends fondly in his Twitter feed, and for good reason — the morning show has been notable for its incessant support of Trump. Justin Peters even called Fox & Friends the "Authoritarian Today Show" in the title of an op-ed for Slate.
So when someone at Fox News criticizes the president, many sit up and take notice. And Cavuto's monologue was not just raising awareness of differing opinions or offering an outline of the "other side." Rather, Cavuto leveled a biting critique of the president's tweets.
Forget about either comment not being presidential, at what point does the president see such remarks don't even border on being human? ... Is it me, or does the president look like he's punching down when these are the incidents that get him all riled up?
Cavuto was again referring to Trump's anger at LaVar Ball not crediting him for the release of Ball's son and Sen. Flake's comment that the Republican party is "doomed" if it sticks by Trump and Republican candidate Roy Moore.
"Like he's using a bazooka to respond to a pea shooter," Cavuto said. "Is it really necessary?"
Many of the tweets responding to Cavuto raised the possibility that Fox News is changing its coverage because supporting Trump might be a losing economic prospect.
Of course, there were Twitter defenders of Trump who pointed their criticism at Cavuto.
Neil Cavuto's unapologetic critique of Trump's tweeting habit got a lot of attention on Twitter, most of it commending the Fox News host for going where few of his network's big-wigs dare tread. Calling out the president on the cable news station favored overwhelmingly by Trump voters is a big deal indeed.