Right after President Trump's joint press conference with Russian president Vladimir Putin, Trump joined Sean Hannity for an interview on the Fox News network. The video of Hannity and Trump talking about Putin, among other summit issues, highlighted the Fox News host's status as one of the president's staunchest "media defenders," according to The Hill.
Toward the beginning of the interview, Hannity praises Trump and agrees that he was right to focus on the Democratic National Committee's reaction to a 2016 cyberattack and the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server, which ended with no charges by the FBI.
"You were very strong at the end of that press conference. You said 'Where are the servers? What about what Peter Strzok said? Where are the 30,000 emails?' And there was this mystery answer that I think surprised a lot of people by the president of Russia as it relates to the investigation," Hannity said.
Later on during the interview, Hannity offers a statistic to help with Trump's point on the country's unemployment numbers, wherein he states that the current state of labor in the nation is the best it's ever been.
"We're doing great things. We have the greatest economy in the history of our country. We have the best unemployment numbers in the history of our country. Best African-American unemployment numbers in history. Hispanic numbers in history. Women's numbers in history," said Trump, before Hannity jumped in.
"Fourteen states have records," Hannity said.
"Fourteen states? I didn't know that."
"Record low unemployment," said Hannity.
"Surprised it's only 14, actually. That's a disappointing number," Trump said, as Hannity offered encouragement.
"Well, keep working hard, I think it'll get there, but the more amazing thing too is we have more jobs available than we actually have people on unemployment and the labor participation rate in the country has never been higher," Hannity said.
"First time," responded Trump, referring to the rate.
The interview also touched on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and FBI agent Peter Strzok's fiery testimony before a joint hearing of two House committees responsible for FBI and Justice Department oversight. Legislators had grilled him about texts that he had sent to former FBI lawyer Lisa Page about President Trump that they argued showed bias within the Russia investigation.
"They drove a phony wedge, just a phony witchhunt rigged deal with guys like Peter Strzok and Comey and McCabe," Trump said.
"...And McCabe, Strzok, Page," Hannity offered.
"The whole group and you can imagine who else — it's a real shame," said Trump, before Hannity continued.
"And there was Russia interference. Hillary paid through a law firm a [sic] investigative group, Fusion GPS. They hired a foreign national that put together a Russian dossier that was used to lie about you, which, by the way, Putin confirmed today he didn't have such information on you apparently," Hannity said, as Trump muttered, "That's right. That's right."
Fox News' coverage of the summit is unique for a couple of reasons. The media outlet was the only network to conduct a one-on-one interview with Trump after his meeting with Putin, and it's fairly easy to see why that may be: it's no secret that Trump favors the network for their favorable coverage. But as lawmakers and some media outlets excoriated Trump for his refusal to denounce Russia as well as his statements against the United States' intelligence community, Hannity's interview allowed Trump's talking points to go unchallenged. What's more, Hannity actively offered up bits to help bolster the president's arguments, a move that any Journalism 101 class will say is a no-no. It's likely that as long as the relationship between Trump and Hannity stays the way it is, Hannity will continue to get exclusives while the president will continue to get his say without being questioned.